Welcome to sailnet.
Winches on the cabin top is not really a bad thing, easier to cross sheet and keep the trimmers weight to the high side. Try to find a 95%-110% sail for the heavy air days as a partially rolled up furler doesn't do well at all going to windward.
Does your non spin class allow headsail changes during a race? If so, practice them. Inside, outside, and tack sets.
Set up your boat so your crew as easy access to things while they're on the rail. Like a vang, outhaul, and cunni.
Sail on the lifted tack. Always helps.
Sail in more breeze until you're at hull speed going to windward. Off the wind, sail in as much breeze as you can until you break something.
Encourage yourself and your crew to be the best sail trimmers on the planet, you can always go faster.
When you start out, follow the fast guys w/o getting into their **** air. Just sail on the same side of the course they're on. The good boats are usually heading the right direction. Later, after you learn how to chose the better side yourself, you can split from the pack.
There's a ton of stuff, read this for a start...
RACING BASICS - Beginner's Racing Manual