The thing that makes me most nervous is the start...and the quick tacks/gybes before the start..only a couple feet away from other boats.
Yeah... the start... That's the scariest part and the part with which new racers have the most trouble. All that jockeying for position, boats tacking and gybing back-and-forth, more-or-less parallel to the start line, all of them looking to be in just the right spot
so they can turn into the line at just the right time
We got it right on, on our 2nd race. We also had boats so close to us on port and starboard you could almost reach our and touch them! I have been on boats at the start that had mere inches separating them from nearby boats. (And with captains yelling at one another about what the other was doing
But it's unavoidable. If you're going to race, and you're going to win, you gotta get in there and mix it up with the furball (as I call it). Just be on your toes and watch out for the other guy
. Try to always leave yourself an out. Leave yourself w/o an out, and somebody else screws up, well... Practice panic tacks and gybes, until your crew can handle them without panicing.
If it's any comfort, it seems more collisions occur going around the marks than at the start. There: Something else for you to worry about
Btw: A very experienced sailor at our club told me, one time after we'd had a [b]terrible[b/] start due to over-worry about starting too soon: "If you don't occasionally start early, you're always starting too late"