Mar 12, 2020

Jill Fitz Hirschbold PhotographyBy Alex Fox

Photos by Jill Fitz Hirschbold Photography

Many articles speak to the challenges and strategies involved in achieving a good upwind start, however, they often begin with sheets eased or with spinnakers ready to hoist, so let’s dig into some of the considerations that come into play with these types of starts.

Top Ten list:

1) Lead back, for control: One of the first things that comes to mind here, is that leading the fleet to the line gives one more control. As the boat ahead, you can maneuver more freely, set the pace and adjust your own timing. The trailing boat, on the other hand, may be held up by the boats ahead, luffing up, getting in the way etc. A second point, I’d much rather be a little early and have to kill, than be late with no way to get there from here.

2) Formulate a plan: Downwind starts will often require a spinnaker hoist, so it’s important that the whole crew understands what the plan is. Here’s an example; “Plan is to start mid-line on port…approach a bit early with genoa…Turtle set up to starboard...may have to luff up a bit to kill…Let’s set the pole at 1 minute, preset guy…Likely hoist with five seconds to go…Make sure to jump the halyard…Everyone know their jobs?”

3) Know your rights: The basic right of way rules apply and it’s important to know when you’re the right away or give way vessel. Port/Starboard, Windward/Leeward, Overtaking/Clear ahead, these are the three criteria in this order. Eyes out of the boat, talking about potential coming togethers, making sure that a part of the conversation is about possible actions. Example; “After the hoist we’ll be on port...not sure that we’ll get across Raven...so, everyone be ready for a possible gybe.”

4) Bow Person: In the pre-start, especially once the genoa or jib is up, it’s really important to have a bow look out. The most important part of this, is to have good communication between the bow person and the helm. Hand signals are fine, but be sure to clarify what they mean. Either the bow man’s pointing at another boat or they’re pointing to the clear path. Verbalizing the information is always going to be good too. If you’re the bow person, make sure you understand what the helm is looking for.

5) Hoist or delay?: In a downwind start, there are arguments to be made for both, hoisting as soon as possible or delaying the hoist. The biggest benefit of hoisting asap, is of course increased speed, but on the cost side of the ledger, there might be a brief slow down period or reduced maneuverability. Make sure you’re not compromising your clear air or creating a risky right of way situation by hoisting too early.

Joy Ride at the Start6) Proper Headsail lead: In a reaching start, no spinnaker, make sure you’ve adjusted your genoa or jib lead outboard and forward. The upwind car position will not be right when cracked off on to a close or a beam reach. Barber hauling outboard will have a huge effect on boat speed when white sail reaching. General rule of thumb, for every inch outboard, the lead goes forward an inch. The idea is to maintain a parallel slot with the leach of the mainsail. The telltales on the genoa luff should break relatively evenly.

7) Favoured End: In upwind starts, the end of the line that’s further upwind is generally favored. Conversely, in a Downwind start, the end that’s furthest downwind should be favoured, right? Now that statement has a proviso, as in, clear air is always the top priority. Managing to achieve both would be pretty awesome, but favoured by wind direction, will sometimes take a back seat. Usually there’s a best compromise, which includes clear air and close to the favoured end.

8) Speed is King: Getting away from the fleet in a downwind start, will often be determined by who gets up to speed the soonest. Due to the time it may take to hoist, the requirements of dealing with traffic, or the fact that some will get involved in mini luffing battles, in effect slowing each other down, there’s a great opportunity for those who can get up to speed and extend away from the fleet. So, focus, don’t over-trim find the right angle, get the weight in the right place and sail fast!

9) Behind may bring advantage: If the wind is quite far aft at the start, this indeed gives some potential advantage to the trailing boat. Clear air, first and foremost, will provide the opportunity to sail at maximum speed, plus you’ll have the luxury of choice to point the bow where you want. Maybe that means positioning your wind shadow on the boat ahead or just hinting at it, so they sail all over, reacting and avoiding your dirt. Either way you’ve got control. A warning here, get to know your competition, and don’t mess with the Mad Luffer!

