Do you race your cruiser?

ben_m

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In PBO's summer issue we'd like to feature some sailors from around the country who race their cruisers on a low-key, wednesday evening type racing. Do you have any tips for beginners? Why do you do it? No tip too small...
 

Ex-SolentBoy

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In PBO's summer issue we'd like to feature some sailors from around the country who race their cruisers on a low-key, wednesday evening type racing. Do you have any tips for beginners? Why do you do it? No tip too small...

We raced our Rustler 36 occasionally in club evening races. Here are my thoughts.

1. Do not try to understand the handicap system when you first start. Just do your best and enjoy it.
2. Assuming you are not the fastest boat, it is worthwhile finding a boat similar, but a little faster to your own and following him around.
3. The starting timing and procedure can be quite stressful for cruisers who are not used to it. Until you are I would recommend getting an experienced racer to helm for your first few starts or hang back and cross the line a short while after the more experienced boats. Waiting an extra 20 seconds is going to keep you out of the melee and will make almost no difference to your results.
4. Offer to crew for someone else at least once before you take your own boat into a race. local customs and practices are not always obvious. I once gained 100m on another boat by cutting inside a certain buoy that was not part of the course. Unfortunatley we were disqualified as it was an unwritten rule to not do so!

There are several reasons for getting involved.

1. It can really help your boat handling under sail. Timing a turn around a bouy with the tide rushing past it is not easy and is not something most cruising sailors bother with.
2. It adds a new dimension to boat ownership. Perhaps there is less point in going out for 2 hour cruise than a 2 hour race, so you get additional enjoyment for your investment.
3. Paying constant attention to boat speed is not something most cruising sailors do. By changing your sailing emphasis you learn how to easily get more performance when cruising. Sometimes you don't need more speed, but at least you know how to get it when you really do need it.
 

Georgio

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In PBO's summer issue we'd like to feature some sailors from around the country who race their cruisers on a low-key, wednesday evening type racing. Do you have any tips for beginners? Why do you do it? No tip too small...

Here is a tip, be careful where it may lead.

I started with Portsmouth sailing club spring and autumn series in their "club handicap" class, a few years on from this I will find myself on the starting line for the AZAB2011 in about 10 days. Eeek!

Top tip 1 - If you have never raced before is to do some racing initially on someone else’s boat and you will soon pick up how starting sequences work and how courses are set.

Top tip 2 - As much as it may be tempting don't bother buying brand new sails if you have never raced, do a season with your old sails and get the teamwork up together and then reward the boat and crew by investing in new "engines" when it will really make a difference. Also once you have raced a bit you will have a better idea of what new sails to get in order to make the most difference.

Top tip 3 – Try to set up practice sessions with a boat of the same type as this will allow much better boat-on-boat tuning that is impossible to do in a mixed fleet.
 
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No Thanks - Dont Want To Anymore

..... 1. It can really help your boat handling under sail. Timing a turn around a bouy with the tide rushing past it is not easy and is not something most cruising sailors bother with.
2. It adds a new dimension to boat ownership. Perhaps there is less point in going out for 2 hour cruise than a 2 hour race, so you get additional enjoyment for your investment.
3. Paying constant attention to boat speed is not something most cruising sailors do. By changing your sailing emphasis you learn how to easily get more performance when cruising. Sometimes you don't need more speed, but at least you know how to get it when you really do need it.

Personally I dont see why many bother to race their cruisers, for example: -

1. A lot of racing sailors cant judge how to sail in close quarters and mess up tack lines and mark rounding because they simply fail to understand the basics of sailing and how a yacht behaves under the influence of wind and tide.
2. It completely ruins a good 2 hour sail in the evening because the friendly competitiveness always causes artery hardening frustration.
3. It leaves me gob smacked how the same racers every year fail to understand that they actually have not got a clue how to set sails or balance boats properly. If I had a pound for every weed, rough bottom, hull moisture, old sails excuse, I could easily afford a Rocna anchor.

There is nothing more satisfying than messing about in boats, especially when one overtakes, with the wind vane engaged, those desperately racing.
 

