Sailing Tip From the Top – The Warm Up

Race morning. Sun’s out, a nice breeze is predicted and filling in, everyone’s excited and ready to go. So… this is the time to leave the dock and go WARM UP! Sailing is one of the few sports where only a small percentage of the athletes (yes, you are an athlete!) actually warm-up before the start of the first race. I promise you, it’s well worth your team’s while to dock out an extra 30-45 minutes early and get warmed up.
I’m sure you’ve seen the top teams out before the starting sequence sailing upwind, doing multiple tacks, then setting the Spinnaker and running through multiple gybes. There are two main reasons for this. One, they are checking wind speeds and direction, currents, boat speed, sail selection, etc… And two, they are warming up their bodies and minds so that when the start gun sounds they’re not “cold”. No matter how many times we’ve hit the race course, we ALL need to get ourselves mentally and physically into “race mode”.
Another often overlooked area where warming up helps is boat prep. Too many times people rig the boat while half asleep or distracted. It’s easy to do as we’ve done it a thousand times, but sometimes we simply mess up. Things to check; did the bowman have a late night and not run the sheets correctly, are the kites packed right, are both leads in the right spot for the chosen sail, is a crewmember in an unfamiliar position? These might all seem like simple mistakes, and they are, but they can also be quite costly. Remember, there is absolutely nothing wrong having more than one person double-check sheet leads, etc… Better to work out the bugs before, rather than during, the race. There is nothing worse than rounding the top mark well placed, kite goes up and then you notice the spin sheet is trapped between the lifelines! Talk about having a few choice words muttered your way.
The above may add an extra 30-45 minutes to your day, but you’ll hit the start line firing on all cylinders, and the crew will begin to appreciate the effort when you start subtracting some valuable points from your scoreline.
There’s a classic saying that rings true, “I’m glad we got that one out of the way”. And that my friends, is exactly what warming up is all about.
Sail fast!

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