I love racing yachts. For me it’s a great excuse to get out on the water. Not being a super competitive person, it doesn’t really worry me either way if we win or lose, but I do enjoy trying our best, but not at the expense of having a good time, a few beers and catch up with the crew.
There is something beautiful about a boat being sailed well with a crew who are in tune with both the boat and each other. When things happen smoothly, the kite goes up, gets gybed and taken down without incident, everyone anticipates what is about to happen and their individual part to play in whatever manoeuvre the boat needs to perform and when the wind is juuuuuust right. Ahhh it’s lovely…!
BUT then along comes another boat… It happens a lot in racing… The smaller trailer yachts start 5 minutes before us, and so for the rest of the race we chase them down and try to pass them one by one.
The international collision regulations are designed to keep boats apart. The racing rules of sailing are designed to allow boats to sail close together but there are certain rules to say who has right of way in various situations. There are LOTS of rules, and it is only fair on your fellow competitors that you actually know the rules (and preferably interpret them the same way!)
However in my experience I find that it is the person who yells in the most convincing and authoritive manner who usually gets right of way.
For example. When you are rounding a mark, if there is an overlap (ie the boat behind has their bow in front of your stern) within 2 boat lengths of the mark (is that my boat length or their boat length???) then they have got “buoy room”
This means that you need to give them space to round the mark.
However if you take the “who yells loudest has right of way” attitude, and someone yells “buoy room!” At you. If you are a girl like me you can yell back “Girl room!!!” And see what perplexed looks you get.
Try and sound as convincing as possible.
There are other ways to gauge who is or isn’t going to succumb to your trickery though…
Having a very sexy new boat wrap on your boat means you are more likely to give way when you might not need to do so…
Likewise if you have a very menacing sharp looking anchor on the bow you might find others giving way to you.
If you have a reputation for crashing in to people and deliberately ignoring the rules then you might find people give way on the water, but also give you a black eye in the club rooms later on.
Ahhh it’s all good fun! It’s just another aspect of what makes sailing such an interesting and challenging sport.
Now where is my rule book…?