VIDEO: On winning the match race prestart

Published on March 24th, 2015

by Dave Perry, 4-time US National Champion:

The Prestart has three distinct sections:
1) The Entry and First Meeting (4:00 min to start to 2:45 or so)
2) The Middle Phase (2:45 or so – 1:30 or so)
3) The Final Approach (1:30 or so to 0:00)

I explain the tactics and strategies for each section in my Match Racing Playbook published by North U.

This video provides a classic match race start between the Spanish and the Australian teams in the Gold Medal series at the 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth, England. The warning signal is at counter #1:00. The boats are the Elliott 6m.


The key moments in the start are listed below for your study. The times are “time to start” which you can see on the screen. You can hear the on-board communications between the sailors which is very good.

4:00 – Spain enters Yellow; Australia enters Blue
3:45 – Dial Up (note how Spain stays back which is safer in big waves and wind)
3:00 – Spain exits Dial Up (sailing backwards is risky for Yellow, so she safely bails out)
2:50 – 1:40 – a series of classic clockwise circles
1:40 – Australia calls off circles and prepares to Lead Back (perhaps 5 seconds too soon as it turns out)
1:35 – Spain tacks into the Push and sails towards the RC Boat, “Pushing from Above” to force the boats towards the starting line
1:20 – 0:15 – a series of big Ups and Downs as Australia defends against being “hooked” (overlapped to leeward)
0:15 – perhaps because she thinks she is early to the Pin, Australia allows herself to be “hooked” and tacks out
0:05 – Australia tacks back to starboard, and as a result gives Spain a “Close to Leeward” start (meaning Australia will have to tack to port soon after the start). This is OK *if* the Pin end is quite favored. But given there was a Dial Up, indicating the starting line was pretty square, Australia may have been stronger had they simply started on port tack at full speed. That way, they would have had the critical starboard tack advantage when the boats first came together after the start.

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