Starting Tips

Starting - When & Where?

Any type of a start when racing at Merricks Yacht Club can be deemed the “most intense” moment of the overall race. There is the time sequence to understand! The class flags and what's mine again? The position of the line in relationship to what is really happening further up the first beat. What is happening to the wind direction? Consideration of where to be on the race course? Where will the tide run harder, is it behind or coming toward you. Or if it is slowing down before a change of direction? Has the tide changed early against the shore and not out in the deep water?

It is noticeable that being late for a start is never an issue because the MYC start boat will always wait, but unfortunately this is only unique to MYC. Whenever there comes a time that you do venture away from MYC for other racing, you will find the starting time is the time listed in the sailing instructions, no-one will wait for the late comers, starts are only delaid because of lack of wind or change of direction.

It is important to know that the most important part of the start is after the gun and what your situation is on the course after a minute or two (2). Click Here Being right on the line at the start gun is nice, but there are more important factors to remember.

Much has been written about finding the "favoured" end of a starting line, this is and can be a very overrated statement, because at MYC we always sail in a mixed fleet. It is more important at MYC to understand where to position yourself on the line, to be on time and at the correct end to put your boat in a great place two (2) minutes after the start.

Seldom do the race committee start a race with a clear bias toward the pin end and the fastest way to check this is to sail head to wind, in the middle of the line, always look toward the pin to see which end of the line the bow is angled more toward or away. If the bow is closer, this is the end that is closer to the windward mark. Chances are that there will be very little difference, so your plans after the start are more important of where your will be after two (2) minute after the start.

 Suppose you think that there is going to be more wind with less tide on the right side of the course, or a wind shift from the right will appear later during the upwind beat. So start on the right side of the starting line. It would be better to start a few seconds, or be a few boat lengths after the gun, right at the race committee boat, with the ability to tack as soon as you clear the anchor line, than to be on the line with a boat on your windward quarter, pinned, so you cannot tack to the favoured right hand side.

Conversely, if you think that going to the left side of the windward leg is better, start near the pin end of the line. But you may not be the only skipper who thinks going to the left hand side is better, so the pin maybe become very crowded, so always start in clear air as the next option. Usually, it is best to start at a position a few boat lengths away from that perfect pin end spot. Of course, if you see that you are alone and nobody is down there, within a few seconds to the gun, reach off and head for it fast!

The goal is to start when the boat is going faster than the normal upwind speed.  Click Here Yes, if you can close reach to the line and then harden up at the gun, you will actually be going faster than anybody close-hauled to the wind and a lot faster than any boats that are luffing to the line, becuase they are early. This will take practice to achieve the proper timing, but remember if you are out on the course early, rather than standing on the beach watching the seagulls, you can try and master this technique before the start.

So also start to know the habits of the MYC fleet, it’s easy to notice that most boats approach the started in the same way, every time there is a start The multihulls always approach at speed from within the “Barging Zone”, cause they take longer to tack and the inexperience crews will reach back and forth below the line (the second row as we call it).  And finally a very small group will always start differently each race, dependent upon the conditions, but these boats seem to be the ones we are looking at two (2) minites after the start and seem to be way ahead already.

Do your homework.