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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There has been a lot of discussion here about improving your performance in racing. Some of it has been pretty good, some a little misleading. I have been successful in club racing for a while. It took a while to get there (years). My breakthrough moment was when I realized that winning was the result of a process rather than any single magic "pill" solution.

Racing is about preparation, skill, and luck. You win by doing a lot of little things right and not making major mistakes

1. Preparation- a folding/feathering prop is a must.Prop. Dragging that fixed prop around in light air or low speed downwind conditions is a killer.
Sails- you don't need a big budget for sails for club racing. If you have a big main fractional rig then spend your money on a good main and skimp on the rest. Conversely if you sail in a light air area and you have a masthead rig- spend it on a 155% Rig. If you can't find a tuning guide for your boat- get a sailmaker or experience friend to help you. Make sure all your sail controls and leads run freely. Mark your genoa tracks for different wind settings.Make sure you have a powerful vang and outhaul.

2. Skill- practice as often as possible. Boathandling especially at marks wins races. Try to develop a consistent crew. If you have crew than build a pool of 8-10 regulars. Encourage people to come out. Debrief after every race and talk about ways to improve. Know the rules. Attend seminars to understand them better. Go out and crew on other boats. Try to get on a winning boat as crew occasionally. You will learn a lot and develop acquaintances that might race with you in the future. Get good starts. Not as easy as it sounds in a mixed handicap fleet. Sometimes the perfect start is a disaster as considerably faster boats roll you when you are in the right place. Assess the fleet beforehand and understand the limitations of your boat. As a mid speed boat in my fleet I always try to find the largest hole I can and get up to speed quick. When at speed I then can tack to the favored side if needed after the fast boats have cleared. Handicap- Forget about it. It is a waste of energy to worry about it unless your boat has been misidentified by the PHRF committee. In some fleets your position in the class split and the course designation will have more bearing on your outcome than your rating. Pick out the boat who finishes third a lot. Concentrate on strategies to beat that boat. When you become successful against that boat start working on the first and second place boats.

3. LuckYou create your own luck. Get out there and race. Learn from your mistakes. Don't kid your self into thinking someone else is somehow inherently better, he cheats, or is always lucky. People will accuse you of being lucky or worse once you start winning. It is amazing how lucky you are if you win a lot. Unfortunately that kind of luck doesn't transfer over to lottery results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
J34035

Good advice, a clean bottom is very important. Also bottom fairing prep can help. You need to make sure your rudder is extremely fair and smooth. Other areas to concentrate on are leading and trailing edges of keel. There are very small gains for fairing areas beyond that.
 

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Club racing, as one of the guys that tallies the points, is about consistency.
Consistent sailing as well as as consistently participating, and not just for practice.

To consistently get the gold you have to consistently show and race.
In 2005 and 2006 I crewed a 22 ft Catalina (1976) with original sails and a bottom full of weed to overall third place trophies two years in a row having never placed better than LAST in every race!

I got a third place trophy in 2007 because I was committee boat three out of four races, (our club awards 3rd place points for committee boat to encourage participation as RC). I never raised a sail, and as a catamaran couldn't even compete and got a trophy!

How, by showing up and completing every race. Winners get 1 point, second 2, third 3 etc.. boats that miss a race get an automatic last place for every race in that series that they don't show up for. It adds up, and hurts.

For example, if 6 boats participate in a 4 race series and you win races 2 and 3 without showing for other 2 your total point score 7+1+1+7 = 16.
The guy that came in 4th on each race has 16 points also and ties you. If he committee boats one of those races he beat you.
Heck if he committee'd twice he might get first place for the series.

Know the rules indeed, but know all the rules including what happens after the race.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tips for sailing downwind in the JAM Class

JAM racing (jib & Main) has become very popular in some clubs especially in Wednesday night series. Here are a few tips to help you improve your position.

1. Know your local rules and set your boat up right. Most areas limit the the pole length to the J dimension of your boat. The best way to control your winged out sail is to use a mast mounted car, topping lift, and pole down haul. These are same controls commonly used to control a spinnaker.
2. Know your angles. Depending on wind strength, most boats sail efficiently downwind angles between 150 and 190 degrees with the genoa poled out. I know, 190 degrees is by the lee. Typically the fastest angle is about 170 degrees with the pole forward of perpendicular to the mast. Forward shrouds will affect this and on some boats you might have to position the pole between the forward and upper shrouds. Wind strength is the determining factor, the more wind the deeper the angle.

3. Unless the wind is 15 or over don't just point to the downwind mark and pop a beer. Sail to the favored side and gybe when necessary.

