Ronnie Duncan (Dinghy & Powerboat Instructor)
The training team at Kinghorn Sailing Club has put together answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in this section of the website, speak to any member of the training team, which includes:
Roy Henderson (Principal)
Craig Lonie (Dinghy Instructor)
Gerry Lipton (Powerboat Instructor)
Questions and answers:
Why does my boat rock from side to side on the run, sometimes leading to a capsize?
This is a very common problem but the good news is it's easy to sort out. The rocking or oscillations you experience are caused by part or all of the sail being allowed to go forward of the mast (between the mast and the bow). Without going into a technical description, the general rule is that the more of the sail you have forward of the mast, the more unstable the boat will become. The solution is to pull in the mainsheet until most - if not all - of the sail is just behind the mast and no more (between the mast and the stern). If oscillations continue, you may need to think about pulling on some kicking strap (also known as the vang). When this is loose, it can twist forward of the mast and increase the chances of the boat becoming unstable.
How do I get a good start in a race?
Listen for the two-minute whistle (Kinghorn Sailing Club start sequence) and set your watch to countdown. Keep checking your watch, even if it gives you audible warnings during countdown, as it's easy run out of time before you're ready.
Try to avoid being too far to the right or left of the start line, particularly in the final minute when boats are queuing up to start, and don't stray too far from the line, especially in light winds.
In that final minute, it's important for you to be in the front row of boats queued up for the line - in other words, there should be no boats blocking your path to the line. If you have boats ahead of you, they will get most of the wind and you will almost certainly have a very poor start which is likely to lead to an equally poor result.
Aim to be on starboard and three to four boat lengths behind the line with 45 seconds to go but, if it looks like boats are lining up closer than that, then you will need to go with them.
Using the mainsheet, control your speed so that you keep your boat creeping forward, incredibly slowly in the final 45 seconds - most of the sail shouldbe flapping as you control your speed.
As the countdown reaches five seconds, you should be a single boat length from the line. Pull in the mainsheet and try to accelerate onto a beat as quicklyas you can. Hopefully, you will cross the line just after the whistle.
The key to making this work is to practise. Find a buoy out on the race course and pretend that's the starting buoy at the port or starboard end of the line. Set your watch for one or two minutes and see if you can hold your position on the "line" before accelerating and crossing it at full speed justafter the starting signal.
If you are nervous about getting in amongst boats at the start because you don't know the rules then pick up a rule book, which will make it clear what rights you have on the line.
Speak to any member of the training team if you have any queries.
What is Kinghorn Sailing Club's start sequence?
- Lots of short sharp blasts on the whistle indicate the starting sequence is about to begin.
- Two blasts of the whistle and two flags raised aloft mean the two-minute countdown to the start has begun (-2 minutes).
- One minute later a single blast of the whistle and just one flag being displayed indicates there is a minute to go (-1 minute) before the start.
- The start itself (0 minutes) is signified by a final blast of the whistle and the remaining flag being lowered. However, if any of the boats are over the line once the whistle has been blown, another whistle will sound and the flag will remain up until the boats which were over the line have returned to start properly.