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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

Proven Ways To Recover From a Bad Start

If you find you have had or are about to have a bad start, there are multiple different ways to recover. I have outlined a couple of my favourite ways to recover from a bad start below.

  • Stay Where You Are And Foot Off – If you worked out that the left side of the course is where you want to be or that that side will get you to the first shift, it will not hurt to sail in bad air for a short time. Put the bow down a couple of degrees and ease the sheets slightly, you will get clear air quickly and will be able to resume the best heading in a clear lane.
  • Tack To Port Before The Start – It’s important to realise that you are in a bad position just before the gun goes and tack to Port if there is no time or room below to foot off and regroup. You will have to duck a few boats but remember that you are still on the same ladder rung as them and as a small bonus you will get a mini-lift as the wind bends behind each of the Starboard Tackers. This works really well if you want to go Right and you still have the option to tack back to Starboard if a clear lane opens up.
  • Tack and Duck – This is done not long after the start when you find yourself in the second or third row with no hope of digging out. You may need to foot off to get enough separation or even to slow up for a few seconds to allow the tack and duck but just be careful that you don’t have to duck rows and rows of boats once on Port. 
  • Wait for a Lane to Appear to enable a Tack – This happens when you have had a reasonable start, near the front row but have a high sailing boat to leeward and a boat about to roll you to windward. Wait for a short time for the traffic to thin out while constantly looking for a clear lane on Port. Make sure that you tack before the boats ahead do otherwise you will have lost any advantage that you may gain. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of getting tacked on.
  • Recover One by One – After a bad start, recover one by one and don’t let your position get inside your head. If you start to think about passing 10 boats in one shot, this is the way you lose. Strategically pick off your competitors one by one at the same time striving for a clear lane, getting in phase with the shifts and getting to the side of the course that your pre-race homework established as favoured.

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