Competitive Sailing Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

Considerations and Tips For Races and Regatta Sailing

Watching the Olympic sailing, with the silky smooth boat handling and tactics it got me thinking about the the basic things that the rest of us at all levels below the Olympians must have instinctively dialled in.

In a multi race series consistency is probably the big one but there are a number of other basic things that we should all practice and have committed to muscle memory.

  • Every time you bear off, all sheets should be eased out simultaneously.
  • When tacking, start the turn slowly and never allow your jib or genoa to back.
  • All controls should have a wide range of adjustment and be marked so you can replicate fast settings.
  • When reaching, move the jib lead forward and outboard to maximise power in the sail.
  • When approaching the weather mark, leave a little in the bank, maybe by half a boat length, this will allow for last minute wind shifts, current, a bad set of waves or other boats.
  • When hit by a gust, ease sheets first before turning the rudder and always anticipate gusts by constantly looking up the course.
  • On a multicrewed boat, appoint one person as tactician and their eyes should always be outside the boat communicating the location of extra pressure, other boats, location of marks and tactical challenges as they develop.
  • When approaching another boat, keep your speed up because if you have to manouvre, it is always easier with speed.
  • Keep an eye on your masthead wind indicator as the wind often changes higher up first.
  • The masthead wind indicator shows apparent wind and the tail points the place where the next gybe will take you.
  • When steering with a wheel, never sit to leeward and stand up so you have a greater height of eye and will get a better indication of heel angle.
  • Off the wind, if the boat is rolling wildly, head up a few degrees to stabilise the vessel.
  • In an offshore race, if you have a radio on board, keep an ear on the weather forecast so you can plan ahead accordingly.
  • Measure the rake of your mast and compare measurements with fellow competitors in order to see what is fast and what is not.
  • At the end of each days racing, have a team de-brief to work out what went right or wrong so you can learn and improve.
  • Every member of the crew should have assigned jobs and in the case of new team members, a more experienced crew should partner with them to pass on knowledge and back them up.
  • Always use gloves, this is especially important if you are the Main or Spinnaker trimmer.

#sailingtowin #sailing #sail #yachtracing #sailingcoach #sailtowin #Sailboat

Competitive Sailing Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

How To Be A Great Offshore Crewmate

I have just been following the Transpac online and that got me to thinking about how you could get invited to be a part of the crew on one of the competing boats.

Considering there are only 41 boats competing from a country with a population of some 325 million, it is a great privelige to be asked to participate as a crew.

If your ultimate ambition is to crew in the Transpac, Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart or any of the other great off shore races there are things that you can do to make sure that you are asked to participate.

Success in small boat racing is one is one of the most direct routes to getting noticed but another way to be asked is to build a reputation of being a good shipmate.

To do this you must be a contributing member of the crew, thinking before acting to avoid making a mistake, being able to follow instructions and not being too shy to ask questions if you don’t understand the job you have been given.

Always be prepared to volunteer for extra jobs,and if there is a sail change called for or there are other jobs afoot such as winding a coffee grinder, don’t hold back from offering to give someone a break even if it is not your job.

When it is time to go off watch, don’t be the first one down the hatch to your bunk and make sure that the new watch has settled in. Volunteer to make coffee and snacks for the new team prior to retiring.

When you are rail sitting, hike hard and long setting an example for the others to follow, being cheerful even though you may be cold and feeling seasick.

When you are below, space is at a premium with equipment and personal belongings taking up all available space. Help up by keeping all your gear stowed in your bag or locker and stow gear or things that aren’t yours or necessarily your responsibilty.

At the change of watch, be the first out of your bunk and frocked up ready to go upstairs. Make your watch mates a coffee or snack and start a dialogue with the retiring watch about what has been happening and what to expect for your period on deck.

When you arrive at the races destination, don’t abandon the boat for the party straight away but make sure everything is packed away and the boat is cleaned up as best as possible.

Now its time for catching up with fellow competitors and your team to relive the race over a few Bevvies.

#sailingtowin #sail #sailing #yachtracing #oceanracing #sailfaster #saitowin


Competitive Sailing Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

How To Sail Better In Light Winds

If you want to improve your results in light air you need to master the four things which are listed below.

Attitude: is the biggest hurdle to overcome, you should not fear light air just because you have sucked at it in the past.

Relish the opportunity to sail against light air specialists, those that have thrashed you in the past, and treat a light air race as an opportunity to learn from them.

In large fleets in light air there are often big shake ups throughout the day and with the right attitude you will often find that you are in a position to take advantage of shifts in direction and pressure as they occur.

Don’t worry about the fact that some boats are sailing faster. Victory in sailing races can come in many ways, with small improvements from race to race being an incentive to work harder.

Boat Improvements: in light winds, sail as light as you possibly can and leave everything that is not completely necessary on the beach or dock.

Ensure that the hull and foils are as smooth as possible and with a moored boat, clean the bottom by scrubbing before leaving for the course.

Whilst racing, continually check for weed on your blades.

In a one-design boat, tune up with a crew that is similar weight to your own plus one that is lighter or heavier so you can set your boat up to be sailing in the fastest groove.

Learn From The Competition: watch other boats to see what they are doing to see if you can change something to improve.

Look at the sail shapes they are using, the position of their travellers, sheet tensions that affect the luff and leech shape and other vital adjustments that have a bearing on boat performance.

One of the biggest mistakes that sailors make in light air is to pinch particularly in short, choppy waves. To keep your speed up in these conditions, you must foot off for speed.

Experiment: make one adjustment at a time and then leave it for a reasonable amount of time to see whether it improves your speed or not.

No matter the size of your boat, experiment with the position of the crew weight, once again look around your fleet and see where the fast teams sit.

As a generalisation in light air, you want the weight forward and with a slight heel to leeward. It is only with experimentation that will you find the fastest boat attitude.

Don’t be too shy to even try heeling to weather, as some highly accomplished sailors have been able to make that work for them.

Experiment with all adjustments available on your boat but only make one incremental change at a time, ensuring that after each, you let the boat settle down to give yourself a chance to properly evaluate the outcome. 

#sailingtowin #sailing #sailingcoach #sailtowin #yachtrace #sailfaster



Competitive Sailing Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

Losing Your Touch? How To Get Out Of A Slump

If you feel as though you are losing your touch out on the race course sometimes you need to go back and start at the beginning.

If your performance is a shadow of your past, you need to go through each one of the potential problem areas.

First, check the finish of the boat and your equipment and make sure that it is up to racing standard.

Next, go sailing and work on your steering, your sails and adjustments. If you think the problem is something you are doing, work with your team to analyse and come up with a consensus.

Once you have an answer, go out for a full training session or two to work on and fix the problem that is causing your current “go slows”.

The most important point here is don’t go looking for excuses, go all the way back to the begining and recheck everything and then go sailing to see if your performance improves.

Be honest with yourself, you may find that you are not footing because the sails are not sheeted properly or you are not pointing because you have not bent the mast to suit the conditions.

A question often asked regarding a slump is “have we peaked too soon”. Sometimes coming up to a big event it does no harm to have an uncustomary poor result to bring you back to earth.

Treat it as a wake up call and go back to the basics to evaluate where you are really at. An overconfident sailor gets too relaxed  and does not concentrate on steering, keeping the boat flat & trimmed correctly or study the sails and equipment diligently enough.

When you have a bad day, during the debrief, list at least 10 things that you could have done better and this should include input from everyone on the team. 

Once the list is put together, use your practice sessions to work on each of the things that you have identified as issues and sharpen your skills so that next time you race these problems do not occur again.