Pursuit Racing: A Great Way to Start

I’ve long suspected there are a lot of sailors out there who would love to give racing a try, but don’t for two reasons: 1) they’re worried about trading gelcoat with someone during the controlled chaos that is a conventional starting sequence, and 2) they’re turned off by having to correct their finish time after the racing is done.
Author:
Publish date:
pursuitstart

I’ve long suspected there are a lot of sailors out there who would love to give racing a try, but don’t for two reasons: 1) they’re worried about trading gelcoat with someone during the controlled chaos that is a conventional starting sequence, and 2) they’re turned off by having to correct their finish time after the racing is done. (There’s nothing more disheartening than sailing a great race only to find out you were pipped at the post by some guy with a better rating!) Both these problems disappear, though, in a “pursuit” race. In this format, boats receive staggered start times based on their PHRF ratings, i.e. the slower boats start first, followed by faster and faster boats, with the scratch boat starting last. This eliminates all those crowds at the start. It also makes crystal clear how you’re doing against the competition: the first boat to the finish wins, simple as that.

Purists might argue that this approach doesn’t require the finely honed skills that must be employed to prevail in a conventional start. But while pursuit starts may not be appropriate for the Olympics, anybody who says pursuit racing is uncompetitive would be dead wrong. There’s nothing like watching some guy with 10 feet more LOA walking up on you from astern to get you tweaking those control lines. It’s the same thing if you’re the one with the extra LOA trying to reel in those little guys as you all drive for the finish at the same time trying to get that gun. 

Another good reason to try pursuit racing is that it can be done without a race committee. Here in Boston we run what we call a “rogue” series after the regular Wednesday series ends in the fall. Everybody gets a start time in advance and the line is preset using fixed nav aids. Just before the start, someone decides the course we’re going to sail and then everybody is off and running—that’s it. 

Try it sometime, and when you do, don’t forget to bring along your non-racing friends. You might be surprised at the results! 

Photo by Blake Jackson

Related

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more

leadphoto

Know How: Dinghy Modification

The rigmarole of stretching a cover over a dinghy in choppy water prior to hoisting it on davits can become a very wet business if you’re not careful. Leaning right over either end, trying to stretch a cover over the bow and stern pods can quite easily result in a head-first dip ...read more

25980

Catnapped Aboard a Racing Multihull

It was after midnight when I realized my daysail with Tony Bullimore aboard his giant record-breaking catamaran, Team Legato, was not going to plan. The big cat was en route for a December dash from England across the Bay of Biscay to Barcelona and the start of a drag race ...read more