Getting a great start to the race day

Published on August 24th, 2023

By Kim Couranz, SpinSheet Small Boat columnist
Before you can go small sailboat racing, you have to get to the racing area. Sometimes that’s right off the dock, but in most venues, there’s a bit of a sail out. Getting there in time to warm up, do your racecourse reconnaissance/homework, and handle any final preparations before racing gets your day off to a good start.

So, when do you leave the dock? Having served on race committee for a few events recently, I’d say in general, sooner than you have been! Watching boats show up just a few minutes before the first start, or even later, is frustrating.

Sure, there are times where there are extenuating circumstances; the hoist has a mechanical issue, the wind dies on the way out. Often sailors are just taking their sweet time, and when that causes the race committee to postpone, it’s disrespectful to your fellow sailors and especially to your regatta volunteers.

In many fleets, a known cast of characters heads out to the racecourse on the early side. If you know who those folks are, you can always follow their lead. Watch when their sails go up, or when they roll over to the hoist, and follow suit.

But what if your fleet is a little more loosey-goosey? Learn a few key items, and be ready to shift a little earlier or later given the day’s conditions.

One key item is an easy one: What time is your first start? Be sure to read your Notice of Race/Sailing Instructions to learn what Plan A is for the first start time. Remember it may be different each day of a regatta. Keep track of any amendments that may alter this time.

Figure out when you want to arrive at the racecourse to get ready. Perhaps this is a half hour, giving you enough time to do some tacks and gybes, get some headings, do a few lineups with competitors to check your speed, and do your starting line homework.

Then, how long does it take to sail there from where you’re getting in the water? Checking with locals is your best bet. If you get a range of times, err on the longer side of that range. If nobody has a clear answer, use a chart to figure out the distance and extrapolate how long it would take. – Full story

comment banner

Tags: , ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.