Dave Perry's Top Ten Racing Tips - The Great Escape
So that perfect start didn’t work out so perfectly. No worries... Fortunately, they give the scores out at the finishing line. There are still plenty of opportunities to climb back into the race. Here are some tactical tips for recovering from a bad start.
by Dave Perry, author of Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012, 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes 2009-2012, and Winning One Designs offers up these racing tips. Thank you to US SAILING for sharing them with us.
In most situations, you know if your start is going to be good or not by the final minute before the gun. The sooner you can realize you aren’t going to break on through to the front row; the sooner you can tack and head for the right, while looking for a better hole or a lane on port tack in clear air. Remember, no one can go anywhere before the gun, so use all the time before the gun to find a better position.
Clear Air = Fast
You need clear air as soon as possible. Usually the majority of the fleet stays on starboard tack for the first few minutes after the gun, so normally your best road to clear air is on port tack heading to the right.
Duck to Escape
If you are on port tack heading right in search of clear air, avoid the temptation to leebow a starboard tacker! Unless you will be tacking into a clear air lane that you can hold for at least a minute, the tack to starboard is normally more costly than ducking the starboard tacker. Remember, if there is a port tack boat overlapped to leeward of you that is about to duck a starboard tack boat, she has to give you room to duck as well (see rule 19.2(b)).
Get Back to Your Game Plan as Quickly as Possible
If your original game plan was to go left, you are looking to tack onto starboard as soon as you can be reasonably sure you will have clear air for several minutes. If you originally wanted to go right and are doing so on port tack, great! If it is a shifty day, get onto the lifted tack as quickly as possible, even if it means sailing in some slightly disturbed air or water.