Hi and welcome to Race to win, the weekly podcast where we discuss racing strategies, tactics, and more.
I’m Julia and today we are going to be discussing my favorite starting strategy, the port tack approach. Now this isn’t one you should be trying out if you are a gutless wimp. It’s a great start, but you will need to put on your big girl pants when you scoot across half your fleet on port tack!
As always, you see here the raceQs starting box, with the green pacer line showing the correct pace for an on-time start. The green box starts shrinking at one minute to the gun, and when the pacer line meets the start line, that’s the start. It makes it really easy to evaluate how good everyone was at judgin their time and distance to the start. This replay is from the 2014 Melges Worlds, so a lot of these guys are professional sailors. They almost have a sixth sense about when they need to slow down, or speed up, in order to be on time to the start with good speed.
A lot of sailors view this is as sort of a desperate move. And it is certainly one to keep in you back pocket if you end up in a bad position. But, in a large fleet, it can be your best shot at finding clear air.
In the book “Getting in Started in Sailboat Racing “ the authors give an example of the Chicago NOOD’s, with literally thousands of foot long starting line, there were still holes that people could have used if they had the right approach. . The point is, if you have the right tactic, you can still get a good start, even in a crowded fleet.
Start by reaching away on Starboard tack with about three minutes left to the start. Make sure to turn around in plenty of time to tack, sail along the line a bit, and then tack again for the line. So, let’s say you head back at about 1:50 to the start. Carefully , carefully now, put on your big girl pants and ppick your way across the fleet. PAY ATTENTION to those boats barreling down at you from the low side, they are on starboard tack and have ride of way.
So duck and dodge everyone, all the while using your well honed sense to get a look at the big picture. Or, if your senses aren’t so great, get a crew member to look at the big picture, and search for a hole to windward. When all of a sudden, you see a clear lane to the start line, don’t hesitate! Sail to the far windward edge of the hole, Tack, and take it. Breathe a sigh of relief too because now you are on starboard tack, and lured to all the boat’s above you.
Let’s watch this guy execute a beautiful port tack approach.
Well, that’s all for today guys. I’m off to race a Hobie Cat in a lovely tropical Sunday race on Guam, tune in for a new podcast next Friday!
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