Great starts are the stuff that dreams are made of. But when the occasional nightmare start sabatoges your plans, there are ways to salvage a positive outcome. One of the most predictable trouble areas for most sailors is the start. It’s easy to get clogged up, risk a foul, or just get rolled off the starting line. And worse, any mistake there gets accentuated because the fleet is so compressed.
A good start in dinghy sailing can be crucial to a good result and whilst races are not won on the startline, they can certainly be lost. During the first 30 seconds of the first beat every meter translates to more positions gained or lost than at any other time during the race!
Modern racing dinghies all use asymmetric spinnakers or gennakers providing thrilling high speed reach-to-reach racing on the downwind leg using the apparent wind. Unlike symetrical spinnakers, the gennaker has its clew attached to a continuous sheet while the tack is attached to a pole that is pulled out from the bow when the gennaker is hoisted & retracted when the gennaker is dropped.
Smooth tacks and error free gybes are critical if you are to win the race. It is imperative that you practice your tacks and gybes at every opportunity in all wind strengths, I suggest that you put aside an hour per on-the-water training day to complete 50 tacks and 50 gybes, tacking or gybing every 30 seconds.
As sailors it is the wind that drives our boats forward and round the race course, to be competitive we need to be sure to use it to our best advantage at all times. It requires intense concentration and perfect sail trim to maintain your boat speed through the gusts, lulls and windshifts around the racecourse.