In nearly every corner of the sailing world, the weekly club racing scene provides so many ways to enhance your sailing life. I have a great “sailing team” that exclusively races on the club nights. It consists of friends that I grew up with in Jr. Sailing all the way through to more recent acquaintances that showed an interest and wanted to go for a ride.
Our team likes to play hard. The cooler is always full and usually someone brings a nice snack to tie our hard-working sailors over until we can get to the club afterglow. We enjoy a beverage or two and some snacks as we make our way to the racecourse. This allows us all to catch up with each other and share stories of the prior week, while getting ready for the night’s racing.
My team has had really good success the past few years as we balance the fun with the competitive side of sailing. Never does one cross over too much into the other. It is a great balance and that comes from having the right attitude and boat culture. We often remind each other of how nice it is to be out and how challenging it is to race against our competitors.
On the performance side, there’s a lot that we attend to pre-season. First, we make sure that the boat is ready. Everything from the sail inventory to the electronics and engine maintenance. We have a nice balance of expertise and willingness to learn and take care of the equipment. Smooth bottom tuned rig and systems that make sailing easy and fun.
On any given night, once the sails go up, we are in race mode. Focused, but not so intense that we lose the meaning of why we are out. We like to switch up positions on board when we can, knowing everyone’s comfort level. By mixing things up, people learn and grow their expertise in sailing. Having a few on-board coaches certainly helps as we can keep an occasional eye on things to ensure there aren’t too many foul ups.
Like most venues, we have fixed marks. This makes having a “perfect” course nearly impossible, but that’s what I feel adds to the excitement and challenge of club racing. We typically do a 10-mile triangle of sorts, starting at the same mark every week. Downwind starts, lopsided beats and reaches that sometimes require a sail change all add to the fun.
When we start, we have a good understanding and dialog as to what we are going to expect on each leg. As we sail the racecourse and monitor the wind, we tweak our plans for sails, angles, and approach accordingly. Communication is the key. Communication in advance is paramount. It helps keep things fun and the errors low.
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