Golden Rules of Racing – can you add any more?
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Golden Rules of Racing – can you add any more?

Golden Rules of Racing – can you add any more?

Gathered by Nicky Bethwaite over many years of competition


  • Minimize tacks
  • Clear air is priority
  • In light air always pick a side of the course to sail, avoid the middle
  • Default position at the top mark is a bear away set
  • Always have 1st leg plan
  • Read Sailing Instructions as a team together
  • Don’t over stand layline
  • Know your position relative to the rhumbline
  • Perfect your own job before you perfect someone else’s
  • Must be ruthless on minimizing losses, every half boat length adds up in placement at top mark


  • If you want to go right, start on the right
  • If you want to go left, start on the left
  • Never tack off a reach (lose too much in sideways movement)
  • On a line with strong port tack bias, approach deep on starboard so as to minimise speed loss in tack
  • In light air last 30sec sail your own boat
  • Make hole to leeward
  • In light air, assume starboard approach 1-2 mins before start
  • In medium air, get onto stbd 30-45s before start, no later


  • Do less tacks than the opposition
  • Always sail longest tack first. Gets you in phase and doesn’t allow opposition to get in control up the track.
  • If in doubt stay between your opposition and the next mark
  • There are usually only one or two shifts per leg
  • In light air go for speed to the next shift or pressure band rather than sail high (usually more oscillations in light air)
  • Look up the track and anticipate what the likely outcome of your actions will be, and then react accordingly before you are forced to.
  • In crossing situations make sure your actions affect the other boat.
  • Quickly assess if there is an opportunity to consolidate a gain off the start line (or minimize a loss)
  • Look for the first shift.
  • Learn to stay on the weather hip of the leading boat, this needs practice, crew working very hard and helmsman steering very accurately.
  • “Each crew member must have pride in what he/she is doing. Must want to be the best”
  • Good trimmers get more pleasure out of trimming a bad sail and making it look good than trimming a good looking sail.
  • Start to leeward of a bunch in under 12kts
  • Tack on other boat’s line do not cross and then tack


  • Sail the longest gybe first
  • At the top mark, do a bear-away set unless there is a very good reason not to
  • Minimum crosses of the boat behind
  • Look at windex of leeward boat not your own
  • Tidy roundings make big gains
  • Light air top mark roundings keep speed on by sailing high till kite set
  • Be aware of what a bunch does to the wind at the top mark
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