FullCircle

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Thankfully the organisers have recognised that White Sails 'racing' needs to exclude racing boats with Carbon Fibre sails who are just pot hunting.
hence the Fast and Family Cruisers (usually Classes 5 & 6)
Don't bother taking all the weight off just for one weekends racing a year. Ain't worth it.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially the Skipper. Don't allow it to ruin your day.
Don't be bullied at the marks. Remember IRPCS over rules any racing rules.
But avoid getting into scraps where the other idiot proves how close he can get to colliding.
Ignore anyone who shouts out 'We're Racing!' . You dont need to know him, or meet him in the bar where he will be loudly giving reasons for him not being a race winner that day. or any other day either.
I would rather come last on a good days sail, than first on a bad one.
 

flaming

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Don't be bullied at the marks. Remember IRPCS over rules any racing rules.

Dangerous, and incorrect, advice. If both boats are racing the RRS apply between those boats - even if they are not in the same race. The IRPCS DO NOT trump the RRS between two racing boats.
 

Tom Price

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Why race?

Like Georgio I ended up racing round the cans in Spithead on Saturdays, then Hayling Bay on Sundays. But before that came years of club passage racing - it's an excellent apprenticeship, so much easier than bashing round the buoys.

The ultimate PR is the RTI of course - NOT as daunting as may appear: get round without hitting anyone, finish on the right line, you get a result AND a tankard!

After a few of those you will improve boathandling skills, get better sails (better crew even!) and start to take it seriously - IF you have a competitive urge that is.

If not you will at least know how to make your boat go faster!
 

peteK

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In PBO's summer issue we'd like to feature some sailors from around the country who race their cruisers on a low-key, wednesday evening type racing. Do you have any tips for beginners? Why do you do it? No tip too small...
My insurance doesnt cover me for racing not that I would want to any way.Most policies are the same,unless you specificly insure for it.
 

FullCircle

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Dangerous, and incorrect, advice. If both boats are racing the RRS apply between those boats - even if they are not in the same race. The IRPCS DO NOT trump the RRS between two racing boats.

Ed, you are of course correct. Aberration on my part.
 

FullCircle

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My insurance doesnt cover me for racing not that I would want to any way.Most policies are the same,unless you specificly insure for it.

Most insurance companies will not charge extra if you phone them and ask for a single local handicap race cover, or a weekend. I always do this to enter Burnham Week for a day or three.
 

smth448

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Make sure you have a regular crew so you can develop teamwork. Plenty of practice so that manouevres become second nature. Talk through each manoevre first until you are practised at it. Then you should just be able to say NOW! and it happens as if by a well oiled machine.
Do not rush out and buy the best sails etc before you are certain that you ar egetting the best out of what you have.
Give yourself enough time to complete each manoeuvre. Leave things to the last moment may save you a couple of seconds but increases the scope for a major foul up.
Learn the racing rules so you know what you can and can't do.
If you get hooked be prepared to make yourself destitute. It is an expensive way to spend a couple of hours.
Only shout to be heard. As I found out to my own cost a crew that is shouted at generally does not come again.
 

BAtoo

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HPYC on the Orwell - Wednesday Lightships series about to begin (Weds evenings in June). No spinnakers, fast & slow start. Up to 25 boats out. Aim for 2hrs max. Great fun. Proper racers (IRC/carbon sails etc) are discouraged/handicapped out of it.

Why do it?

Improves boat handling skills. Makes you think about how to make your boat sail better. Maybe leads onto more club racing if you enjoy it. More social - great for non-sailing friends/kids etc. Wide variety of boats enter (Squib to 40ft+ cruisers)
 

Athene V30

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In PBO's summer issue we'd like to feature some sailors from around the country who race their cruisers on a low-key, wednesday evening type racing. Do you have any tips for beginners? Why do you do it? No tip too small...

No plans for round the cans, however I do have a singlehanded hankering for the Jester Azores in 2012.
 

gardenshed

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Personally I dont see why many bother to race their cruisers, for example: -

1. A lot of racing sailors cant judge how to sail in close quarters and mess up tack lines and mark rounding because they simply fail to understand the basics of sailing and how a yacht behaves under the influence of wind and tide.
2. It completely ruins a good 2 hour sail in the evening because the friendly competitiveness always causes artery hardening frustration.
3. It leaves me gob smacked how the same racers every year fail to understand that they actually have not got a clue how to set sails or balance boats properly. If I had a pound for every weed, rough bottom, hull moisture, old sails excuse, I could easily afford a Rocna anchor.

There is nothing more satisfying than messing about in boats, especially when one overtakes, with the wind vane engaged, those desperately racing.

I'm curious why you'd make such negative and discouraging comments. quite odd for someone who clearly gets great satisfaction from sailing and usually contributes positively to questions from others.

