What I know about racing and regatta sailing has been learned almost exclusively from two sources: good books and a tremendous number of mistakes. Of these two possibilities, I can heartily recommend learning from books, magazines and the World Wide Web – particularly if it means avoiding some of the mistakes.
It is simply less costly and time consuming to read about other sailors mistakes, than to do them all by yourselves. Believe me – I am still working on my mistakes.
Handling, speed and tactics
The pyramid of racing is built on boat handling and boat speed. There is hardly any books that will help you much with practical boat-handling. How your boat handles must basically be learned by using the boat – while the task of getting the boat on the fast-track is more a question of understanding the basics of sailing and sail-trim.
The upper part of the racing pyramid is sailing and racing tactics. If you are really really good at boat-handling and boat-speed – you don’t have to worry much about racing tactics – in this case you are in lead of the pack and can set the rules. However, most of us has a lot to learn from the top sailors regarding sail-trim and boat speed. Besides – some basic tactics is smart to to learn to handle starts and in my case handicap sailing. Since yacht “Salt” is not top-rated – no matter how well we sail her, there will be other boats with higher handicap that will out-sail us. Sometimes we are out-sailed by sailors in yachts with a lesser handicap, which is much more annoying.
The best book I know so far when it comes to sail-trim is Billy Gladstone at the North U. Performance Racing Seminars. The book is called “Performance Racing Trim” and claims to be “the world’s most comprehensive resource on boat-speed and boat-handling”. I don’t know about that , but I have read it and used it for years. It has not made us win races much more, but Billy Gladstone sure gives me ideas and understanding of how to become a better racer. I you are in luck there will be a seminar on racing based on Gladstone in driving distance from you boat. The seminar is performed by sailors and sail-makers from the loft of North Sails.
Gladstone is also the author of the book “Performance Racing Tactics”. So when you have spent considerable time consuming the book on sail-trim it’s time to get into tactics. I have read it sever times and used it for years. It does not help me much in winning races – I suspect I build more of the racing on my own mistakes and habits, than from books and theory. But I am convinced that if I can learn to use the theory and base my decisions during a race on the tactical understanding and theory, I will perform better. Besides – it is a good read!
Free knowledge – a golden treasure
If you don’t want to spend money on learning the tricks of the trade both Gran Sails and UK-Sails have made their own small sail-trim and sail-understanding booklet. The booklets are not in the same league as the North U, however they are free, which helps much.
The following are links to full length racing and regatta articles on the Web:
- The Start:
- Getting good starts: part one, and part two, by Zack Leonard
- Trimming and re-trimming during races:
- Shifting Gears Upwind, by Rich Bowen
- Shifting Gears in Light and Variable winds, by Rich Bowen
- Surviving in Light Air, by Dan Neri
- Genoa and Jib trimming:
- Headsail trimming basics, by Rich Bowen
- Spinnaker trim:
- Spinnaker trim, by rich Bowen
- Setting the pole height on your spinnaker, by Dave Campaniello
- Mainsail trim:
- Mainsail Controls for Performance, part one, part two, by Dan Dickison
- Basic mainsails trim for racers, part one, part two, by Pete Colby
- Downwind performance:
- Basic downwind performance (trimming and tactics), part one, part two, part three, by Zack Leonard
- Around the cans:
- Making Mark Roundings work for you, by Dan Dickison
- Jibe set, by Dean Brenner
- Rules quiz, a full sett of online animated quiz from UK Sails. It’s like a game and hard to stop.
I will continue harnessing articles from free sources. If you have any leads, please share them with the Hot Shot Kaskelot lot by leaving a comment.
Good night, good luck and a nice fireside sail for you!