AYC has had a long-standing policy that if takes five boats to make a racing fleet, while also saying that a fleet with fewer boats may request its own start. After an online discussion, Fleet Captain Greg Woodcock has offered this further explanation:
Race Committee should take a customer-supplier (racer-race committee) attitude. I think this is already taking place. The fleets should feel free to make requests to the race committee and the race committee should accommodate requests when they make sense and comply with the RRS and SI.
So, if there are two fleet captains who want to start together, just ask the race committee. Maybe you want to do starts with a lot of boats on the line; if the fleets agree, I’m all for it. If you want to sail all triangles or all windward/leeward, let the race committee know.
What about starting one-boat fleets by themselves? I discussed this issue with the LP Portsmouth fleet captain, for example, and he said he didn’t want to start by himself. I discussed it with the Thistle fleet captain, who said putting a single Portsmouth boat with them did not cause a problem in the past. I hope that continues to work out and we can do the same with other fleets. (Portsmouth needs to recruit more active racers though!)
More starts means longer start sequences. At Lake Pleasant, it’s 10 minutes for two additional starts—and most likely just the first start of the day. After that, starts should occur as each fleet completes the course. At Tempe Town Lake, it would be an additional three minutes for an additional start. I don’t think the fleets that want to sail by themselves would view this as much of a downside. If you really want to shorten the start sequence, just find some fleet captains who want to start together and let the race committee know. If you want to make it permanent, you could even put it in your fleet rules.
This additional thought from Commodore Mike Ferring: If your fleet is running into conflicts with boats from other fleets, please try to work out the issues with the individuals. Some of the competitors are inexperienced or unfamiliar with the Racing Rules of Sailing and may not know that they shouldn’t barge at the start or don’t know about the three-boat-length rule at the marks. Let’s bring them up to speed so they can mix it up with the rest of us (who may know the rules but push them)!