Don’t be put off – get out there and do some races – the more you do, the more chances of not coming last!
The experienced racers have a duty to support and encourage others. That does not mean you can ignore the basic rules and plead ignorance. However, if you are slightly in the wrong they will help you and put you right!
Get a good start. So many people loose a minute or so being too far back from the line. Here is a good tactic to start
Safest to start at the right hand end of the line on a starboard tack.
You will probably be behind the best starters, so as soon as you are past the Transit bouy (each end of the line) then tack away onto port. DO NOT follow all the other boats in their dirty wind. When you get close to the bank, then tack back onto Starboard Tack and sail across the reservoir. You are now on starboard tack and can yell Starboard at anyone sailing across you and they have to keep out of the way.
When you get round the top mark onto a run or reach, let off your outhaul and lift your centre board partially
When you go round the last mark of the course and onto the beating back to the line leg of the course, think and prepare well in advance. You need a list of things to do and sort
put your centre board down
pull your outhaul back on
oh, and don’t go round the mark too fast, especially in heavy wind – aim for a smooth gentle rounding
Fiddling with sails. Generally don’t worry too much. But if you have the time to think about this – two things
Outhaul off/loose on reach/run; Outhaul on hard for a beat
Learn to adjust your kicker. If you pull it on it tightens the back edge of the sail. Too loose and the wind spills out, too tight and it is hooked back on itself and stalling. The idea setting of the kicker is so that the back edge of the sail is roughly parallel with your boom. Have a play with the kicker and see what happens.
Keep the boat flat. The good sailors will be keeping their boat flat on a beat. Its better to loosen the main a bit and keep flat and feel you have some speed than to sail heeled over. This is where the downhaul/Cunningham comes in to play on a beat. If you are struggling to keep the boat flat on the beat, then pull that down as hard as possible to depower the main.
Spot the wind shifts. This is getting a bit advanced. But as you get better you will notice the wind changing direction on a beat. If you find after 15-20 seconds the wind shift is making you sail away from the mark you are heading for too much, put a tack in.