Our Club Series is the best way to prepare yourself for the upcoming season of island racing into the Indonesian Archipelago and that is pretty much the sole reason for all our training. We like to emphasize casual racing as a great place to start your preparations. It’s not about the position you will get, it's about the training you will gain. Every time we’ve organised a coastal sailing event the boats which race regularly have no problem in dealing with the changing weather patterns along the way but those crews that never compete really struggle when conditions get outside of their ‘norms”. The short course training makes baots focus on being more organised and as a result, become way more organised. Now the whole idea about having a boat is, going places! So get organside, become competent and then you can really enjoy the Corsair platform to the max.
Getting into racing most people assume that it’s simply about speed. Actually it’s not and in a lot of cases the ‘fastest’ boat doesn’t always win. There’s more than meets the eye!
For starters, the start. This is 60% of the race! If you start behind, chances are you aren’t going to catch up!
Then the body of the race, this is where poor choices will hamper the end result. In this section you need to be able to,
Sail an accurate course
Sail to the correct (favoured) side of the course
Make good tacks and gybes
At the finish, you need to finish at the correct position on the finish line. On most courses there is a bias to the start and finish line. You need to understand where to finish.
Understand the bias on the Start Line. Most cases the line is not square to the wind so there will be a favoured place to be and a favoured tack to be on. Once you have figured those out, there will be a gaggle of boats fighting for this position.
The most important thing at the start is being on the line when the gun goes off. Try to ensure you are at maximum boat speed moment before the start as this gives you a good kickstarter. The best thing is to have clear air around you that is, not many boats above/below you to interfere with your wind.
Your initial focus should be to be on the line, at speed when the gun goes off. Once you’re competent you can then start to focus on getting into a better position on the line.
Getting a good start means preparing well ahead of time.
Be early, prepare the sails, get sailing on the water much earlier than race time.
Sail along the line from the Committee End to the Pin End.
Sail from the Pin back to the Committee End.
Take a time so that you know how ‘long’ the Line is.
Do that multiple times
Take a transit of each end of the line.
Sailing up and down the Line will give you a good feel for where the Line is and the Transits will allow you to see the Line when you make your final approach.
Once you have a handle on that, move to a ‘fixed point’ and do a timed run from that point to the line. Do this multiple times until you have a good feel for that.
Where we sail, this is a relatively easy process as our start line is in the middle of the mooring area and so picking a ‘fixed point’ is easy, there’s many moored boats to choose from!
Your initial goal will be to get around the course and finish!
Each leg of the course have its favoured tack to be on.
Reaching legs, these are relatively easy as it’s generally boat speed between two points. Where people really come adrift is going directly upwind. The Beat is where most beginners get left behind.
If we sail from a downwind mark to an upwind mark it will require a few tacks. There will be a favoured side of the course to be on. Sail to the unfavoured side and it’s a sure way to fall back in the fleet.
Factors such as wind and tide can affect which side is favoured/unfavoured.
For us here in Singapore, often the tide is stronger than the breeze so our initial element is knowing what the tide is doing for the day and understanding the current (tidal stream around us between 1-6 knots).
Your first dozen times, you will get this wrong, everyone has!
Once you’ve understood the tide the next element to build on top of that is the wind and its bearing on the course you are on. Going from ‘B’ to and upwind mark ‘A’ the wind is often biased to one side and in our case, it is never ‘square’ to the course.
If the wind is angled more to the left side of the course, port tack will be favoured.
If the wind is angled more to the right side of the course, starboard will be favoured.
You need to get to,
Do the unfavoured tack first then
Get to the favoured tack as soon as possible.
Spend the minimum time possible on the unfavoured leg and maximum time on the favoured leg.
If port tack was the ‘favoured tack’ upwind then going downwind it will be the opposite tack. So before you get to ‘A’ mark, you should be able to figure out the favoured leg for going downwind and then, that allows you to decide what sail you will use to to from ‘A’ to ‘B’.
The wind is seldom constant and certainly not constant here on the Equator.
There are two types of shifts.
Consider sailing upwind from ‘B’ mark to ‘A’ mark directly upwind.
A Lift is a favourable windshift that ‘lifts’ us up towards ‘A’ mark this is favourable as it shortens the sailing distance. So if we were sailing upwind on a port tack for instance, the windshift would move aft from the bow more towards the rear port side of the boat.
Steering. If you were to keep the telltales flowing, you will need to be pointing up to compensate for the change in angle.
A Header is just the opposite. The wind shifts to an angle more ahead of the boat. This is easier for beginner to spot as it has the same characteristics as luffing.
Steering. To compensate for the change in angle, you will need to bear away.
Windshifts are hard things to spot for beginners as they generally have a hard time steering a true course to begin with so for now be aware that there are things called Lifts and Headers. At Once you learn to recognise them, these things will help you take ‘short cuts’ around the track.
A note on tide
We sail in an area with strong tides, not extreme but strong enough!
This is your primary concern before heading out. Check the tide chart and understand which way the currents run. Figure out which side of the current you need to be on for each leg of the course.
The biggest tip, the current will change on the edges before it will in the middle of the channel!