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Performance Racing Tactics

by © Bill Gladstone

1.1 Why Do We Race Sailboats?
1.2 The Racing Pyramid
1.3 Using This Book

1.1 Why Do We Race Sailboats?

Sailboat racing requires a broad mix of skills: We need sailing and boat handling skills; an understanding of wind and weather; and knotional skills to manage crew; and analytical skills to grapple witwledge of tactics, strategy, and rules. We also need specialized sail trimming technique; organizah information. We need to be able to set goals and establish priorities, concentrate amidst chaos, ignore discomfort, and learn from our mistakes.

None of us can master all the skills. Part of the enduring appeal of racing is the breadth of the challenge it presents. Not only can we never master all the skills; we are challenged in new ways every race, for no two races present the same mix of challenges. Sailing’s appeal goes beyond these challenges. We enjoy racing for the chance to be out on the water, for the thrill of working with the wind, for the challenge of competition, and for the camaraderie it brings.

1.2 Tactics

This book covers sailboat racing tactics. Tactics in the broad sense means strategy, tactics, and rules. We define Strategy as the racing plan we create based on wind, wind shifts, and current. Strategy deals with environmental factors. Strategy does not include other boats. By Tactics we mean the techniques we use to implement our strategy and to deal with other boats. Rules are the U.S. Sailing Rules, and the Sailing Instructions of a particular race. These are the rules of the game, We all have to follow the same rules to be playing the same game.

1.3 The Pyramid

Tactics lie at the top of the racing pyramid. Beneath Tactics lies Boat Speed. Below Boat Speed lies Boat Handling. In order to race successfully you must work your way up the Pyramid. To race successfully your boat handling must be second nature, and you boat speed second to none. Tactics can help you come out on top in your neighborhood. Your neighborhood is determined by your boat handling and boat speed. In this book we assume your boat handling and boat speed are competitive. For more on Boat Handling and Boat Speed refer to the companion volume, Performance Racing Trim.

1.4 Performance Analysis

So, how are your skills? The Performance Analysis presented here is intended to help you look at your own racing skills and focus on areas of strength and weakness.

You should think not only about your own skills but the overall skills on the boat you race. If you are a tactical king you need to team up with a boat speed druid and a boat handling wizard. Of course, if you race single handed you’ll need to be all these things!

1.5 Using this Book

Performance Racing Tactics is the most complete book on racing tactics. As such, the book covers a broad spectrum of topics, some of which you will find of more immediate interest than others. While the material in later sections builds on earlier chapters each chapter is written to stand alone, and can be read independently.


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