Some ideas on where to start on the line from Dave Perry from the US Sailing site.
Just like buying a new home, the key to getting a good start is location, location, location. I divide the starting line into three regions. I call the quarter of the line nearest the pin end of the line – The Pin, the quarter of the line nearest the race committee boat – The Boat, and the section in between – The Middle. Before every start I decide which region, and what part of each region I am going to start in.
The Pin – I plan to start in The Pin when the pin end is favored (more upwind in an upwind start) or the left side of the first beat is favored (pressure, shift, current). I remind myself that starting in The Pin is the riskiest region; the most difficult to get a good start in especially if I am slow, and the hardest to find clear air after if I don’t get a good start. If I choose to start in The Pin, especially early in a series, I will start at the uppermost area of The Pin, with several boats between me and the pin.
The Boat – I plan to start in The Boat when the boat end is favored or the right side of the first beat is favored. I keep in mind that it is relatively easy to get a decent start in this region, and a quick right-hand turn (tack to port) to find clear air; so this is a good place to start if I know I am slower or less experienced than others. If a big crowd is setting up right at the boat, I slide down to the lower edge of The Boat, with several boats between me and the boat.
The Middle – I plan to start in The Middle when the line is relatively square and there is no one favored side or I am not sure which side is favored. I remind myself there are likely more open lanes to be had in the middle, and with the usually sag (and especially with a reliable line sight) it is relatively easy to get my bow out in front of the boats on either side of me at the start. It is also the most conservative place to start because it gives the most options for which way to go up the first beat, and minimizes the risk of being deep in the wrong corner of the beat. If one end or one side is mildly favored, I slide in that direction in The Middle.
Dave Perry is one of several renowned sailing experts participating in US SAILING’s 2010 Speaker Series. The author of Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012, 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes 2009-2012, and Winning in One-Designs offers up his top tactical tips beginning this week…