The same comments that you make can be applied to non racing sailors and racing is a great way to learn
how to better judge close quarters handling
how to balance/get the best out of your boat etc.

An evening race and some camaraderie afterwards is a terrific way to spend an evening, as is a quiet solo sail or cruise.

I leaves me gobsmacked the number of times racing an cruising that I come across a boat that isnt' being sailed to its potential, but I dont' judge those on board. They are on the water enjoying themselves, that's the most important thing.

The great thing about racing is that it encourages you to go out more frequently and to pay more attention to the details that make your boat sail better. It also encourages more discipline to maintain your boat including review of your safety equipment.

My tips for beginners:
Enter, learn the rules and then talk to those that you are racing against. You'll notice some folk who just seem to get more out of their boat that everyone else often without the fancy sails and matching crew gear. Seek them out and quiz them or ask if you can crew occasionally to get a different view point

Try to look ahead and anticipate what others may do, not just your own planning/manoevers and be prepared to duck/avoid others not enforce what you think may be your "rights". Be aware that others will expect you to sail consistently and make decisive moves, try to make your intentions clear to others

Ask the dumb questions and advice from your competitors and the race officer: you don't have to accept it!

Finally, ignore those that mock what you propose doing and only want to tell you about their superior approach to sailing and their abilities
 
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In PBO's summer issue we'd like to feature some sailors from around the country who race their cruisers on a low-key, wednesday evening type racing. Do you have any tips for beginners? Why do you do it? No tip too small...

Yes. I started racing my boat in the Bristol channel under PY handicap some 4 years ago. We race in winter only since my crew all have their own boats which they cruise in summer. It's great fun and I have no doubt that it's much the best way to really learn to sail your boat well.

Tips for beginners:

1/ dont even try in your first couple of races. Hang back to see how the starts go, and follow other boats round the course to see how they handle the marks.
2/ do learn the few basic rules of racing - you need to know what to do when someone is shouting for mark room.
3/ the most important part of racing is crew management. Try and keep a constant crew if possible and make sure everyone knows their job. Dont try and be both helm and skipper - if you do, you will do both badly
4/ Prepare the boat. If racing under PY handicap then the handicap will adjust over a series to compensate for a boat that is still full of rubbish. If using a fixed handicap, then empty the boat of really heavy items like water. Mark the genny track so you know where the genny sliders go. Get the spinny packed if you are using one.
5/ Prepare on the course. Sail the start line. Note how close ( degrees true) you can sail to the wind on each tack. Adjust the sail controls for optimum. Do all this well before the race starts.
6/ Make notes after each race of things like sail settings, pointing ability, wind speed, boat speeds etc.
7/ Try and cadge a few rides with the really good boats at the front of the fleet.
8/ Unless you end up in a serious racing fleet, leave the protest flag at home. Racing is a social activity, not war.

P.S. It need not be expensive. As already said, we race all winter irrespective of forecast and so far the worst breakage has been a sprayhood window from a thrashing sheet. And it was knackered anyway.
 
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Racing Is Not The Only Way To Learn Fast Sailing

I'm curious why you'd make such negative and discouraging comments....

Its just a bit of fun, that's all in response to SolentBoy's post. I raced dinghies through my teenage years and then crewed and helmmed for many years racing on the Clyde. My observations are actually based on this. Some regular racers just didn't get the fact that they couldn't set sails correctly.

Racing was great fun but I am no longer interested in the challenge or going where others have decided. No big reason, just got fed up.

The mantra that racing improves speed related sailing skills compared to cruising has always been a myth. If one wishes to sail efficiently and as fast as their boat can, then the racing course is not the only place to learn that. In fact it can be a negative learning experience.

The literature available to the boat owner who is interested in optimising their sailing skills is legion. A simple log that shows speed through water in 10ths of a knot is all that needed for the sailor to test their sail trim as they cruise along. Indeed, fast cruising is a goal in itself.

Boat handling, especially close quarters handling, is a fundamental skill that can be developed in many cruising situations and is not limited to a start line or mark. For example, on a standard triangular course, correctly laid, any position on the line is equal in terms of distance to the windward mark. Yet the crush for one of the ends is quite often ridiculous by skippers that should know better.

My point is, if folks want to learn to sail fast, efficiently and confidently, it can be done cruising, in a more relaxing format such that the learning experience is not complicated by racing.

I do encourage (in human form) all those who wish to race to do so as it is great fun but its not the only way to learn.
 
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