By Airwaves writer Rachel Bennung
In high school and college sailing your start is one of the most important things. You may be thinking, well getting a good start is important in any race. You are correct, however, in high school and college sailing it is the key component to doing well in a race. Why you may ask? This is because the races are so much shorter then regular fleet racing. With a race that is only 15-18 minutes long, getting a good start is what can make or break your race. So now that you understand why its essential to get a good start, lets talk about ways to help you accomplish that.
First thing to help you accomplish a good start is making sure you have a watch. You want to have your crew get the starting sequence so you are aware of the time during the whole start. This may seem like a simple thing, however, this can be something sailors forget. They think with it just being a 3 minute start they can keep track. However, skippers you want to be able to have your crew counting down for you to make it easier to focus on getting that killer start.
When you get to your sailing venue you want to know the area conditions. Some questions to ask; Is there current that will effect you start? What is the breeze doing? Will it be shifty or puffy? Once you have a general idea of those things you want to figure out your initial game plan for the start. This starts with you determining the favored end of the line. To get the best start you obviously want to be first row at the favored end. However, in high school and college sailing it is very easy for boats to get stacked up at the favored end. If you are at the favored end, but second or third row nothing good can come from a start like that. Some sailors have it in their heads that they have to be at favored side, even if they are set up for a poor start. However, if you can get clear air a little farther down the line, you can get a better start helping you to be more successful in the race. This all goes along with figuring out your game plan for the start. Having a plan will make you more prepared for the race ahead of you. The plans may end of changing, but at least you are prepared from the beginning, leading us into the next tip for getting a good start anticipating things before they happen.
In a perfect world our game plan for the start would work every time, however that is not always the case. This brings us to our next tip making sure you anticipate things before they happen. You need to be aware of the boats around you and if someone may try to head you up at the start. You always want to be able to get out of a situation that may lead to getting a poor start or being over. Skippers this is where you need to be prepared in case you need to tack or gybe around quickly to get off the line and have a good start.
Having momentum at the start in high school and college sailing is another key component of a good start. If you have no speed you are likely to be rolled by the boats around you. This is where you and your crew need to work together with your weight and sail trim. Skippers you need to guide your crew as to when to trim their jibe and you may need them leaning to the leeward side depending on the wind conditions. You both need to be working together to get your boat at full speed when the gun goes off.
Recap of tips for a better start:
- Keeping track of time
- Know the area conditions
- Have a game plan
- Anticipate things before they happen
- Have momentum
Having a good start in high school and college sailing is essential for your success in the race. Unlike traditional fleet racing the races are a lot shorter. This makes it that much more important and can make or break your race. These simple, but important tips will help to improve your start in high school and college sailing.