Starting – A Little Homework Goes a Long Way

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Unlike NASCAR or Horse racing, in sailing you can start wherever you’d like. But what are you looking for in deciding where to start? Paul Abdullah gives us some insight on how he prepares for the start.
Let’s break down a few things to help you make your decision. What does the weather forecast predict? Are there any local land effects that might make a difference on the race course? Has there been any wind shifts leading up to the start of the race? Knowing these things will help you decide where to start on the starting line so you can go to the side of the race course you like.
I usually get to the starting area early and start taking wind reading every 5 minutes. This will allow me to track what is happening on the water. I’ll sail upwind taking compass headings on both tacks just so I’ll know the compass numbers after the start.
Next I’ll get back to the starting area and start doing my starting line homework. This is the most important part of my starting routine because there’s no guessing, just math! Run the starting line from the RC boat to the pin end of the line and get the compass heading. Let’s say you get 100 degrees. Now add 90 degrees to that…..which equals 190. Now you can easily figure out what end of the line is favored depending on the head-to-wind compass headings. If you get 190 the line is square. If it’s 180, the pin is favored and 200 the boat is favored! The wind may shift during the starting sequence and you’ll be able to make a decision change on the fly knowing all of this. Now we’re almost there…….
I like to be at a 1/3 from the favored end of the line because it’s less risky. Whenever you get in a crowd bad things can happen! In order to get a good start you need to be as close to the starting line without being over and have the boat up to speed. I use good line sights if possible. The best is to pick a house or a tree on shore, that when lined up with the pin end you know where you are on the line. Maybe it’s a boat length or two off the line or even on the line, but knowledge is power. Getting your bow out just a little makes a big difference 1-3 minutes after the start.
I hope this helps you have more fun next time you’re out racing. 
Paul Abdullah
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