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Coach’s Corner

The Big Start

Sailboat racing isn’t that complicated.  You get a good start, lead the race early, cover the other boats and collect the trophy.  What’s so difficult about that?  Well, it seems as though some sailors are always getting “head starts,” and it’s in these head starts where winning sailors seem to separate themselves from the non-winners and end up on the podium.  Darn… I guess it’s not that simple.

So why give a boat a “head start”?  I mean, you have every bit as much right to be on the line with them at the gun, right?  Starting can be broken down into many parts, pieces, logarithms and math equations on some expensive T90 handheld programming tool.  However, for the purposes of easy reading, I’m going to keep it simple:  PREPARATION.


Preparation is what gives sailors “head starts” on their competition; this is especially important at the very beginning of every race—“the start.”  When Michelangelo was creating the Sistene Chapel or when Bill Gates was designing Microsoft, neither was 100 per cent sure of what they were going to create, but they knew it was going to be something amazing.  The start of a race is analagous to both of these situations.  Here are some tips to keep in mind to give you that extra edge:

Practice starts every training session, even if you only have a few.  Timing drills, see how long it takes to accelerate to full speed (especially at different wind speeds).

Have a plan:

Go over where you want to start on the line and how you’re going to do it, but be sure at any point that the plan can change and take you in another direction.

Be in control:
Ensure you’re in complete control of your own destiny at all times.  Try to avoid sticky situations with other people that might get in your way, and thus ruin your plan.

So go into the start of a race with an open mind. Be prepared, so as not to let anything keep you from having one of those “head starts.”  And make sure, in the end, you’ve created something amazing, something that people are going to look at and say “now that’s a work of art!” 


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