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Small Things Can Have a Major Impact in a Race

  1. Make all your lines as short as possible, this reduces weight and minimizes the number of tangles you’ll get. Use a magic marker or piece of tape to mark important settings on each sheet.
  2. Minimize twists in the spinnaker halyard tail by tying the end to a fixed point. All your halyards, especially the main, will stretch, so you may have to tighten them occasionally.
  3. A rolled sail guarantees it will last longer, take your time and do it right to prevent kinks and bends. If under postponement on the water, roll them up and keep them out of the sun and if you have to leave them up, prevent them from flogging.
  4. Use shock cord to hold hiking straps as close to normal hiking position as possible, this will ensure that you won’t have to reach into the bilge searching for the strap with your toes after every tack.
  5. Wrapping tape around parts of the rigging is really important to stop inadvertent unravelling or pins coming loose. However, seeing little tape ends that have come unstuck and are flapping in the breeze is bad. To prevent this, put silicone sealant over the ends of the tape but make sure you use as little tape as possible.
  6. Adjust your mainsheet cam so the jaws are just below the mainsheet when you are trimming it from a hiked-out position. You want the cam low enough so the sheet won’t automatically go into the cam but you want the cam high enough so you can use your foot to get the sheet in the cam temporarily.
  7. Don’t leave lines in a cam cleat as this wears out the springs. Use metal instead of plastic cam cleats because these hold better and last longer plus you can even sharpen them when they begin to wear.
  8. Clear the weeds from your centreboard and rudder just before the start. On a keelboat, you’ll have to back down to do this. If you have an engine, don’t set your prop too early in light air because you may need some help to get to the favoured end of the line before the preparatory signal.
  9. Read the Sailing Instructions before getting to the starting area. Concentrate on courses, recall procedure, shortened course, protest requirements and any other sections where the committee may have modified standard procedure. Always encourage your crew to read the instructions as well.
  10. Use magnetic tape or yarn for sail telltales and sail repair tape is the best way to stick telltales to the sail. Make it easy to tell which telltale is on which side by using red yarn on port and green on starboard with the starboard telltales a little higher.
  11. Before and during the race, there are certain things you should record for future reference. These include wind direction, the order of marks, compass course to marks, and heading on each tack. Use a grease pencil to write anywhere on fibreglass because it’s easily erasable and still works when the boat is wet.
  12. Sailors, like all athletes, need water to keep from getting dehydrated, get a water bottle with a spout and put it in a place where it’s easy for the crew to reach. Encourage everyone to drink, both before and during the race.
  13. Start the race with your bilge as dry as possible. In windy conditions, if you are planning to sail the race with your thru-hull bailers open, you may have to close them while luffing before the start.
  14. Your best source of good ideas is other sailors. Talk to the competitors in your fleet, and spend some time perusing their boats and their setups. You will definitely come away with a few new ideas, tricks and techniques. FREE BOOK! 49 SAILING SECRETS & TIPS  

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