Judging the location of the line is one of the many difficult things in starting. Assuming your fleet does not allow GPS technology, you need a good line sight to give you confidence on the starting line. Here are some techniques and a practice drill for using a line sight.
When is a Line Sight Useful?
A line sight is effective if you can see the reference points during the last 20-30 seconds before the start. This will often be the case if sailors are hanging back (mid-line sag) or you’re starting near the pin. This may not always occur, but when it does, being prepared with a line sight can give you a major advantage. In bigger or more competitive fleets, unless you’re starting near an end, a line sight may be less practical. If so, just focus on staying bow out or bow even with your neighbors.
Line Sight – Skipper’s View
Most books say to get a line sight by sailing down the line and finding a shore reference. This reference point is useful for a person on the bow during the start. Without a crew member near the bow, many skippers doubt their ability to judge when the front of the boat reaches the line. Here’s a technique to build your confidence. See the illustration below.
- Sail parallel to the line about ½ boat length back. This approximates the skipper’s view during the start.
- Using the port end starting mark, find a shore reference point at each end of the line. Since you are sailing ½ boat length behind the line, the shore reference points will be different at each end.
- When starting, use the reference point for the end where you start. For a mid-line start, use a reference point in between the two end points.
Here’s a drill to practice judging the line from Sailing Drills by Rick White.
- Set up a long starting line
- Boats sail across the line (near the middle) one at a time:
– Skipper and crew raise hands when you think you reach the line
– Coach blows whistle when you reach the line
– How did you do?
- Get a line sight and try it again. Your results should improve.