The following info is helpful in understanding some concepts in assigning bow numbers for sprint and head races.
Sprint races normally go from 1-6 on a standard six lane course. Courses are frequently wider going up to 7, 8, or even 10 lanes.
Lanes are numbered left to right by default, but some old school courses may change that numbering such that the lane numbers start in the lane closest to the finish tower.
Some race courses have a lane zero travel lane.
On a fair course, lanes are assigned from the middle outward. We usually start with lane 4 as the highest priority lane so that bow numbering is the same whether a race is using 6 or 7 lanes.
FISA bow numbers are separate from lane numbers. Bow numbers will always be assigned 1-n even if there are just 3 lanes. Bow numbers are to identify boats. The lanes being used are assigned at the beginning of the day and the referees at the starting line will indicate to the competitors which lane they are racing in.
Bow numbers for head races are assigned sequentially across all flights such that each bow number is unique within the race.
Usually head race events have a few unassigned bow numbers between events to make it easier to make changes. These changes can be used for a number of types of changes:
- Late entries
- Move a lightweight boat into an open event if they don’t make weight
- Move a boat of masters into a masters event if they accidentally signed up for an open event