Develop a Pre-Race Routine

Sailing To Win - Brett Bowden
3 min readMar 2, 2023

“Every Battle is Won before it is fought”. SUN TZU, Philosopher, CHINESE GENERAL and MILITARY STRATEGIST and in sailing that means develop a Pre-Race routine.

Success in sailboat racing is based on many factors — better mental and physical preparation, reliable equipment, making better decisions and having perfect execution.


Before Leaving The Beach or Mooring

Get your mind, body, and boat ready to race.

— Check the notice board for any changes to SIs or start time.

— Check the weather forecast, and that includes expected wind velocity, direction and trends.

— Tune your rig for expected conditions.

— Pick the sails that will be most effective for the expected wind.

— Check your boat for common issues that you have experienced in the past.

— Warm up your body, using stretches that are necessary for the type of sailing you do.

— Organise a fellow competitor to line up with to do speed checks.


Heading Out To The Course

— Get out to the course at least 45 minutes prior to the start time.

— Check all on board systems again, tidy the boat and adjust things like swinging straps.

— Take note of the wind and wave conditions and set up accordingly.

— Get on to the course proper and note whether the wind is oscillating, there is a persistent shift or a combination of both.

— Work out whether there is a favoured side of the course, current and whether the course orientation will take you towards land or other obstacles that will influence the wind.

— Work out and record the mean wind on each tack.

— If you are sailing in waves, set the boat up on each tack according to the angle you will be striking them on each tack.

Plan A Race Strategy

— Work out a strategy for the first work

— Determine which end of the line and where on the line you would set up on.

— Think about the boats that you need to be aware of and plan accordingly.


Relax and get Your Head in The Game

— Have a snack and a drink to get fully hydrated

— Stow all gear.

— Set the race timer and start observing how and where other boats are setting up.

— Check the wind direction often to make sure that nothing has changed and that your strategy does not need changing.

— Work on your time and distance and acceleration techniques in preparation for the start.

— If you don’t have the benefit of distance from the line instruments, establish transits so you will be right on the line at full speed when the gun goes.

— Visually locate the windward mark.

— Say either on the line or to windward of the line, all the time looking upwind for clues about what may happen at start time.

— With 2–3 minutes to the start, set all sail controls for the conditions you are experiencing.



Sailing To Win - Brett Bowden

Brett Bowden is an author, entrepreneur, business broker, and yachtsman.