by Oli Tweddell (Australia Finn Sailor and ex-Opti sailor)
It is often thought that the race begins when the gun goes, this however is not the case, as sailors are preparing for events months and even years in advance, for today we are going to assume all the necessary preparation has occurred and we are on Race Day 1 at Nationals.
Prior to you even going down to the boat park you need to check out a weather forecast, to give you a rough idea of what is predicted for the day, but also to help you make correct setting decisions for your boat and to chose the appropriate clothing.
Once you have rigged your boat and gotten changed, before you hit the water you need to do an onshore warm up. Doing this warm-up will help prevent you from picking up any injuries, and will help get you prepared for what is to come! It is always important to launch with enough time for you to get to the race area on time for the start and a good 25 mins before the gun so you can start collecting data. A general rule of thumb is that you should launch no later than 1 hour before the scheduled start time.
Once you are out at the race area with about 25-30minutes before the start it is a good idea to start collecting data (Wind direction/strength, Tide direction/strength, Potential Land effects, Potential Cloud effects etc..)
A few good exercises you can do to help collect data before the start are;
- Some 2 boat tuning- Basically you and another boat line up and test out your speed against each other, this way you will know whether you are on pace and whether you are set up appropriately for the conditions.
- Split tacks- Generally you start off near the middle of the line, and one boat sails on port for a certain period of time (generally 4-5mins) while the other boat sails on starboard, then you both tack over and see which boat crosses in front. You then have a chat about it while on the way back to the start to decide what influenced the split tack, (pressure, tide, direction etc…)
- Constantly take wind readings every 3-4 mins to get an idea as to the stability of the wind direction
- If you pass any marks on the way out to the course have a look for tide and work out how this will influence you on the course
- Collect Transits and Safety Transits as well as Line Bias
- Constantly keep your head out of the boat for anything that may have an influence on your course.
- You can take compass numbers so you can tell if you are high or low on each tack
Hopefully you would have heard of most of those exercises before, but it is definitely vital that you carry them out before any race to help give you as much information as possible to help make your vital decisions for the racing! Have a great week of sailing!!!