The start

You can’t win a yachting race at the start but you can definitely loose a race at the start.

Where to start

It is very difficult to be consistent on the starting line. There are a lot of variables and it is impossible to control them all. One of the most important things to decide before the race is where to start. In most situations one side of the starting line is closer to the wind then the other side of the start. If you’re competing in a regatta you need to be able to discover the best side of the line.

Most sailing races start with an upwind leg. In a perfect situation the starting line is 90 degrees to the wind. Unfortunately the wind hardly stays exactly from one direction. And besides that, not all the race comities are capable of placing the starting line correctly. This makes one side of the line favourite over the other side.

Turn the boat head to wind

There is an easy way to discover the favourite side of the line. Position yourself on the starting line and put your bow exactly head to wind. Your bow is head to wind when your boom is exactly in the middle of the boat. Now see if the bow of your boat is pointing more towards the left side of the starting line or the right side of the starting line. The side that the bow is closer to is the favourite side of the starting line in relation to the wind.

Use your compass

If you are using a compass on the boat you can calculate the favourite side. You need to measure two numbers to do so. Sail from the right hand side towards the left hand side of the starting line. Make sure you sail exactly over the line and then read the number on your compass. Remember this number. Then place your boat head to wind and measure the wind direction. The difference between the numbers tells you the favourite side of the line:

    Difference is 90 → line is even, no favourite side
    Difference less 90 → left side is favourite
    Difference more than 90 → right side is favourite

As said before you can’t win a yachting race at the start. But it will definitely help to start your race on the favourite side of the line.

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