The course SHOULD be enjoyable, fair for all sailors, allow sailors to use their skill and have many opportunities for overtaking.
The course SHOULD NOT have any legs that go against these principles – ie no very close reaches or beats that don’t need a tack. In motor-racing terms, it’s as if the track was so narrow no-one could overtake.
The first leg of the course from a Committee Boat start is always the beat, so set this first:
Imagine a line on the Harbour representing the wind direction and chose the first mark (the upwind mark) at the top end of this line, with the Committee Boat at the bottom end. So with the wind blowing from Hengistbury Head (ie from the SW), the upwind mark is bound to be Buoy 3 and the end of the start line (commonly called the ODM or Outer Distance Mark) at Buoy 1.
Always have the course coming back to Buoy 6, so that you can stand on the jetty for the lap count and the finish (Except when there is a light wind from the N or NE, when Buoy 6 is so difficult, you should leave it out altogether and have an “on-water” finish)
The rest of the course can be any combination of reaches and runs and even another beat.
Don’t put in unnecessary marks in - i.e. coming from Buoy 1 to Buoy 6, you don’t need Buoy 7 as part of the course.
The size of the course should reflect the wind strength: in planing conditions you can use the whole Harbour, but in very light winds you should keep the boats on the Club side of the river.
Imagine yourself in a boat going round the course and check that you have the right “hand” for each buoy, then post the course on the board using the red or green numbered buoy-marks.