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Starting races
Team McLube



Apr 9, 2012, 6:34 PM

Post #1 of 1 (8154 views)
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I've been dinghy racing for years, but I have never been any good at starts. I never came through the junior sailing programs like most people I race against did (they get heaps of coaching etc) so I have never been taught how to start & tend to just make it up as I go along, which usually fails epically.

We are getting a great deal more competative in the fleet now and it is frustrating that our starts are letting us down so much.

In my country, unless we choose to sail an olympic class or olympic-feeder class, we get no coaching or assistance what-so-ever. I have asked other sailors that I race against, but they just say I need to get up onto the line & then I'll be fine.

I know all the basics - picking the favoured end of the line, stopping/slowing my boat etc. What I have a problem with is how to actually get a good start when other boats always push me over the start line or into the start-boat/barging buoy.

Eg, people tell me that if the boat-end is favoured, I need to start right on the start-boat, however, I end up hitting the start-boat because the boat to leeward of me squeezes me out.

Also, because our fleet sizes are not massive, we often end up on mixed-fleet startlines and I have trouble with this when some of the boats are so much faster than me.

Everything I try always goes wrong, to the extent that I've basically given up on getting a front-row start now, so I tend to hang back and follow everyone else across the line (usually in all of their dirty air).

Last time I tried to do an aggressive front-row start I ended up with a skiff-bowsprit literally in the back of my boat with them screaming profanities at me to get out of their way and tack and when I did they still hit me, then accelerated off and left me wallowing in their dirty air. Btw, yes I did protest them, but it still doesn't help with my confidence when stuff like that happens when I try for a good start. Am I really meant to be that aggressive on the start? I mean, there was no-where I could go to keep clear, but am I meant to just force people into the path of an on-coming boat anyway? That doesn't feel right to me, and frankly I think it's dangerous to force somone into a head-on collision with a faster (and right-of-way) boat coming the other way.

It's getting to the stage when I'm ready to give up racing because of it - I've read books, I've asked everyone I can think of etc and I'm just not getting any better because I don't know what I'm doing wrong. No-one else in the fleet gets pushed into the start-boat or over the line every single time (of course it happens occasionally but it happens to me every time). I think it's important to obey the rules when racing, and it doesn't feel right to me that seemingly I have to just ignore the rules, ram people, stuff up everyone elses start and scream profanities & intimidation at everyone else just to get myself a good start. Surely it shouldn't be like that?

Please help!

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