4. Use the pole down haul to control leech tension. Generally put pole as low as possible on the mast so that you can get proper leech tension on larger genoas.

5. Unless you are at hull speed, get the weight out of the back of the boat. Keeping a slight heel will facilitate steering.

6. Play the genoa sheet to help steering. The less rudder movement the better in light air.

7. Use your sail controls properly. Backstay off, slight vang so the boom doesn't bounce and outhaul on main tight. Some might disasgree with outhaul setting as it is common practice to ease the outhaul. In this downwind "barn door" mode a flat main actually exposes more sail area to the wind.

8. Pick your lanes. Be aware of competitors behind you covering you with their wind shadow. Also project your wind shadow to cover competitors in front of you.

Bottom line. Downwind in JAM is a great place to pick up positions. Take advantage of some of your competitors who tend to relax as the apparent wind softens from their upwind mode.
 

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Club racing, as one of the guys that tallies the points, is about consistency.
Consistent sailing as well as as consistently participating, and not just for practice.

To consistently get the gold you have to consistently show and race.
In 2005 and 2006 I crewed a 22 ft Catalina (1976) with original sails and a bottom full of weed to overall third place trophies two years in a row having never placed better than LAST in every race!

I got a third place trophy in 2007 because I was committee boat three out of four races, (our club awards 3rd place points for committee boat to encourage participation as RC). I never raised a sail, and as a catamaran couldn't even compete and got a trophy!

How, by showing up and completing every race. Winners get 1 point, second 2, third 3 etc.. boats that miss a race get an automatic last place for every race in that series that they don't show up for. It adds up, and hurts.

For example, if 6 boats participate in a 4 race series and you win races 2 and 3 without showing for other 2 your total point score 7+1+1+7 = 16.
The guy that came in 4th on each race has 16 points also and ties you. If he committee boats one of those races he beat you.
Heck if he committee'd twice he might get first place for the series.

Know the rules indeed, but know all the rules including what happens after the race.
Like Woody Allen said: "80% of success is showing up," or something like that.
 

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The other 20% is avoiding mistakes. Let the other guys make them, if you can, and you rise to the top. We beat a lot of boats that have asym spinnakers because they get their angles wrong downwind. They go really fast, but end up going further than they should and we snag them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
On a shorter windward leeward courses the masthead symmetrical spinnaker boats have a big advantage in winds more than 7-8 and less than planing conditions. The Asym boats sail the polar hot angles and they run out of room on the downwind legs to make up the distance. In light air even the symmetrical spinnaker boats have to sail hotter angles and the playing field is leveled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Race report 2-21

A week ago Saturday I was lucky enough to be in St. Pete. with some free time. Quite a respite from the cold back in Ohio. I found a ride at the Gasparilla Regatta at Apollo Beach hosted by the Tampa Sailing Squadron. TSS is a very friendly club with a lot of nice people who helped me find a crew slot on Friday. They had 43 boats in various classes ranging full spinnaker to cruising. I hopped aboard a local Newport 28 SD in the racer cruiser class which is a spinnaker class with longer legs than the normal short courses. Our competition was a J42 and a Beneteau 53F5. To say that we were pretty far apart in handicap was a major understatement. Weather was great warming to 70+ degrees by race end. The breeze was between 8-10 knots and the waves were flat. We had a good start although we let the J in at the boat because we were not that sure that he would go up. Our crew of 5 worked pretty well as we constantly worked the boat downwind with frequent pole changes and angle changes. 8 miles into a 12 mile race we caught the J-42 as they were hoisting a spinnaker. We were reaching with a jib as the owner was putting duct tape on our spinnaker that had torn on the reaching strut during a takedown. The J got back ahead of us as we chased the Beneteau in a jib reach for the last leg. About a mile from the finish we watched the Beneteau pop a chute and go pole back while we were still hard on the wind in a dying breeze going the same direction. Weird. We obviously were sailing into a convergence zone between the onshore and offshore breezes so we tacked towards shore to stay in the pressure. Noting that we were way ahead on handicap at this point we chose to wing and wing the last quarter of a mile rather than put up our rather dodgy chute. The results can be found on page 2 of the Tampa Sailing Squadron website for the Gasparilla Regatta. Without handicap we finished 49 secs behind the J-42 and 7 minutes 35 secs behind the Beneteau 53F5. With handicap, not even close.The after party was great with barbecue chicken and ribs cooked in the club barbecue pit. Thanks to Bill and his crew for having me. Now if I could only get away for more racing.
 
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