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NewportNewbie 07-05-2012 07:28 PM

I think I may do some racing!!!
Ok...I have a pretty old boat...but she's in great conniption and we have these in harbor races here weekly...I'm thinking of getting in on the fun. I have been out and scoped the competition and there are some full on 40+ ft ocean racers with carbon sails and there are some old and slow cruising boats. I figure I'd like to be somewhere in between...There is no spinnakers in this so gear shouldn't be too bad...any ideas on how to fit the boat for something like this? What should I look to get to improve her for racing? In harbor wind is usually under 10 knots...

DrB 07-05-2012 07:39 PM

Use your current sails
Get some competent crew, read up on the rules, contact the race committee and introduce yourself and your interesting racing and that it is your first time, show up and give it a whirl.

Don't spend any money on "upgrades" until you are convinced you like it.


msmith10 07-05-2012 07:52 PM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!
Good luck. You'll have great fun and improve your sailing skills at the same time.
Make sure the bottom is clean. I'm in fresh water, so I've got it a lot easier than you, but I scrub the bottom 2-3 times during the season if not before every race. In light air it makes a big difference.
Sail trim is the next key. Watch the guy who's passing you. What's he doing that you aren't? Move the traveler to windward going upwind if you're not getting rounded up. Watch jib car placement. Lots of telltales on the jib and main will help you watch for stalled sails. Get North's book on sail trim.
Keep the rail out of the water. A little heel is fast (10-15 degrees) but too much slows you down.
The start is important- be at the line when you're supposed to be. If you're more than 15 seconds late crossing the line it's hard to make up the time.
Practice your tacks so they're smooth. Don't try to point immediately into the tack. Ease your sails a little after coming about, get speed, then point and bring them in.
In light air the key is to keep the boat moving. Don't worry about which direction you're going- just keep moving.
Pick the boat that you think is your main competition and don't let him get away from you. When he tacks, you tack.

Do you have a fixed prop? That's a speed killer in light wind. That's the only tip here that costs money.
Tactics will come. Don't let people pass you to windward- head them up. Fall back off when they give up. Some boats will outpoint you and you can't do this, but most won't be able to.

Sabreman 07-05-2012 07:53 PM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!
Doing some racing is probably the best series of sailing lessons that you can give yourself.

Realistically, I'd recommend that you do only three things to prepare to race. None of which include buying anything for the boat.

First, buy yourself a book on sail trim. I like Sail and Rig Tuning by Ivar Dedekam. Lots of great pictures and practical advice. IMO, you shouldn't buy a single boat part without digesting the book. Figure on a full season for that (and the rest of your life to really understand).

Second, I'd download the sailing instructions and read the basics so you don't get yourself into too much trouble. If you're racing against anyone with carbon sails, they're serious and they won't want you barging, not giving room at the mark, etc. They may also try to intimidate you (a sailing art form) to get you to back off from a good position.

Three, get a PHRF rating and flags for your class. It's not expensive.

Prepared to get hammered. Anyone who tells you that their boat is fast without racing is blowing smoke. Realistically, you have no idea until you're up against someone else. That's why syndicates spend millions on trial boats against which to compare themselves (like a scrimmage team). When you come in at the back of the pack, analyze what you did wrong. Trust me, it ain't the boat's fault. When you've improved your performance 50%, then start looking at new sails. There is controversy regarding which sail is more important and should be replaced first - main or genoa. The reality is that they're equally important, working together to form a single entity. A clean sail does not mean a fast sail. If you have new sails and know how to trim them (see item #1), you'll finish half way (ish) up the fleet. To go the rest of the way, you need to master item #2 (tactics). A subscription to Sailing World is nice, with lots of tactics advice. The trend of my advice is to learn and not to spend $$.

Good luck! Get out there and enjoy. It's a gas and the camaraderie with your crew will be priceless. You will be a much better sailor for it.

PS. My Avatar was taken near the end of the 2010 MD Governor's Cup race. Among other things, I learned not to dig holes in the water when tacking. I also started to learn about staying near the rhumb line and not taking such deep tacks. Racing is all about learning.

PPS. The above advice is what I learned the hard way. I'm still learning and still hoping for better starts and finishes. It's not the boat's fault.

WDS123 07-05-2012 08:22 PM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!

The best place to start will be in the Thursday evening races inside the Turning Basin. Jib and Main only. I think they still have a cruising class which will be the most low key.

Looks like you'd be in Div 5 -

Did your buddy who sold you your boat race ? If yes, then have him drive.

If not, you will want to first have some one drive who is an experienced racer.

1) do not buy anything for your S30 until you have raced the beercans for at least 12 months
2) do not race drive yourself until you have participated in, say, 10 races.
3) do not have expectations that you will finish anywhere but D F L for a long time

4) enjoy enjoy enjoy
5) have fun
6) keep it light hearted

puddinlegs 07-05-2012 09:57 PM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!
What WDS said. And clean your bottom.

minnow1193 07-05-2012 11:27 PM

Just do it. Have fun. You have the passion for sailing, run with it. Been great to follow your progress so far....:)

overbored 07-06-2012 12:51 AM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!
first, need to be a yacht club member and join so cal PHRF and get a rating. so if not a member there is an up front cost. you could crew on a boat to see if it is for you.

second, enter the race and they will tell you the class you are to race in. based on PHRF rating.

third, get some one to skipper or call the shots on your first several races, someone that has raced before in the Newport Beach beer cans is prefered. the class you will be in is a good place to start racing.

Forth, get a crew and get out there and have some fun. just remember that there are rules and if you do not know them. the other racers will pick up on that and take advantage of you. some may be there for the fun but some of the racers in Newport Beach might be out for a little of your blood.

best way to learn how to sail well is to race your boat.

Yankee 07-06-2012 01:39 AM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!
Mosty cost-effective preparations for racing are:

1) Remove all unnecessary weight. You've only got a limited amount of power in your sails and you have to accelerate the total mass of the boat and everything on it each time you tack.

2) Study the rules and understand them. Every other skipper expects you to know them and will use your lack of knowledge against you if you don't.

3) Learn that going fast in the wrong direction doesn't help you.

Remember, a yacht race is won by the boat that makes the fewest mistakes. Accept that you will have to put in your time at the back of the fleet before begining show any great results from all your effort. Good luck and have fun!

SchockT 07-06-2012 02:52 AM

Re: I think I may do some racing!!!
Definitely a cruising class is a good place to start. It wouldn't hurt to get a ride as crew on a more experienced boat for a couple of races so you know what to expect. Ideally on a boat in the same division as your boat.

I don't agree that you should let someone else drive your boat for you. If you find someone experienced to go with you, it is good to have them deal with trim and tactics so that you can concentrate on steering. The start line can be very intimidating, but when you are just starting out, just deal with the second row starts and stay out of the fray! You can get more aggressive as your experience builds.

You will need to pick out the biggest headsail that you think you will use and have it measured along with your mainsail. They will need that info for your rating.

You DON'T have to be a member of a yacht club to race, unless it is a members only race run by a club. Most beer can racing is open to all comers.

You will do fine! As long as your competitors know you are a newbie they will likely cut you some slack, particularly in a No Flying Sails division, since not many serious racers would be there.

Good Luck!

p.s. You should definitely get on those sail trim pics you were going to post for us so we can help get you up to speed!

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