This is the start of the 505 race in San Francisco. Picture poorly stolen from the recent Sailing World. You can see the "pathfinder" (rabbit) on port tack closehauled and closely followed by the committee motor flying their flag (hard to see). The boats on Starboard cross behind the motor boat to start. A good way to start a large aggressive fleet with out a lot of recalls.
Informal rabbit races start with just the rabbit starting from the leeward mark (helps to have whistle or some sound signal saying this is the start.). The other boats line up along the port tack lay line and start by passing behind the rabbit. As soon as everyone has passed behind the rabbit can continue in the race to the windward mark. If you lack a committee boat, everyone takes their own finishes at the agreed on place.
This takes a little practice to find the spot along the lay line and you need to explain before going out on the water to those that don't understand the rabbit thing.
A more informal rabbit thing is just to tell the slowest boat "you are the rabbit" and get them started up wind and everyone else just join in behind.
Happy, chase the rabbit.
Some recent posts on my new blog
2 months ago