How to Start Faster
In case you missed the last racing seminar:
It’s make or break time out on the racecourse, how to get a flying start and what to do when things don’t go quite to plan.
When the race officer sounds the starting signal for the Super Sunday races, he can already see which boats are going to compete in the leading pack, which will be fighting with the mid fleet masses, and which crews will consider a recovery to the mid fleet a success. For most racers, the first five minutes set the agenda for the entire race. Yet, unlike sprinters or tennis players, who spend hours and days practicing starting and serving techniques, most of us are content with the 15 minutes or so starting practice we get each weekend in our local club races, compared with the three hours course-racing practice which inevitably follows each start. We all experience elements of a bad start from time to time: no space to leeward so no opportunity to accelerate without being lee-bowed; blanketed by boats to windward; starting at the unfavored end and seeing the fleet crossing boat lengths ahead within minutes of the start; in irons going backwards when the gun goes; or simply being pinned on starboard tack unable to follow any preset strategy. Worse still, sticking out from the crowd in the event of a black flag or individual recall. Consistent good starters avoid these dangers by applying a mix of skills. Many are class specific: the fastest way to learn is by watching your class expert. Sadly, these skills can’t be learned simply from reading. They must be learned just the same way the expert learned them – through time on the water.
Strategic Awareness when Sailing
A clear race strategy leads to a definite starting objective. A starting objective enables realistic priorities to be set; rather than trying to win the start outright we might aim for a more conservative approach, which achieves these priorities. For example, in light conditions the top priority for a keelboat is generally speed off the line, while in a dinghy it’s clear wind. If there is a wind bend favoring the right-hand side of the course, the priority will be a clear lane to tack onto port.
How to handle the boat
Practicing some specific boat handling skills will enable you to accurately position the boat on the start line:
Things we need to learn about our own class:
Practice measuring the line bias – judging how far you are from the line, observing the trends in the fleet, spotting the gaps and the hot spots.
Know your rules
To ensure good starting, we need a clear knowledge of the rules, make sure that our competitors are aware of this, and control close situations before they become incidents. WE HAVE MORE RULES PAMPLETS JUST ASK.
All good starters have their own favorite routine. As with any complicated task, a checklist, breaking the task into manageable portions, makes the whole procedure less daunting. Starting the first race of the club or world championship becomes as straightforward as eating your cornflakes. If it helps, write it down.
Here’s an example:
Now all you need is practice!!!!
See you on the water,