UK Yacht Charter – Beginners Guide to Yacht racing

If you fancy doing some Classic Yacht Racing in the Solent, but don’t know what’s involved then read our pointers below for some beginners guidance…

The Yacht

  • UK Yacht Charter - Beginners Guide to Yacht racingCheck everything is working smoothly – i.e. blocks, cleats, winches, halyards and reefing gear.
  • Remove whatever weight you can from your yacht, eg. fuel, water and equipment – the lighter you are the faster you are!
  • Ensure your hull is clean and smooth and reduce your windage.
  • If you are seriously going to race a lot, then consider a folding prop, this will have less drag than a fixed prop.
  • Make sure you have tell-tales fitted to your sails.

The Crew

  • Allocate a task to every crew member and stick to those jobs – you’ll need a Helm, Navigator, Sail trimmers and a timekeeper for the start of the race.
  • Plot your course on the GPS, take into account markers, tides, depths etc…

The Race

  • Allow plenty of time to spare in getting to the start line.
  • Listen to the Race Officer and understand exactly what the starting sequence will be – either flag or sound signals.
  • If you can, do a test run across the line to check wind direction and strength, and sail setting needed. Check the course and the sequence of marks and which side you need to round them.
  • Don’t get distracted by other boats around you – stay as near to the line as you can, but don’t let the tide carry you over!
  • Concentrate fully on your boats speed and trim your sails.
  • When you are beating sail the boat as flat as you can, too much turn on the heel will slow you down as you will have to apply more rudder
  • When you are reaching, sail the rhumb line.
  • Always be aware of the rest of the boats, you want clear air in your sails.
  • On the downwind leg you can maximise your speed and stay near the centre of the course.
  • Use binoculars to make sure you have the correct finish mark, decide on the favoured end of the finishing line whilst you are sailing downwind.
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