You will have invested considerable time money and effort to enter and travel to a sailing event so it makes sense to invest some time into preparation involving well-planned practice hours leading up to the races.
It never ceases to amaze me, how many competitors at events that I have attended have put in no extra effort other than their normal club racing prior to turning up to race at State or National championships.
It goes without saying that if you want to win, practice is essential and importantly, it doesn’t matter how close to race day it is. A day or two, immediately prior to racing begins, and in the waters that you will compete in can sometimes reap the greatest benefit.
All you need are a couple of hours to fine-tune everything so plan the night before the practice and come up with a list of things you want to work on so that when you get on the water, no time is lost getting down to the important task of working on your weaknesses.
Two or three boat practice is a huge advantage if you can swing it and after practicing some drills it is really advantageous to carry out some short races to further hone your skills and to understand the things that still require attention.
Practice races should include a start, upwind leg and downwind leg, short and sharp with a number of starts in order to give you time to make adjustments and have a discussion between the participants to improve the things that are troubling you.
As important as the short races and on water discussions are, probably the most benefit to be gained can be had back on shore with a debrief between all participants.
Obviously having a coach on the water during your practice sessions is the ideal situation and they will be able to guide the debrief using their observations but there is still plenty to be gained in discussions between participating sailors should you not have the luxury of a coach.
Note-taking is essential after all training and practice sessions and I highly recommend keeping a journal of not only training and practice findings but also jotting down a few notes of observations from every time you hit the water.
This journal should be referred to regularly because as an example, it is no point coming in from a heavy air race to discover that you didn’t use a setting that worked brilliantly in a previous race in identical conditions.