This one’s a classic: If you’re the outside boat of a group approaching the leeward mark and blindly carry on with pace, you’ll sail extra distance in bad air, carry wide around the mark, and then exit in a terrible lane. This is one of the rare times when it pays to slow down and let other boats move ahead. To...
With Special thanks to Mike Hobson – J Boats, Chesapeake USA. TACTICAL Sail on the tack or gybe that points closer to the next mark. Sail in clean air. Sail toward, and in, the most wind pressure. Keep manoeuvres to a minimum. Form a game plan where you want to be after the start and first leg. What is your goal? ...
IMPROVE YOUR RACING SKILLS Boatspeed requires a combination of sail trim, accurate helming, and good balance and trim. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? The problem is that settings for a particular wind speed in flat water won’t work in big waves, nor in light airs. Just like riding a bike you need to be able to change gear to suit the conditions. Acceleration gear...
  Of course, there are some things you can do by yourself in areas such as boat preparation, sail shape and boat handling but it is almost impossible to improve your boatspeed very much by working alone. For you to make substantial progress on speed development you need to line up with two boats side by side. The best way to judge...
I recently re-read the following article by the late and great Paul Elvstrom and have reproduced it here because I believe that if we can internalise these points we will go a long way to overcoming our feelings of self-doubt and self-belief on the race track. "You must not believe that a fellow competitor is better than you. If he...
What are you good at, what are you bad at? Ever looked out at a mill-pond day and told yourself “I hate light airs” or seen it blowing dogs off chains and muttered nervously: “I’m rubbish in strong winds.” Maybe you’re just not talented enough, you tell yourself.  First, ask yourself:  What makes a great sailor? Talent or hard work? Probably...
With Special thanks to David Dellenbaugh of "Speed and Smarts" Newsletter Good boat speed is about consistency as much as anything else. Of course, almost any sailor would welcome a flash of super speed, even if it's short-lived. But that’s not what your goal should be. If you really want to improve your speed (and therefore your race results) in the long run,...
Start Before the Start Get to the racecourse at least 45 minutes before the first gun, once you arrive, there are four essential things you must do. Gather your wind readings Sail upwind and tweak sails and rig for speed, and figure out the wind pattern. The key is to watch the compass and determine a range of headings on each tack. If...
  WHY WE SHOULD PRACTICE OUR STARTS Former Olympic sprint champion Linford Christie used to say that winning the 100 Metres was all about starting on the B of BANG. In a 10-second running race, every millisecond counts. We can't claim that those last few milliseconds aren't quite so crucial in sailboat racing, but they're still mighty important. If you can get the...

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