Getting off the Line and Up to Speed

A post from Quantum Sails by way of Sailing World. A reminder on how to get a good start.


In large fleets, starts can make or break a race, so make sure when you line up for go, you know exactly where you want to be, and how to get your boat moving afterwards. Remember these key aspects of every start and you’ll get off the line every time!


On the line Checks

  1. Head to wind check. Sight across the boat, which end is higher or favored?
  2. Where is the next mark?
  3. How strong is the fleet? Size/speed of competitors.
  4. What is the best course for the fastest first beat?
  5. Check laylines for the starting box – windward & leeward ends.
  6. Time the line – know how long it takes to run to each end.
  7. The Practice Start

A practice start helps assure success by creating a plan of attack for your next set up.

  1. Confirm lines of sight and bearings on the line
  2. Check laylines
  3. Confirm wind direction and close hauled headings
  4. Approximate timing for the final approach
  5. Check sail trim for acceleration off the line
  6. Confirm crew organization and communications

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By |2016-02-16T12:43:37-08:00February 16th, 2016|Racing Skills|0 Comments

5 Tips: How to Survive a Squall When Racing

What sort of weather will see at the Shipwrights’? Who knows. But in case we have a repeat of the boat buster that came up several years ago, here are some thoughts on dealing with a squall when racing from Yachting World.


Things get complicated when dark clouds build to windward and the horizon looks more like night than day. There’s breeze under squall clouds, but could it herald a major change in the weather? Can you survive with the sailplan or should you change down?

While you may be fine under current conditions, doing nothing risks blowing out sails or could end your race completely. But to change down jibs or drop the spinnaker might lose you the race. It’s a gamble, but delaying the call until the boats around you are on their beam-ends is probably far too late.

Read more on-line here.

By |2016-02-02T12:14:32-08:00February 2nd, 2016|Racing on the Bay|0 Comments

5 Tips: Getting a Good Start – and the 60 Seconds After That

If a good start is the key to good race, the last tack into the start and the first 60 seconds out of it are crucial, explains top America’s Cup sailor Terry Hutchinson. From Yachting World.

Photo from Yachting World

The subtleties of a good start are more complicated than identifying a good spot to leeward and starting next to someone who is going to give space and be happy to be rolled – although they both seem to help.

For me, consistent starting comes from repetition of the process and having a team that is working together without the need for constant communication. Simple buzzwords such as ‘kill high, aggressive turn here’, or ‘smooth tack to upwind’ are just a few things that help to get the point across succinctly.

But a good start is as much about boat positioning before the start as it is about the 60 seconds after the start. For this piece we are going with the concept that a nice hole has been carved out for the slingshot.

Within this scenario I want to focus on a port approach and the 60 seconds after the start.

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By |2015-10-12T12:07:41-07:00October 12th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Flow Control of the Kite

A post from Mike Ingham in Sailing World

In run mode, wind flows vertically in the spinnaker, entering near the head and exiting from the foot. Photo by Paul Todd/Outside Images.

In run mode, wind flows vertically in the spinnaker, entering near the head and exiting from the foot. Photo by Paul Todd/Outside Images.

In the previous issue we visited Cornell University’s wind tunnel to see how wind flows around an asymmetric spinnaker. We learned a lot, of course, especially the importance of being dynamic with our trim, so we went back to the tunnel to explore some key points of symmetric spinnaker flow and trim.

Before stepping into the tunnel, I had a naïve vision of attached flow on both sides of the spinnaker. What I quickly discovered, instead, was that the smoke showed large areas of stagnation and early flow separation. Thinking our 3D printed plastic test spinnaker was too rigid, or its shape flawed, we went out and placed telltales on my J/24 spinnaker. Our real-world tests confirmed our wind-tunnel findings: The flow is there, but it’s less than ideal. The difficulty in getting flow to go the way we want, and keeping it attached as long as possible, emphasizes how important and attentive trimming really is.

