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Crew Info

Sailing Basics

Here are some things you should know about before joining a race:

Racing Basics

Here’s how a typical race night goes:

  • We meet at the boat at about 5:30 on race night.  Some crew can’t get there until later, that’s okay — we leave the dock at 6:00 pm sharp.
  • Before we leave, we get the boat ready (remove covers, get the sails ready, stow things down below)
  • Once we leave the dock, we hoist the sails and fine tune some adjustments to match the conditions, then we sail over to the committee boat (usually at mark 14, but sometimes somewhere else on the bay)
  • We sail by the committee boat and check in for the race, note down the course, make a few measurements (wind direction, how long it takes to sail along the start line), and then we get out of the way.
  • The course is designated by a series of numbers on the committee boat, that indicate which marks to sail around (and in what order).  If there are two sets of numbers, ours are the lower set.
  • Since PERSPECTIVE is among the fastest boats on the bay, we are in the last fleet to start, so we get a chance to watch other fleets starting and make our plan based on what we like
  • When the fleet before us starts, its time to get focused.  Here’s an explanation of the flags, signals and timing at the start of a race
  • And here is a map of the race marks

Race Mark Locations

Contributing to a Crew

Racing on PERSPECTIVE is about having fun, putting the days stressors behind us and challenging ourselves to keep learning.  Here’s a great article that stresses the most important things about crewing:  bring a great attitude, pitch in before and after the race, know your position, do your job and let other people do theirs.  The rest will come with experience.

How to be a great crew member – Sailing Magazine

Crew Positions

Know your positions? Yes, on board each person has a specific job to do during each phase of a race. Here’s a diagram showing the positions we’ll use in 2016.  The blue circle is approximately where they sit when we are heading upwind.

Crew Positions

But there is more to racing than sitting in the right circle!  Here’s a step by step breakdown of what each person does during each leg of the race, and each maneuver:

  • Starting
  • Sailing upwind
  • Tacking (check out this article from Sailing World)
  • Round the windward mark and hoisting the spinnaker
  • Sailing downwind
  • Jibing
  • Dousing the spinnaker

Some of the maneuvers are simple, others are a finely choreographed dance! It’s all spelled out in detail in the Crewbook:  View the CrewBook on Google Sheets

And you don’t have to master all of this before enjoying a race.  We learn as we go, and there are plenty of experienced hands on board who can coach you along.

So how do we win?

Winning a race takes four things:

  • A good start — this is all about timing. speed, and jostling for position as the whole fleet accelerates over the start line.
  • Boat Speed — this is all about rig tuning and sail trim.  Half of it happens before leaving the dock, and the rest is continuous adjustment while sailing.
  • Crisp maneuvers — this is about losing the least amount of speed when tacking, and getting the spinnaker up, around and down in the least time.
  • Tactics and Strategy — this is about sailing a smart race, getting into the best wind, sailing at the right angles, and using the rules to our advantage.

But we are still learning, and up against the fastest boats on the bay, who have way more experience than we do.  So how do we win?  By celebrating and enjoying the entire experience!