As you begin mapping out your racing schedule for the upcoming season, it's a good time to consider what improvements you can make that will impact your results on the racecourse. New sails? Sure! Good, consistent crew? Certainly! A smooth, clean bottom? Absolutely!
But what else can you do? How about a more diligent and thorough boat maintenance programone where you routinely check your equipment and find problems before they actually cause you to retire from a race or hinder your performance. Because there are so many aspects of sailboat racing that you cannot control, it becomes very important to control the things you can. Equipment preparation and maintenance is absolutely within your control.
During our Soling Campaign from 1995 through 2000, my teammates and I spent a significant amount of time working on our equipment. At times, the ratio of work hours to sailing hours was about one to one. Occasionally, the ratio was even higher than that. And it paid off. In six years of Olympic level racing, we never once had to withdraw from a race because of broken equipment.