Friday, August 4, 2017

Article #6- 4 Tips for Getting Started in Racing

photo by Skip Brown

Everyone knows that any two boats on the same body of water are racing.  They might have different finish lines in mind, but it helps everyone stay focused and have fun when there’s friendly competition out there with you.  Racing can be a lifelong obsession, a fun diversion, or in some cases a hobby that brings out the worst in someone.  These tips can make sure you have the right attitude and expectations.

  1. Crew on Someone Else’s Boat- The best way to gain experience is as a crew member.  It is much easier to learn what is happening on the race course when you are not steering.  The whole race slows down, you can see situations developing, and think about how you will react when you’re at the helm.  You also have the chance to make some friends and meet potential crew members for the future.  
  2. Know the Rules- Sailing is a self policing sport.  There are almost never officials on the water as referees, and those are only at the very highest levels of competition.  You should not be on the racecourse unless you have a strong grasp of at least the basic rules.  Port/Starboard, windward/leeward, and knowing how they apply at a starting line and rounding marks are absolutely crucial.    
  3. Pick the Right Race- Most areas have different levels of racing in a small area.  There may be very serious weekend races and relaxed “Beer Can” races on weekday nights.  Some fleets are cutthroat and aggressive, while others can be welcoming and helpful to new sailors.  Get to know your area and what races will be best for your experience level.  
  4. Get Out There- The best way to gain experience is to be out there every chance you get.  You’ll make good calls and bad calls, but you can learn from every one of them.  Remember that many of your competitors have been out there for 5, 10, or 20 years on the same water.  You can start to catch up with their experience, but you probably have a long way to go.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and that usually isn’t at the front of the fleet.  Steady improvement should be your goal, no matter where you start.

As always, these are quick suggestions.  I am available to answer questions any time and go into much greater detail.  The next article is going to be a questions and answer version.  Please contact me with your questions.  

Rob Harring