So you’ve timed the start right. You’re in the best quadrant and in the front row. The gun goes off…what matters most right now? Acceleration and clear air. Champion sailor Peter Vaiciurgis, from NS14.org, shares his thoughts on accelerating and maintaining clear air at the start in the video below.
Peter discounts worries about being able to tack after the start. He recommends focusing on accelerating to drive ahead of the competition and then lanes will open up.
It’s critical to get solid acceleration off the starting line in clear air. So how do you do this? Do you focus on the boat to windward or the boat to leeward? Too many sailors worry about the boat to windward, but if you accelerate well, they would have to sail quite fast to catch up to you and block your air. Conversely, the boat to leeward has to gain far less distance to lee-bow you and slow you down for the advantage. If the boat to leeward does a better job accelerating, then as you slow, the windward boat CAN also get into position to block your air. So focus on getting off the line fast and accelerate quickly.
Your goal after the start is to sail hard because it could define who you compete with at the windward mark and how clear your lanes will be after that. Boat speed is key.
Next, you need to hit the first shift ahead of everyone else. Peter predicts that the one that hits that shift first is more likely to round first at the mark. This means that you need to know which side your aiming for and where the shift will hit.