All Roads lead to Long Beach
First Time at the Nationals
By Andrew Kerr
For some teams this will be their first time at the Nationals or doing a long road trip to a big event. Here are a few tips that can help the time and experience is as best as possible for the team.
What to Bring
There is a whole host of things you can bring but let’s highlight some (and I emphasize some) of the more important things:
2013 Racing Rules of Sailing
Cleaning supplies – don’t forget to bring your own hose nozzle, sponge, and bucket.
Electrical tape (e.g. Scotch 35) or white rigging tape
Full set of practice sails
Hawaiian shirts for the dinners
Lots of water and energy bars
Spare blocks, cleats, shackles, etc.
Tow Line (rarely needed but if you don’t bring one, Murphy’s Law says you will need it!)
VHF Radio – to hear Race Committee courtesy broadcasts & OCS hails. Don’t forget to charge it everyday
Wet notes book and pencil
Arrive as early as you can!
Try and allow time to get to the venue and relax. This way you can rig the boat slowly and methodically and go over the boat as a team. You can also meet other racers and go out for a nice dinner locally and get to know some other class members.
At the Hoist
Most likely there will be an experienced person operating the hoist at both launching at the beginning and retrieval at the end of the regatta.
In the unlikely event there isn’t somebody, do not hesitate to ask a regatta rep, any member of the board or an experienced local about keel placement and tips or to operate the hoist for you. Especially for teams who ramp launch an unfamiliar hoist can provide anxious moments – these are easily avoided.
This will be a very easy process. New sails will be measured; old sails with class stamps do not need measuring and your required and safety equipment will be checked. The class has tried (and succeeded) to make this as easy and stress free as possible. Make sure that your class measurement certificate is aboard (laminating it is a good idea). The class measurer will be able to help you with any of your questions.
Depending on your time available, aim to break your first session down in to two parts. First go out and practice nuts and bolts sailing – tacks, jibes, spinnaker sets and takedowns, and mark roundings – do all this with your practice sails.
Then take part in the practice races – take this time to tune with other boats before hand and make a note of wind headings in your note book. Get oriented to the race course.
When you come in – make a maintenance list and aim to get it all done before the boat is wrapped up for the night. On the morning of the regatta you want to be able to just go and focus on sailing.
When you read the sailing instructions make a point of reading them as a team so you are all on the same page.
The Skipper’s Meeting
Not sure about something – ask. This may help clarify things for everyone, don’t be embarrassed to sound unknowledgeable.
The Race Course
For those teams who haven’t sailed in big events there are a few things to look for:
Courtesy broadcasts from the race committee on the designated VHF channel. These may include announcements of the course, bearing to the weather mark and any social activities that are scheduled for the fleet afterwards. As a courtesy, the committee will also attempt to broadcast the bow or sail #’s (specified in the sailing instructions) of the boats OCS at the start.
Possibly an offset mark at the weather mark – when you round the weather mark you will sail for about 30 seconds on a reach and then round the offset mark to port. Remind the skipper about this if they are not used to this. If the wind shifts right enough you may be able to set the spinnaker.
Possibly gate marks: Two leeward marks – you can choose which one to round. Both the offset marks and leeward marks reduce fleet congestion and protests. The gate marks also present tactical opportunities that are not given by the use of one mark.
Post race Panel Discussions
The class is organizing panel discussions of the day’s racing – this is a great opportunity to ask questions and to share information. The class is very open with information, do not hesitate to share your experience or ask any questions.
One of the unique aspects of the Nationals is the making of new friendships and the renewal of old ones. This has kept a core group coming back for years. The opportunity to meet other 20 sailors from all over the country is a great one – ultimately, apart from the great sailing this is what you really get out of the sport when it is all said and done.
Take pictures – on the water and land, take pictures of other boats lay outs and don’t hesitate to ask about the pros and cons of a particular set up.
Spread the word!
If you have had a great time at the Long Beach Nationals (and we know you will!) spread the word to your local fleet and encourage them to come to future events. The Nationals is not to be missed!
The class will see you there – all roads will lead to Long Beach!