Event volunteer roles

Whether you prefer to sit on the sidelines or get involved in the excitement of racing there’s a range of event volunteer roles to suit your talents

Your experience and expertise will help to guide and safely manage the course and its participants, to ensure a fair and accurate race.

Race management roles – On the water


After the Race Officer, the Timekeeper holds the most important position on the race committee. This role requires a good clear voice and focused single-minded concentration, as more starts have been spoiled by a distracted Timekeeper than any other single cause. Learn about timekeeping.

Key skills: Clear voice; focus


Visual Signals Officer 

The Visual Signals Officer is responsible for ensuring the visual signals are ready for display and removal at the appropriate time. They will take all their timings from the Timekeeper. Learn more about signalling.

Key skills: Clear voice: Knowledge of flags; good attention keeping


Sound Signals Officer

The Sound Signals Officer works closely with the Visual Signals Officer. They are responsible for all the sound signals that accompany the visual signals. The tasks of Sound Signals Officer and Timekeeper may be combined if the sound equipment allows.  Learn more about signalling.

Key skills: Clear voice: Focus; listening & communication



Recorders or are responsible for recording the competitors in the starting area. They will keep a log off all actions and communications, wind direction, strength, and the course used.

Recorders will also note all the boats identified as being On Course Side (OCS), and the sail numbers of boats incurring penalties or correcting errors.


A back-up recorder is recommended at the pin-end boat and the finish. A good Recorder compiles a thorough diary of the race, often using tape recorders to note exact positions when crossing the finishing line. This is handy for sorting out any confusion later, particularly when multiple boats have finished in a close group. Learn more about the finishing recorder.

Key skills: Attention to detail, attentiveness; good handwriting



Race management roles - Onshore

Race Office Team 

The Race Office Team are the glue that holds the event together. They provide the interface between the competitors, officials, and volunteers.

At the start of the event, they will manage entries and registration and will then manage and resolve any queries during the event.

The Race Office Team may be split, with a 'front office' team leading the event and providing the interaction with competitors. Alternatively, the 'back office' team will need to undertake their work without distractions.

Key skills: Personable, customer focussed, attention to detail



The Scorer is a vital member of the race office team. They are responsible for receiving recordings from the committee boats after each race, inputting them into the results packages for the event and publishing. For larger events they may also be responsible for managing the allocation of competitors to flights.

Key skills: Numerate; high levels of attention to detail


Event Safety Team

The size and scope of the Event Safety team will vary dependent on the disciplines and event size but a large dinghy regatta would likely feature the following roles some of which will be based onshore and some on the water.


Event Safety Roles - On the water

Event Safety Officer

The Event Safety Officer deals with safety and rescue operations under the guidance of the Race Officer. In practice, they both work together very closely although the Race Officer is ultimately responsible for the safety of the event. They are responsible for the production of the event risk assessment and for the management and control of the events safety resources.
At large multi-course events they may be based ashore from where they manage an on-the water team of Course Safety Leaders who each manage the patrol/safety boats on their individual course areas.

The Event Safety Officer must be familiar with the regatta venue, the characteristics of the classes competing, the class rules and the sailing instructions. Cooperation with local Rescue organisations and harbour authorities is highly recommended.

Key skills: Calm under pressure; ability to manage a team; methodical


Course Safety Leader

The Course Safety Leader is responsible for managing the team of patrol/safety boats on an individual course area and will assign each of the boats to different areas of the course. They will liaise closely with their Course Race Officer with regards to any safety related decisions such as postponing or abandoning racing on the course area.

Key skills: Calm under pressure; ability to manage a team


Safety Boat Helm / Crew

The safety boat helm / crew are responsible for monitoring competitors on the water and assisting where required. They may need to help recover competitors from the water, administer first aid, return competitors or their craft to shore or other tasks as advised by the Course Safety Leader.

Key skills: Powerboat handling (RYA PBL2) for helm; good observation; first aid is an advantage

Event Safety Roles – Onshore

Beach Master 

The Beach Master ensures the orderly and systematic launching of boats and their retrieval on return. They also take care of important safety checks such as noting who has and has not entered the water, and who is still to return.

Beach master’s usually operate a signing in and signing out system, reporting actions to the Race Officer. Radio contact is kept with the Race Officer who will advise them of the time when the last boat leaves the beach and the expected number of boats in the starting area.

Key skills: Authoritative; highly organised


Tally Team 

The tally team is responsible for the signing in and out system for the boats going afloat and ashore. This is to ensure all boats are launched and recovered safely.

Key skills: Organised; personable; attention to detail


Bridge Operators

The Bridge Operators are responsible for displaying signals on the shore-based flagpole and for monitoring and logging all relevant radio information. They are the key communicators, managing shoreside to waterside operations. 



Interested in becoming a Race official? explore our RYA Race Official courses