Harken Derm

How to Race Your Cruiser

Published on October 13th, 2015

Every sailboat is at heart a racing boat, and every sailor should do a little racing, simply because it will make you a better sailor.

This is why renowned naval architect and yachtsman Uffa Fox, in his classic work “According to Uffa,” admonished beginners to get out racing as soon as possible, because: “Once you race every fault is pointed out in the way other boats sail away from you, and when you do anything well this too is revealed as you start sailing away from the rest of the fleet.”

Beyond that, sailboat racing is also deeply satisfying, if for no other reason than you absolutely, positively, cannot use your engine, which can be a pain, but means that when you’ve reached the finish you’ve done so through your seamanship and ingenuity alone. Of course, to an outsider, racing can appear not only confusing, but stressful to the point of being downright painful. However, it’s not half as chaotic as it seems once you understand the basic principles involved.

There are also plenty of races and programs expressly designed to make racing as accessible as possible, and even the biggest, fanciest regattas typically have a place for beginners, in the interest of building their fleets.

Remember too that the other crews out there want newbies like you to join in, since the more competition they have the better. So let’s get out there, mix it up a little and have some fun. – SAIL magazine, full story

Comment: When encouraging non-racy people to race, I have grown fond of saying how to race is only to “sail with a purpose.” Much like most forms of exercise, you begin with a plan to test yourself, and racing is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to assess one’s sailing skills. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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