Starting Races on Runs or Reaches

Published on September 10th, 2013

By Glenn McCarthy, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation
When the first mark is a reach or a run, competitors find they have to adjust their thoughts, ideas, tactics and positioning in order to get across the starting line. Something happened in this sport, I’m not sure if it was caused by admiration for the beautiful standardized Maoist Green clothing worn in China, or that the uniform for kids in the U.S. became wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt, but there has been a change to conformity in sailboat races having all races start upwind! It is drab green doing the same thing over and over.

There is no requirement in the rules to start upwind. We are doing “Windward/Leeward” races all day long, but we can create a little diversity by starting them downwind! I guess we would call these races Leeward Windward races. Are the skills all that different sailing the legs of the course that way? No. It is only the race starts, starting downwind and the finishing upwind that would be different.

Starting some races on runs or reaches would also be good practice for when sailors make port – to – port races, such as the Chicago – Mackinac, St. Joseph, Queen’s Cup, Tripp Cup, Michigan City, etc., races. Many of those races start offwind. Somehow, for the most part, we have eliminated offwind starts. There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that those Maoist uniforms are just too damn sexy and we emulate that by starting upwind all of the time. Get out there and reconfigure your race starts! Add just a little variety in your life.

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