10) Line Density: The up side of starting away from the pack, may very well outweigh all other factors. Clear air, freedom to maneuver, less risk of altercation, less stress, these are the benefits. That sounds like a pretty good trade off to me. Just don’t give up too much distance to the fleet. So, the best solution, again, might be a compromise of starting away from the pack without giving up significant distance to the first mark or waypoint. Downwind starts, in my estimation, really add some flavour to the game. I hope these musings will constructively add to the conversation for you and your team.

See you out on the start line sometime soon.

Alex Fox is a winning Royal Victoria YC, Victoria BC racer and sailing specialist at Trotac Marine

Related Articles
Seamanship
  • 26 February 2020
  • By Ethan

Improve your docking skills

Improve your docking skills whether you are single-handing or have help, on a sailboat or a powerboat. Learn the theory and interaction of propellers, keels, and rudders and how to manage docking in...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

AXOPAR 37 XC

 

Axopar 37 XCWhole new ball game…

 

Set aside your assumptions and expectations for a few minutes while we try to describe the new Axopar 37 XC that made its American debut at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show. This boat represents a whole new ball game in terms of design, performance, seakeeping and functionality. In fact, I’d say it takes a ‘clean sheet of paper’ approach to boating – it’s that different.

Read More about the Axopar 37 XC..................

Destinations

  • Prev
On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced an updated opening schedule for the ...
If you have four hours to enjoy a fine tour of one of Canada’s most interesting waterways (let’s ...
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...

DolphinsBy the Canadian Yachting Editors


Canadians are blessed in many ways and especially when it comes to boating. We enjoy some the world’s most beautiful cruising waters and many places are as sheltered as they are scenic.

British Columbia and the Pacific North West plainly have the most breath-taking scenery with the combination of the majestic ocean views and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It’s like no place on earth when you have a Killer Whale breach beside your little fishing boat.

Read more about Canadian Cruising...........

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This interesting shot is one you will remember. It comes to POTW from our pal, photographer and ...
Unknown to us at the time, the quest for VIA-MARA started in 1973 when I saved the back cover of a ...
You will find that many of the yachts travelling up and down the BC Coast have Sea Kayaks on board. ...
The Council of British Columbia Yacht Clubs with over 50 yacht club members has become the voice of ...
Classic boat restoration expert and wooden boat builder Stan Hunter recently sent us this great ...
In Mid June, a floatplane plunged into Constance Bay on the Ottawa River after two planes collide ...
Winter is a fun time for sailmakers in Canada. We grind through mountains of repairs and have an ...
The seasoned sailor mapped out an ambitious course around the world — aboard his 28-foot ...
Clean wake: A concept amongst cruising sailors that stresses the impact that individual behaviour ...
This line-up of Beneteaus can to us from our friends at RCR Yachts in NY State where they are ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
The HO Excel Waterskis are your classic compression molded skis that are durable, but also have a ...
We all know that plastic and plastic waste is a huge issue globally. Driven by innovation and ...
Don't leave your toys at the dock this season. Wouldn’t it be great to take them with you? ...
Calder’s indispensable and thorough manual gives you detailed instructions for maintaining, ...
With hundreds of thousands of nautical miles under his keel, Kretschmer’s adventures have taken him ...
The Ronix Marsh Mellow Thrasher is a lightweight, 3 fin wakesurf board ideal for those wanting a ...
Color & Fabric Safe! Removes mold, mildew, algae stain, bird droppings, spider droppings, ...
This tough, fast acting cleaner removes heavy grease and oil, adhesives, glue, ink and marker, ...
Great for slippery trailer fenders, steps, and boat ladders SeaDek Step Kits are made from 5mm ...
FlexTred is a fast and easy way to prevent slip & fall accidents and is ideal for use on ...