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Should I try racing

2103 Views 17 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  CalebD
I have been learning how to sail on a 24' sloop the past two years and love it. I was thinking about trying to crew for a race team. Is it worth finding out how the other half lives?
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Don't see why not, I've just started doing exactly that.

Give it a try. Even try it on your boat. Best method is to find a friendly soul to take you out during a race. Listen to their tips. Hopefully have a good time. If not, try again on a different boat.

I must say my first race where I crewed was poor. The wind died and the race was called 1/2 through. My next race I raced my own boat. Had an absolute blast (wind helped). I didn't think that I was going to do much racing the first few years. Now I look forward to the next race. It is a different world than pleasure sails. Both are nice, but have a totally different appeal for me. When pleasure sailing I am with the wife and kids and working hard to basically single hand. Need to pick days without much chop or high winds. When racing we push the boat, work hard, and hope for a strong wind.

Most important thing as a beginner, find a good friendly group to get out there with.
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Is it worth it? Definitely!

All the tricks and techniques you'll learn by racing OPBs or your own boat will stand you in good stead while cruising. You can easily gain an hour or more over a day-long passage by paying attention to sail trim, steering, and choosing when to tack or gybe over someone doing none of those things.

This can mean the difference between snagging that last mooring buoy at your favourite park, getting the last spot on the dock of a marina, or simply having more choices about where to anchor at your final destination, not to mention leaving more time for those R&Cs you'll be wanting to enjoy!!
Wished I would have known wondering the docks could have put me on a boat when I was young...get out there if you have the opportunity....personally I think racers tend to be better sailors.
Sounds like I'll give it a try. Heres my next question, I know a resturaunt where they race once a week should I just go up and see if any one needs crew or should I call the race club ahead of time? Is it OK to sign up that day, do you bring cash or check and about how much?
Sounds like I'll give it a try. Heres my next question, I know a resturaunt where they race once a week should I just go up and see if any one needs crew or should I call the race club ahead of time? Is it OK to sign up that day, do you bring cash or check and about how much?
More information can't hurt and the worst you might get is an "I don't know" so I'd call them up.

I've crewed on a Tartan 40 over the past 3 years during which I've owned a 32' and now a 36' boat. I've managed to learn a ton from crewing though I have to say I still rarely know where the heck we are during our around the bouy races. The owner skipper runs his own race so the fleet is rarely nearby making it hard to know how we're doing. Still I've learned a lot about sail trim and helming during some of the longer races I've crewed on. In particular I learned a lot during the Down the Bay Race where I had my first experience helming at night. A great lesson on steering the boat just feeling the wind on your face and watching the boat speed to know when to head up or fall off.

I think the thing you mainly learn as crew is about sail trim, at least until you've been on the crew a while where you might get handed the helm, at which point someone might start talking tactics with you.
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I'd think long and hard if you have a older boat and can't afford to be replacing things and fixing damage. While racing is fun, those the race (at least my experiance) are VERY competitive, the boats in my YC are starting to show the toll of racing. Last weekend one of the boats rounded up and climbed the toe rail into the cockpit from starboard. it was an accident of course. but the damage is going to be costly. I'd rather crew on someone else's boat!
I was thinking I should crew on someone else's boat mine is a 1968. She sails great but there is always somthing breaking. It feels like I climb up the mast at least twice a year.
Sounds like I'll give it a try. .... Is it OK to sign up that day, do you bring cash or check and about how much?
You should not be expected to pay anything... if you're willing, able, and reliable someone will be happy to have you. By all means bring a case of beer for the crew afterward if you like, but I'd be shocked if a skipper wanted to charge you.

Drop-ins are usually welcomed, esp if someone has had a no-show or cancellation. I'd just drop by and ask what's up, if anyone needs some railmeat or is otherwise shorthanded. Be honest about your experience (or lack thereof)

This is an excellent way to learn about boat handling, meet like-minded people, and make connections for your sailing future.
Thanks for the info Faster I rather drop in and see how it goes then make formal plans. Plus I like to meet the people I am sailing with in person before I decide to get on there boat. My boat always out drinks the crew and never pays so I'll bring a 30 pack.
Yup, just drop by the docks and ask if anyone is looking for crew. Tell em you're trying to get into racing, and don't be alarmed if someone speaks at an elevated tone to you during the race. They just want to go faster. Race on a bunch of different boats. If you learn quickly, you'll be recommended to crew for other boats in no time. Then you start to get cool, fast, sexy rides, instead of the slow boats. That being said, you can learn a tone from a slow boat.

What part of the Bay are you on? I race all over and could point you to a few good racers.
I am on the Rhode river but was thinking about going over to Pirates Cove over on the West River. I believe wrrc or wrsc have a 1:00 pm race every Sunday in Oct. I live in Odenton so Magothy,Severn and South river are all good for me. Yelling at me is no problem, but I don't care for bad sportsmanship.
"Should I try Racing?"

Absolutely - however there are a few caveats that any who ask that question should think about.

If you love sailing and find yourself always wanting to know how to make the boat sail and work better then YES.
If you just like sitting on a boat and have no desire to trim sails or learn more then probably NO.

If you hate having an interesting conversation interrupted and like to discuss non sailing related topics or topics not about the current situation or race then you may be in for a surprise. When racing everybody is expected to be thinking about the race - all of the time. Often on our boat in a longer race I have to break into someone's conversation to ask for an adjustment - some people may find that rude but in racing skippers find inattentiveness a bit annoying.

With all this said - if you love sailing and are a sponge for knowledge then racing is what you should try. You will very quickly learn about a lot of handling and trim techniques that will make your everyday pleasure sailing more pleasurable.

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I am guessing but I am assuming that by "A restaurant with a race fleet" you mean Pirates Cove in Galesville. That is a great bunch of folks down there. By all means wander the docks looking for a ride. Bring cards with you that have your name, phone numbers, and email as well as words to the affect of "Looking to crew" in bold letters (I make these up in MSWord and just cut them out roughly business card size) and if you see someone heading out to race ask if they need crew. Even if no one needs crew that evening, I would still suggest at each boat that you are available if they need crew in the future and offer then your card. There is also a bulletin board in the Restaurant (by the heads) that often have "need crew" and "Crew Available" postings.

You might also attend the Spinsheet Crew Party in the spring. I have gotten to race on some great boats that way.

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What a drag it is getting old and stiff and slow so to be to intimidated to ask for those rides anymore....don't wait any longer if you want to do it it now will not regret it.

I plan on entering my boat in some local races...not ever having advantage of opb opportunities I will be behind the eight ball to be sure....but will greatly enjoy what little I pick up along the way shadowing and copy catting others...I'm looking forward to learning in reverse...from people whom possibly want to crew for me.

We we looking forward to this years swift-sure until things went south...soon I keep saying over and over in my head ....someday soon.
No, you don't want to try racing. Nope.

HAHA... No one is going to say no! And many skippers are looking for crew. Finding crew is, strangely enough, a challenge. Finding reliable and skilled crew - well that's extremely difficult. Finding reliable and skilled crew that is willing to practice, almost can't be done.

So try it and if you like it alot, and work hard, they will come to you.
My experience is that racing skippers like to have a team of crew members who will show up week after week. This way they do not have to 'train' a different person each week with harsh language. So, if you are willing to make a weekly commitment then let them know this - I know you may not know if you really want to commit to this just yet.
Try it. See if you like it. Then either walk away or be open to making a commitment.
Good luck.
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