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Starting in a Big Fleet

Obviously the most important part of the race is the start because this determines your race strategy, especially on the first beat. The priority is to get clear air, have good speed and most importantly, go the right way up the first beat. If you get it all right the chances of a good position around the first first mark are greatly increased making the rest of the race a lot easier. You should try an work the hardest for the first 100 metres in an effort to get clear of all the boats around you. In light winds this means concentrating extra hard, in the strong winds it means really working the boat hard.

Starting Points to Remember:

  • Get there early.
  • Check wind and tide.
  • Check start bias.
  • Take a starboard and a port tack from line, check transit, watch for shifts of line after you have taken the transit.
  • Decide where on the line to start (consider wind shifts, tide, other boats).
  • Be prepared to protect your water during the final two minutes.
  • Especially if in the middle of the line check your transit (generally there is a large sag).
  • Do NOT end up on the second or third row.
  • Clear air is more important than being at the favoured end but in the second or third row (the bias is generally small).
  • If over the line 3-5 seconds before the start (especially at the port end) be prepared to bail quick and dip boats to get to clear air.
  • Never start to windward of a boat you know points higher or to leeward of a boat you know is faster.
  • Try and sheet on with about seven seconds to go otherwise it is often difficult to get clear air.
  • It is usually better to start just to leeward of the bunch as this reduces the level of risk in getting a good start.
  • Don't get caught too close to the pin - it is better to get a safe start then no start at all.
  • Remember that if you get buried at the pin end of the start you must dip a lot of sterns to get clear air.
  • Defend your space on the line HARD!!!

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