By Adam Loory
Here is a recount of a good start I pulled off at the Governor’s Cup of Western Long Island Sound. The starting line was heavily skewed with the starboard end very favored. Everyone wanted to start next to the committee boat and many boats were early trying to get there. With two boat lengths to go, we were about 10 seconds early, so were others on our leeward bow.
They bore away to keep from going over the line; but, with the line so skewed, as they turned bow down they got closer to being over early. They nearly had to make a 90-degree turn to run parallel to the line. The more they bore away, the faster they went in the wrong direction.
Instead of following the pack, I headed up toward the committee boat giving us more space to burn off the extra time. Also, by heading up into the wind, we slowed down as the clock ticked down.
Luckily, there were no other boats above us; which allowed me to turn past head to wind without fouling any boats. At the gun, we fell off onto starboard tack right at the committee boat and won the start. The boats that turned down below us ended up behind and to leeward. Attached is picture of us getting up to speed after the gun.
Remember, not all starting lines are set square to the wind. The easiest way to know which end of the line is favored is to sail to the middle of the line and head straight into the wind. Your bow will point to the side of the line that is farther upwind. Starting at the favored end puts you ahead and in clear air.
Also, if you have your radio on and can hear the signal and mark boats talking to each other, you might hear the PRO tell the pin to “square plus five” purposefully skewing the line to keep the boats off away from the signal boat.
Regardless of how you start, always keep your options open. Have the leeward jib trimmer provide feedback to leeward because that’s the position with best leeward/forward visibility. Conversely, have the main trimmer, sitting to windward beside the helm and tactician keep an eye to windward. More input…more options…more victories.