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.

#starting #sailboatstart #yachtrace #sailing #sailingtowin


Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

How To Manage Seasickness


Regardless of what a lot of sailors will tell you, it has been reported that up to 90% of sailors experience seasickness, whether it be mild or violent, at some time in their sailing career.

Seasickness can be compared with a mild to massive hangover (only worse) and for some, the only relief comes when the boat reaches its destination.

Unfortunately, I am one of those sailors and I had a rule on my boats that no-one was allowed to be sick until I was. Fortunately for all concerned, no one had to wait long.

When putting together an offshore team, finding crew members who don’t get debilitatingly sick is really important not only for your race performance but for the safety of the boat as well.

If you do suffer from “Mal de Mer” there are a few things that may help:

  1. Drink lots of water, staying well hydrated is one of the easiest ways to prevent seasickness.
  2. Don’t sail on an empty stomach, sailing on an empty stomach can increase your chances of feeling seasick.
  3. Avoid caffeinated drinks, colas, alcohol or fatty foods a few days before heading offshore.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep before the race, and start out feeling fresh and at your best.
  5. Keep calm, feeling anxious or fearful can increase your likelihood of experiencing seasickness. Take a relaxing walk or spend some time meditating before the race, make sure you start race day feeling at-ease.

Seasickness medication should be taken at least a couple of hours before heading to the boat and if you can, it makes sense starting the medication up to a day beforehand.

Don’t try a new seasickness medication while you are out on the water, many include a sedative and can make you drowsy or have other negative effects which are not ideal if you’re in the middle of a long offshore yacht race.

Try out a new medication while onshore or in a short race to check out any potential side effects before venturing too far out to sea. Chat with your doctor or pharmacist to get advice on the right medication for you, and how to use it.

Spending too much time below decks with your head in a bag searching for gear is not a good place to be if you’re feeling sick. An easy way to minimise this is to make sure you’re well organised before leaving the dock.

While at sea, make sure you’re well-hydrated and fed, stay warm and where possible, change into warm dry gear and get in as many hours of solid sleep as you can when you are off watch.

If you do start to feel sick, one of the easiest ways to recover is to stand up and look at the horizon, looking at the horizon gives your brain important information to help its predictive system adapt to the boat’s movement, and standing up challenges it to do that faster.

Keeping busy helps as it keeps your mind off thinking about the movement and feelings of nausea and helming is a great antidote as well.

It goes without saying that if you are prone to seasickness, cooking, packing sails, or any other jobs that involve “enjoying” the smells of diesel and wet gear down below only contribute to making you feel worse.

Even if you do end up getting seasick, taking the right steps to manage it and adopting a “mind over matter” approach, means you’ll recover fast and any sickness will be a distant memory by the time you reach the finish line.




Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

Minimize Sailing Injuries – Three Best Sailing Stretches.

Copied from an article written by Brad Walker – 

 Regardless of the size of the boat, sailing will require all the upper body strength you can muster. Your upper torso, including your shoulders, arms and abdominal muscles will play a major role in operating a sailboat.

The main muscles in play are the rhomboids, trapezius and rotator cuff in the shoulders, and the deltoids of the upper arms. The biceps and triceps provide the impetus of the pull, working against the wind to keep the boat on course and tacking in the right direction

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Conduct a warm-up, including some gentle stretches, prior to getting on the boat.
  • Cool down after sailing with some basic sailing stretches.
  • A good overall conditioning program to strengthen the muscles mentioned above will help prevent many of the strain and sprain type injuries common to sailing.
  • Incorporate cardiovascular training to prevent fatigue during long days and nights spent sailing.
  • A comprehensive set of sailing stretches, with emphasis on the lower back, shoulders and arms, will help avoid many of the injuries common to sailing.
  • Proper training on water safety and swimming will help prevent drowning or near-drowning injuries.
  • Research the weather conditions before leaving and dress appropriately.
  • If possible, take frequent breaks and change positions during long periods of sailing. This will help prevent the muscles from becoming tight and causing pain.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking water every 20-30 minutes even if you do not feel thirsty. Dehydration leads to fatigue, nausea and disorientation.

Sailing stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.

Below are 3 of the best stretches for sailing; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start.

Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.

Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Bent Arm Shoulder Stretch: Stand upright and place one arm across your body. Bend your arm at 90 degrees and pull your elbow towards your body.

Lying Knee Roll-over Lower Back Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.

Squatting Leg-out Groin and Adductor Stretch: Stand with your feet wide apart. Keep one leg straight and your toes pointing forward while bending the other leg and turning your toes out to the side. Lower your groin towards the ground and rest your hands on your bent knee or the ground.


Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

Pre-Race Routines to Ensure Greater Race Day Success

Your pre-start routine shouldn’t be set in concrete and needs to be fine-tuned according to the conditions, your freshness and any glaring weaknesses that you can work on in the time available.

 Ideally, a three or four-hour gap between waking up and starting a race works best to make sure there’s time to get ready, feed, hydrate and switch on. 

Vary how early before the race you hit the water. In lighter winds, get out earlier and tune-up for longer. Allow 45-60min on the racecourse to give more time to refine your trim.

If the breeze is strong, spend 10-20 minutes less time on the course before the start signal to stay a little fresher.

If some specific aspect of your performance has let you down in prior races,  that should be worked on immediately before the next event.

If it was speed, find a buddy to do some straight-lining and make some tweaks to your set up and technique.

If it was strategy that let you down, spend more time gathering wind data and begin the race by sailing the fleet rather than immediately tacking away for glory.

No matter the venue or conditions you’ll always want to check your speed is OK on the day, check out the wind and check out the starting line.

Ideally, before you leave the shore organise to hook up with another boat to test your speed and to study the wind. 

Once on the racecourse,  have a few minutes by yourself to get stuff sorted before joining another boat for some straight-line speed testing.

Once sailing side by side with your tuning buddy, you’ll soon know how much more speed work you need to do or how long a day it might be!

If you’re faster or even speed, you can soon move on to checking the wind.

If you’re slow, review your sail and rig settings, ask your buddy how they are set up, then make a change and test again. Continue the process until you are satisfied you’ve optimised your set up for the day.

Once you are happy with your speed, expand your awareness to tracking your heading on each tack with a compass or via land references.

Sail through a few lifts and knocks on each tack to become aware of the range of wind shifts and working on speed and shifts helps to get your head outside the boat well before the start signal.

If you’re at a new venue it can be worthwhile testing to see if one side of the course is better than the other and this is best done by doing a split tack with another boat of similar speed.

To achieve this, the two boats head off upwind on opposite tacks for 3-6 mins, tack and when you converge, if one boat is ahead more than a few boat lengths then some factor has made that side better.

Discuss the result of your split tack with the other boat – was there anything that may have affected the result or could they have done better by tacking in a different spot?

Determine the most likely reason for the result – tide, geography, shift or pressure and how repeatable that effect might be.