Sailing is a sport where lack of preparation in any one of the four main areas has the ability to ruin your race day. Below, you will find some (but by no means all) must-do preparation activities.
- Use training to change ingrained bad habits and to make sure that all manoeuvres become second nature. Repetition is your friend here.
- Don’t always practice the things that are easy or fun. For instance, practice heavy air gybing even if you know you may end up in a tangle or worse, capsize.
- In your keelboat, to prepare for an overnight or longer race, go out after dark and put a few hours carrying out different things like sail changes, gybes, tacking and watch systems.
- Create a situation where something has gone wrong and then practice how to remedy it. As an example, in a dinghy, it may be a kite sheet under the boat or in a keelboat, it may be a wineglass around the forestay or a spinnaker that has ended up in the water.
- Find a fixed mark and practice your time on distance. Use a starting sequence to make sure you are able to speed up or slow down at the appropriate times to get to the mark exactly on zero.
- You will never win if you don’t put in the time training and practicing separately from racing.
- Prevent losing through equipment failures and carry spares such as short lengths of rope, Duct or electrical tape, spare shackles, sail repair tape, a multitool or assorted tools if space and weight are available.
- Make sure everyone is aware of where the spares and tools are stored.
- Mark all sheets, control lines, halyards and things like travellers and jib cars. After each race or training session, make notes on what worked and what didn’t.
- Refer to your notes before every time you venture out on the water.
- Before leaving the beach or dock, make sure every shackle and fastening is tight.
- Check all sheets, halyards and control lines for wear and repair or replace where necessary
- Being mentally prepared before a race is essential. Go over the upcoming event in your mind taking into consideration wind and wave conditions and the people that you will be sailing against.
- Get to the boat early and get in the zone. Forget about work, the upcoming party or social event and just do a rough plan in your head about how you see the day unfolding.
- Set your boat up early and then relax, don’t get too involved in the boat part banter and frivolity.
- Stress in a race is your greatest opponent so if something goes wrong, do your best to take a chill pill, calm down and then reset.
- For Dinghies, it is essential that you can hike for extended periods. You need to be able to do this without muscle pain or cramps and if can’t, you will lose concentration. Those competitors that are hiking as hard in the last 100 metres as they were at the start will beat you every time. Explain what you do in your boat so your trainer can develop a relevant training regime for you.
- On Keelboats, the control lines and sheets have a far greater load than in a dinghy. You will need more emphasis on upper body strength in the shoulders and arms. If you don’t have the knowledge, find a good trainer and explain what it is that you do and get them to design a program for you. Longer offshore races require stamina. Before leaving the dock, make sure you are well-rested. As well, ensure you have appropriate food and drink available throughout the event. Keep fluids up throughout the race to aid concentration.