5 Top Tips to Start Yacht Racing
If you’re thinking about getting into racing, but don’t know where to start, we’ve put together five of our top tips to get you to the starting line…
1) Learn the rules
Be sure to get at least a basic understanding of the rules of racing to help you feel more confident out on the water. A good place to start is ISAF’s The Racing Rules of Sailing – these are reviewed every four years by World Sailing and are free to download on their website.
You’ll also benefit from getting stuck into a couple of books on racing strategy and tactics. Popular choices include Getting Started in Sailboat Racing by Adam Cort and Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing by Dave Perry, but there are lots of options out there to help you build a solid foundation.
Of course, actually racing will help you improve your skills as a crew, but outside of these events, spending time practicing boat handling and sail trim is really valuable.
Try to get out in all winds, and run through race course scenarios until you all feel more comfortable and confident. Good items to cover include practising mark roundings using convenient buoys, shifting from upwind work to reaching and running, plus setting and dousing spinnakers.
3) Choose the right event
It may sound obvious, but choosing the right events will ensure your journey into racing is an enjoyable one.
Races and regattas come in all different shapes and sizes, from relaxed weekly club racing, to larger, longer distance races, and everything in between.
Check out your local sailing club’s website, and you may find the Yachts & Yachting event calendar useful to see what’s happening in your area.
Beyond the technical aspects of racing, communication on the boat is key if you want to create an enjoyable environment for all the crew.
Remember, mistakes happen to even the most experienced racers, so as a skipper be sure to remain calm and motivate your team, with appropriate and timely review of issues or errors.
Create an upbeat, positive and supportive atmosphere and you’ll find you have a committed and loyal crew on your side, plus you’ll have much more fun on the water!
5) Understand handicaps
Sailing handicaps exist within individual sailing clubs, nationally and internationally. They’re a way to allow different types of boat to compete on an equal playing field.
Calculations are carried out to determine the true positions of each vessel in the race, using their handicap. Again, the sailing.org website is a great resource if you want to find out more about handicaps and how to calculate yours.
So there you have it – 5 top tips to start yacht racing this year. If you’re based in the Plymouth area and are keen to give racing a go, why not consider berthing your boat at King Point Marina?
Our spacious marina offers a sheltered base with easy access to some of the best sailing waters in the South West. Get in touch with the team if you would like to find out more.