Getting Started in Racing


1. What is Windseeker Racing?

Windseeker racing is buoy racing in Commencement Bay in Tacoma, Washington. Races are held every Wednesday evening from April to September. A typical course may be three miles long around two or three buoys in the Bay.  The Race Committee is cognizant of when the sun sets and tries to have everyone off the course by sundown. Above all, Windseeker racing is meant to be fun! It’s a chance to sharpen your sailing skills and enjoy the camaraderie of other sailors.

2. Is there a place for me?

Yes! There is a place for every skill level and almost all sailboats. Some of the most consistently winning skippers in Puget Sound race in Windseeker Racing, and many more skippers who would be classified as “Club racers” can be found rounding the marks on Wednesday evenings. There are always skippers who are just getting started in racing, too. They may be a little shaky at first, but not for long.

There are two main classes of sailboats sailing on Windseeker evenings—boats with PHRF ratings (the PHRF class) and boats that do not have a PHRF rating (Windseeker class). Many clubs call Windseeker class a “Non-flying sail,” NFS class, meaning that these boats do not fly a spinnaker. The two main classes, PHRF and Windseeker, are further divided by the Race Committee so that in the end every racer should be racing against similar boats.  All that to say: Don’t worry; there is a place for you.

3. What do I need to do before I show up, and what is the cost?

The first thing to do is to fill out the online racing entry form.

ws2You can also drop the completed form off in person at one of the Skipper's Meetings if you wish.

This tells the Race Committee who you are, what kind of boat you have, and whether or not you have a PHRF rating. You should also let the race committee when you intend to start racing.

Windseeker racing costs $5.00 per race, but racers often pay for a whole series (four or five races) at once. This saves the racer money and eliminates the need to pass five dollars to the Race Committee every Wednesday before the race.  Payment is all spelled out on the racing entry form.

4. What should I expect on a Windseeker evening?

There is a Skipper’s Meeting at 6:00 p.m. at the CYCT Clubhouse, which is located in Tyee Marina at the entrance to Tyee II. If you cannot make the Skipper’s Meeting, as many can’t because they are coming from other marinas, just arrive in the starting area, near the entrance to Tyee Marina, before race time, which is typically 7:00 p.m. for the PHRF class and 7:05 p.m. for Windseeker class.  You’ll notice that many boats arrive in the starting area around 6:30 p.m.

The Race Committee will set the starting line between an orange buoy (the pin) and the Race Committee boat. They will also announce the course for the evening on VHF Channel 68 at 6:45 p.m.  Racers who were not at the Skipper’s Meeting should plan on passing by the Committee Boat and letting the Race Committee know that you’re ready to race, especially the first time you race in Windseekers.


5. Can I get involved in sailboat racing if I don’t own a sailboat?

Absolutely!  Many people are needed to help crew on racing boats. Crew members learn about sailing and racing and they become an integral part of a boat’s team.  Crewing can be very rewarding and a lot of fun. Also, there is no cost to crew!  In the future, CYCT will have a formal on-line way for prospective crew members to connect with skippers who are looking for crew.

Windseeker racing is intended to be fun! All skippers are welcome; it is not necessary to be a member of CYCT. All participants are expected to be good sportsmen and to encourage other competitors.  CYCT’s goal is to promote, advance and encourage sailing, and one of the ways the club does this is through Windseeker Racing. We hope that you will come and sail with us. If you’re a sailor, there is a place for you in Windseeker Racing!