learn to sail

Perfecting your Dinghy Sailing Starts

Perfecting your Dinghy Sailing Starts

A good start in dinghy sailing can be crucial to a good result and whilst races are not won on the startline, they can certainly be lost. During the first 30 seconds of the first beat every meter translates to more positions gained or lost than at any other time during the race!

A good start is one where you are going in the desired direction in clean air, holding your lane 30 seconds after the gun. Ideally, at the gun, you want to be on the line, sailing at full speed on the favoured tack with room to leeward. Perfecting your start is all about having a starting procedure that you practise repeatedly. Below is the starting procedure that the Sailing Academy teaches to its students.

Before Warning Signal

Become comfortable in the sailing conditions
Devise your race plan and strategy
Identify your transits

After Warning Signal

Double check your transits and the startline bias

On Preparatory Signal

Synchronise your watch

Before One-Minute Signal

Sail upwind to double check your set-up and the startline bias

At One-Minute Signal

Check timing again and get in position for your final approach

After One-Minute Signal

Try to maintain sight of one end of the startline
Be aware of what is happening around, especially boats that could take the gap to leeward

25 seconds to go

Create a gap to leeward

10 seconds to go

Pull on kicker
Get the bow down to accelerate

3 seconds to go

Boat sailing at full speed to hit the startline

First 30 seconds after start

Concentrate on boat speed and holding your lane

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect.  If you put in the effort and practice the above starting procedure each and every time you go for a sail, you will very quickly notice a dramatic improvement to your starts at the regattas.