Join Date: Dec 2002
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Racing basics desired
Love the last name (do you belong to the beer magnate family featured on the Simpsons?)
I''ll assume your boat has wheel steering at that size.
If you''re looking to join a typical beer can racing fleet flying spinnakers in boats displacing from 5-10 tons or more, you''re taking a big step up from sunfish. Racing sunfish is a good background for learning tactics and such, but the point is handling a big boat, flying a spinnaker downwind, etc. will take some adjustment. How much sailing have you done on her so far? Ever flown the spinnaker?
It might be best for you to spend a season (spring/summer/fall) crewing on someone else''s boat that''s been doing it for a while just to get a feel for what''s needed to handle a boat that size smartly during a race.
I stepped onto my little 25 footer in 2003, and started racing her that year because:
*She had tiller steering
*Her sail area (mainsail, anyway) was comparable to the overpowered Hobie 16 I''ve been sailing and racing for years
*I race nonspinnaker fleet (jib and main only)
*The cockpit is small enough, with sail controls (sheets) within close reach so that if an inexperienced crew (your are likely to have inexperienced crew at first, so you need to be the one who knows the ropes) did something wrong or failed to do something, the proper solution was usually one or two steps, and seconds, away from the tiller
*I was confident enough in my boat handling abilities, and knowledge of the racing rules, to feel up to the job even though a 25 footer weighing a couple of tons is a big step up from dinghies.
If you''re that confident in your sailing abilities, good for you. I don''t know of any particular books that deal with keelboat racing basics, I guess you just need to combine basic ability to handle a keelboat with a crew in various wind conditions with confidence, combined with a basic understanding of racing rules and tactics.
Racing is a great way to hone your boathandling abilities, and learn your boat and what it can and can''t do. Just keep in mind that 8 to 10 tons of boat is a lot of oomph to go plowing into someone else''s hull, and the loads on the sheets for sails on your boat will not be trifling, particularly when the wind is up. You can certainly "practice" being a race boat by gathering potential crew, heading out and doing basic maneuvers; rounding marks (nav buoys), tacking and gybing, sailing in a circle, crash tacks, etc. Head out when the wind is up and feel whether the boat has weather helm or (yikes!) lee helm. See what happens when a puff hits and the boat heels excessively; does the boat round up suddenly? (Don''t try this with anything to windward) Try it again and see if you can release the main easily to depower the sails (don''t count on releasing a jib quickly 100 percent of the time if you are using a winch, because every now and then someone will either wrap the sheet the wrong way or "overwrap" the turns so that you can''t get them unjammed). You want to be able to have more or less complete control of your boat regardless of wind conditions, minor mishaps (like a stuck sheet, or a sheet letting go, a halyard coming uncleated, etc.) so that you can safely avoid collisions with other boats in tight quarters.
On my 25 footer with plenty of wind I''m grateful to have 4 crew (me and 3 others). A boat your size flying spinnaker, you''d probably want at least 4, maybe more with a lot of wind.
Good luck and have fun. Remember to keep the boat in the water, and keep the water out of the boat!