Kurt Arrigo, Carlo Borlenghi

The Art of Starting at a Sailboat Regatta

Kurt Arrigo, Carlo Borlenghi
Despite the fact that regattas often last several days, every start is of immense importance and often even decides the winner. The procedure prior to the beginning of the regatta is divided into several phases marked by audio and visual signals, and lasts between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the type of race.

Despite the signals clearly communicated to the teams by the organiser, many captains use the extremely useful function of the Rolex Yacht Master II wristwatch that enables them to programme the countdown time and the synchronisation of it with the official timekeeper directly before the countdown.

Prior to the Race Start

While the boats circle the start line, they orient themselves with the help of the starter’s flag and audio signals ring the starting sequence.

Rolex Yacht Master II - Programming the Countdown

To be able to synchronise with the rules of an individual regatta, the Yacht Master II watch enables countdowns of up to 10 minutes. The skipper usually sets this prior to the regatta using the rotatable bezel since the movement “remembers” the settings and abides by them even when the countdown function is reset.


How to set your Rolex Yacht-Master II

The procedure prior to the beginning of the regatta is divided into several phases marked by audio and visual signals, and lasts between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the type of race.
Rolex Sydney Hobarth Yacht Race

Starting Sequence of a Regatta

Prior to the Race Start
While the boats circle the start line, they orient themselves with the help of the starter’s flag and audio signals ring the starting sequence.
10 Minutes to Start
The beginning of the countdown, which is of exceptional strategic significance for the entire regatta, is announced by the starter’s gun and raised flag.
5 Minutes to Start
Five minutes prior to the start of the regatta the starter’s gun fires for the second time and the second starter’s flag is hoisted.
1 Minute to Start
The flag denoting the 5-minute interval is lowered, the starter’s gun fires for the third time. A minute before the start the teams move towards the start line.
Start of the Race
The starter’s gun fires for the final time and the flag signalling 10 minutes to start is lowered. The boats are practically at the start line.

Using the Rolex Yacht Master II

Programming the Countdown
To be able to synchronise with the rules of an individual regatta, the Yacht Master II watch enables countdowns of up to 10 minutes. The skipper usually sets this prior to the regatta using the rotatable bezel since the movement “remembers” the settings and abides by them even when the countdown function is reset.
Beginning of Countdown
With the push-piece at the indicator for 2 o’clock the skipper starts the mechanism that performs two functions: the hand of the chronograph measures seconds, while the smaller red central hand with an arrow indicates the time remaining for the team until the start of the regatta.
Countdown Synchronisation
Five minutes prior to the start of the regatta the skipper can synchronise his or her countdown timer with the official timekeeper by pushing the push-piece next to the indicator for 4 o’clock, which resets the seconds hand that starts running again when he or she releases the push-piece. This function in the chronograph is called Fly-Back, and is also of immense importance with the use of Yacht Master II.
The Last Synchronisations
A minute before the start of the regatta, the skipper rechecks the congruity of his or her countdown with the official timekeeping service, which is of the utmost importance for the start: if the yacht crosses the start line even a second too soon, its start is not valid and it must cross the start line again.
Crossing the Start Line
With the help of the countdown function on the Rolex Yacht Master II wristwatch the skipper navigates the boat in such a manner that at the very moment of the start the team is in a perfect position to start the regatta and ready to attack the victory.
The Rolex Giraglia Regatta