ADVICE: Turning a cruising boat into a race boat

Published on September 29th, 2014

DEAR CURMUDGEON: I have a heavy cruising boat that cruises perfectly around Puget Sound in comfort. Do you have any easy tips on how I can improve its speed so I can occasionally participate in local races? – RACER IN CRUISER’S CLOTHES

The good news is that practically any boat is a race boat, and since you are interested in racing, I bet your boat will work too.

The first thing to consider is not speed, but functionality. You want to make sure all your rigging and hardware are ready and willing to work smoothly when asked upon. Crew work also comes before speed, so you want to make sure your team knows what to do at each turn.

Since you are new to racing, look for the events that have simple courses with few turns. The point-to-point races minimize crew work, and offer a manageable environment to begin “sailing with a purpose.” Also seek out the ‘low key’ events which tend to attract newer or more casual racers.

As for speed, make sure your bottom is clean and your sails are relatively fresh. Since I suspect you will be handicap racing, this is the criteria that your boat’s rating will assume. Since ratings are for the boat, and not the sailors, the handicap committee assumes your boat is ready to race.

The bottom line is to begin with a good attitude and never forget that it’s recreation. Know your limits, enjoy your day on the water, and seek out the après-racing with your fellow competitors afterwards. – CURMUDGEON

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