We raced near the top of the fleet on Lake Erie for about 15 years on a Heritage One-Ton. Some of these things might help.
1. Invite a sailmaker
to join you for a couple of races. Often, sails
are poorly shaped, old, etc. or just not trimmed best for your boat. A sailmaker
can help you improve your trim techniques. Be ready to upgrade to a main & #1 that are optimally fitted to your boat. And then - only use your race sails
2. Rotate through you crew and look for tallent at the helm
. Our skipper
was great to weather
but not as fast as our alternate helmsman on a reach or run.
3. Learn tactics appropriate to your vessel for special conditions. Ours was a heavy old IOR boat. It suffered greatly in light air but we found, for example, that we could use the mass to advantage with a spinnaker
run in 7 or less true by poking up for apparent wind
and speed and then falling way off to coast down, carrying the apparent with us until we slowed - repeat. This scalloping on a dead-down run increased our average speed by almost double. Do the jibes with speed and you won't collapse the kite.
4. Add inventory to cover your weaknesses. We carried 5 #1 jibs of different weights & cut; a drifter; two staysails; 4 spinnakers; blooper; #2, 3, 4, blade.
5. We lost
a race on sail handling once. We had a downwind return to the basin of about 7 miles. We jibed the spinnaker
about 100 times until we could absolutely do it perfectly without loosing it and without talking - eyes only.
6. We converted all spinnakers for string take-down. I recommend this as the best way to clear the kite without distracting the cockpit
crew. With practice, you can pull the spinnaker under the foot of the jib
as it is sucked into the turbulace behind the jib
. Leave the tac at the pole. The instant the spinnaker collapses you fire the halyard
. It must run free. Foredeck pulls the dousing string (attached at the numbers) and pulls in the lazy guy (clew) to the foredeck hatch
. It can go from up and drawing to gone in 1 to 2 boatlengths.
7. We used a lazy sheet & guy system which makes for much faster and cleaner gibes. It also allows you to choke down on the spinnaker if the boat starts into death rolls. You will never need to move blocks again.
8. See if there is an opportunity to sail on another boat with a great track record
9. We never allowed any beers aboard during races. We could generally count out any boat if we saw brew. You just aren't as sharp. This is right up there with clean bottom. We scrubbed the algae off weekly. A millimeter of slime draggs a lot of water
along and increases turbulance.
10. We stripped off all unnecessary weight, even including heavy sails on light days. We shop-vac'd the bilge
dry before leaving the dock
. Adding a boat box on the dock
allowed us to raise the water stripe 2 inches. That's a lot of drag.