Protecting your start

Protecting your start

For prolonged success in sailboat racing it is imperative to consistently get away well at the start. It will greatly increase the likelihood of a good race and whilst a bad beginning is not the end of your day, you just made it a whole lot harder!

What is a good start?
The benefits of a good start are obvious, clear wind, proactive tactics and most importantly you are already ahead of most of your opposition. The single best way to achieve a good start at speed and on the line is to have room under your bow. This gives you a nice space to build speed and to dip down and keep below the line if you are close. This can be difficult to achieve as the starting process in sailing is unique. Coaches from other sports are often quite amazed that in sailing there is no set procedure except for the countdown. We sailors literally have a situation where the race committee say you are starting here in 5 minutes, sort yourselves out!
So we set ourselves up with a nice gap to le…

The right cloth and technology?

Whilst I am a big fan of trickle down technology, it sometimes does lend itself to developments that aren't necessarily the best.
I was recently reading a post by a fellow sailmaker who was welcoming the introduction of a high end cruising fabric and pointed out that where many large sailmaking companies were very race orientated and spent vast sums setting up new construction techniques, they would often try and add a bit of "value added" by producing a cruising version of their race product! Often in these cases, the performance would be enhanced as one would expect but at the expense of longevity.
It struck a chord with me!
I have seen some people paying exorbitant prices for the latest construction techniques where at the end of the line it is utilising polyester fibres, basically still a Dacron sail at the price level of a much higher pedigree fibre in terms of both performance and durability! They could have a much better sail at a cheaper price?
Most of the world…

Finding and keeping crew

One of the most frustrating parts of owning a yacht is finding and keeping a regular crew. It is not uncommon for skippers every week to be making numerous phone calls and sending emails out desperately searching for people to make up the numbers.
It is an ongoing and very onerous task; remember we all sail for recreational purposes so who needs this hassle every week?
There are two facets to this dilemma, firstly how do we find the crew we need and secondly how do we keep them?
It is fairly well documented that a lot of sailors leave the sport in their late teens and tend to return again in the early to mid forties. Some of the reasons for this are obvious, as part of early adulthood most people are faced with quite a drastic lifestyle change, they are thrust out into the workplace or tertiary education takes over, for many of them they have their first pay packet in hand and have expendable income for partying and spending on themselves, not to mention the lure of the opposite sex.

A Calm Head

ACalm Head can help you get ahead.
We all get the opportunity to watch a lot of sporting events. Whilst not one to sit for hours in front of a screen watching games, I do enjoy watching team sports when the scores or result is up for grabs. Regardless of the sport, a few things are almost guaranteed. The team that retains its composure and adheres to its structures will almost certainly prevail.
Sailing is very much in this category. If you find yourself under pressure coming up to a finish, a mark, a start-line or just a cluster of boats, you begin to lapse into negative talk to yourself and as a group. Whether a single hander or a maxi.
“Not again”
“This always happens”
“What if I make a mistake, it will be my fault, and I will let everyone down”
“They (the other boat(s) are better than us”
Pressure adds aggravation, the after guard want a quick solution and put unrealistic expectations on others. This is highlighted a lot in larger crews but not just for them, I have lost count of the num…

Bad start blues

Oops bad start!
It has happened to all sailors, some on a more regular basis than others it must be said. That horror start where it just doesn’t seem to happen? It could come down to many factors, which may have been an error of judgement on your behalf, a malfunction or because of other boats actions (or sometimes inactions). But we have been there, back in the ruck watching the other boats sailing away from us. This is usually accompanied by feelings of disappointment and frustration.
Address the issue
It is so very important not to wallow in self-pity but to look at ways to overcome the problem. Whilst there is no doubt that a loss has been made. It is our immediate priority to minimise the loss and try and get back into the race. We can look at the factors that caused the bad start later and rectify them for the future, no point bawling out the crew for that override on the winch when you need to be in recovery mode. We can’t change the past but can learn from it. It’s just spilt m…


It has long been accepted Polaroid sunglasses help see the shifts.
What Sunny’s are best for your sailing. I always liked yellow.
From Sailing World.

Cross training in sailing.

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