Saturday, January 14, 2006

Getting Started

Here are few tips to get you started on the match racing circuit and maybe climb high in the rankings. As with everything else, you have to start small. First, try to get an invitation to a Grade 5 or 4 event. At this level you will gain experience, while enjoying a solid competition. At most Grade 4 events there will be at least one good team from top 200s in the ISAF rankings, allowing you to get a feeling of how good teams function. If you can't find any events in your region, you can try to organize one yourself. Simply try to get several teams together and follow the guidelines and use the standard NOR available at ISAF web site. You can even try to get a grade from ISAF for such an event. After participating for a while at this level you can start to taste the Grade 3 level depending on your performance. Be aware; starting with Grade 3 the competition will become much more tough. You will definitely need a solid crew to be successful at this level and probably more time commitment for on and off-water training.
Success comes with training and experience. Match racing is no exception. You have to train and participate in order to be successful. Don't give up if you get bad results at the beginning. In match racing you need lots of experience to make good decisions in split-second situations, especially during pre-start. Focus your on-water training to communication on the boat and boat handling. Although people speak mostly of skippers, match racing is all about team work. Off water training should focus on rules and their strategic use plus pre-start strategies. Consult the match racing call book at ISAF web site for tricky situations. Finally you can use computer simulators to keep conceptually fit during cold winter days. For this purpose check Virtual Spectator 4; a sailing simulator both for match racing and fleet racing that has a strong user community.

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