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By |2015-07-21T10:42:52-07:00July 22nd, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Columbia River Man Overboard

Coast Guard image

Coast Guard image

A post by John Selwyn Gilbert on Scuttlebutt.

I was knocked overboard – at dusk – about 25 years ago in the Governor’s Cup on the Chesapeake Bay when the J/35 I was racing death-rolled to weather while I was trimming the spinnaker. As soon as I hit the water, I knew the boom was coming down and I actually pushed myself as far under as I could to avoid it. When I came up, the boat was already far away from me.

I initially tried to swim to the buoy they threw, but realized there was no way I could catch up with it heading downwind in 25+ knots of breeze. What really helped was actively telling myself, “Don’t panic, just float with the breeze & current. They will be back to get me.” It really did seem like an eternity (It was less than 7 minutes, I think) but they did make it back and my firefighter/EMT bowman pulled me back on board. I couldn’t lift my arms for hours – I was exhausted.

By |2015-06-30T17:05:52-07:00June 30th, 2015|Racing Skills, Safety, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ingham’s Insight: Pinch Through The Lull

Once you start wrapping your head around VMG, you start to realize that making the boat go faster sometimes might be the slower way to the mark. From Sailing World.

From Sailing World

From Sailing World

Although it defies our instincts, it pays to pinch in a lull.
By Mike Ingham Posted February 10, 2015

We were in Newport, R.I., last summer doing some straight-line upwind speed tests. The puffs felt good with crew weight nicely on the rail, but the lulls sent the crew scurrying inboard to balance the boat. The helm got that terrible squishy feeling and the jib’s windward tales stalled.

My focus was on those windward jib tell tales and it seemed logical to bear off to keep them flowing, but I had to bear off a lot, and I lost height with almost no forward gain. I was losing VMG, and even worse, I gave up my gap on the boat to leeward.

post and video continue here

By |2015-04-22T10:25:03-07:00April 22nd, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Sailrace Seminar Reminder, Monday the 9th, Sail Trim for Speed

The T-Birds get a solid start at the Shipwrights'. Photo, one of many great ones, by Wendy Feltham.

The T-Birds get a solid start at the Shipwrights’. Photo, one of many great ones, by Wendy Feltham.

Dear Sailors,
For those of you participating in the Shipwrights’ regatta, let’s hear what you learned from our sessions this winter!
Did you repack the spinnaker?
Did you hoist the spinnaker on the way out to the racing course? First beer already!!!!!
Did you practice jibing a few times?
Did you go up wind and check you jib leads.
Did you check the wind direction on either tack ?
Was there any osscilations any pattern to the shifts?
Did you test your speed with any of your other competitors going upwind or checked with them to determine which side was favored.
Did you check the starting line bias?
Did any one circle counter clockwise before the start?
Had a few beers, told a few stories and had lots of fun I gather.
See you on Monday at 6 pm NWMC.
Guest speaker Vince Townrow from Ullman Sails well talk about Sailtrim, sailshape and how to make you go faster!

By |2015-03-04T22:00:56-08:00March 4th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Monday Sailracing Encounter Group Reminder

Here is a reminder that we are still meeting. Next seesion is on Monday, February 9the at 6pm at the NWMC.
We are planning to discuss the racing rules. If you need an update, Speed and Smarts #124 Jan/Feb 2013, and for a rules Quiz, #125 March/April 2013 issue. They can all be downloaded on the internet so you can get immediate access.

Jim Heumann will discuss a smartphone app called RaceQs and give a demo on this as well!
It is raining in the mountains, plead for dropping freezing levels!!!!!

By |2015-02-05T11:15:22-08:00February 5th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

A Video Worth Studying

Excellent seminar on the 26th. Stig showed this video and pointed out that he and his crew watch it frame by frame. Lots of great information from technique, to timing, to using crew weight to steer the boat.

Shipwrights is just around the corner. What are you working on to up your game?

By |2015-01-26T21:31:43-08:00January 26th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments