How to Do Well at the Sailboat Race – by Doug Roberts

How to do well in a Sailboat Race – Pay attention to the details

I have always believed that in order to do well in a sailboat race you must pay attention to every minute detail, non-stop, throughout the entire race, to the point of obsession.

Even before you launch you check the mast to ensure it is properly adjusted. You check your sails to ensure they are in good order. You check your wind indicators. You check your hull.

During the race you must pay attention to details. You must monitor the wind at all times, and trim the sails accordingly. You must pay attention to the line you are running to ensure it is the fastest way around the course, each degree of pointing you gain or lose on the most direct line to the mark means time. You must watch the waves to ensure they help carry your boat and not cause a header. You must keep a watchful eye on your competitors to ensure they do not gain a position to put you at a disadvantage. You must mind the tiller, for each movement of the tiller is akin to putting on the brake. You must keep you boat on its best plane, minimize the surface contact.

But as I learned recently, you must also pay attention to the non-verbal instructions of the race committee before the start of each race.

If the course is a standard triangular course, there are nine different races that can be run from that configuration. The sign on the side of the committee boat is there to inform you as to what course to run. You should check it between the time the class flag goes up and the start of the race. (oops I missed this instruction on the first race last of the Yankee Doodle)
The flags are also part of the non-verbal instructions of the committee boat, get to know the color of flag for your class and watch for that flag to be raised. This is your indication to start the race. Verbal cues and horns are optional. Regardless of the preliminary instructions at the skippers meeting, the race committee may change the instructions. These non-verbal cues are the way they communicate with us on the course.

Attention to detail is a key to doing well in a race.

Hope to see you at the Infinity Regatta.

Doug Roberts – Racing Chairman

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