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Heads up, all you race committee wannabes and others who would like to refresh your race-management skills before you have to do it the hard way on the water.

This year's annual Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association Race Management Seminar will take place Saturday at Annapolis Yacht Club.

This valuable and highly instructive daylong session offers plenty of solid meat for RC types of just about every level of experience.Having attended it myself last year, I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone who will be spending time on race management this season.

The session works like this:

Following brief welcoming remarks at 9 a.m. in AYC's lower-deck Skipjack Lounge, the attendees divide into two groups.

Group A, for new race committee members and those who have not participated in the Rowse Race Management Simulationpreviously -- usually about one-third to one-half of the total participants in the seminar -- stay in the Skipjack Lounge to spend the next couple of hours going through Rock Creek Racing Association memberGordon Rowse's highly acclaimed simulation exercises.

For the simulation program, participants are divided into several groups of six or eight, each in its own "race committee," equipped with models of boats, marks, flags, and most of the other gear used by an on-water race committee.

After a short introduction and explanation, Rowse runs through a timed pictorial series illustrating situations which might be encountered on the water during a race, and each "committee" uses its model equipment and scoring sheets to start, manage and finishthe compressed "race" illustrated with the overhead projector.

Itmay sound a little hokey, but as a learning experience it works.

And it's nearly as much fun and exciting as actually being there, without the chance of sunburn or seasickness -- or of being yelled at byirate racers.

When the race is finished, each committee scores the imaginary finishers and the participants come together to discuss their experiences, compare notes and find out where they went wrong.

While this is going on, the more experienced race committee types of Group B adjourn upstairs to the third-deck dining rooms, where theycan choose to sit in on three of six presentations and panel discussions on various aspects of race management.

One series' speakers and their topics this year include veteran CBYRA Rules and Appeals Committee Chairman Harry Keith on protest committee procedures; U.S. Sailing Executive Director John Bonds on what sailors can expect; and Eastport Yacht Club commodore and race officer Mark Murphy on multiracedays for handicap fleets.

In the other concurrent series, speakers and topics include U.S. Sailing Area Race Officer Phil Richmond on championship regattas; CBYRA President Tom Curtis on CBYRA race committee problems and issues; and CBYRA Junior and Youth representative Bill Torgerson on junior regattas.

In the afternoon the group reunites to go through more discussions on subjects of importance to all race officers.

This year's afternoon speakers include champion Soling sailor and racing author Stuart Walker on wind, current and other factors for the race committee; senior race officer and internationaljudge Ron Ward on navigation for race committees; CBYRA Race OfficerDevelopment Chairman Ham Palmer on the association's Club Race Officer Program; and Bonds, fielding a question-and-answer session about U.S. sailing.

The program concludes about 3:30 p.m. The seminar is free of charge to participants.

Although the hourlong midday breakis sufficient for participants to go downtown and find a meal elsewhere, lunch is offered at AYC for $8, and a cash bar is available during lunch and following the seminar. These are social times that offeropportunities to share ideas and ask questions.

This seminar, which also is a qualifier in the process of becoming a certified club race officer, is one of the most important things club race committee members and potential members can do to prepare themselves to run goodraces.

If you've never done race committee duty before and wonderwhy you should be interested in getting involved in this aspect of the sport, there are several significant benefits to consider.

Yourclub needs a pool of qualified volunteers to run the kind of races you would enjoy sailing. As an experienced racer or trained race manager, you can bring a clear understanding of the things that go into running a good race to your club's committee.

And your own racing skills can benefit from time spent on the other side of the fence.

In addition to the obvious translatable benefit of gaining valuable experience in such things as rules, signals and procedures, you will have the opportunity to observe wind and current factors in your home racing region from a more empirical point of view than you generally have while battling it out on the course.

Most importantly, however, serving on a race committee can be a lot of fun.

For reservations or more information, call CBYRA at 269-1194.

Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.

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