Expert tips for your winning strategy in 2018


Competitors at Monday nights’ PIC Coastal Classic race clinic had one key takeaway point: it won’t be easy. More than 100 competitors turned up to hear from experts of the race and what they think will be the winning strategy for the 36th Great Race North.

From Nick Olsen of PredictWind:

  • Your best forecast is your most recent forecast.

  • All of PredictWind’s forecast models will be updated shortly after 8am on the morning of the race – that is the best one to check as you head to the start line.

  • Reference the wind observations throughout the day, check what’s happening up the coast ahead of you.

At the time of the clinic, the wind for the race was looking to be an easterly, and going lighter as it moves toward the north through Friday evening.

From Bob Jenner of the Coastguard:

  • Check your radios work

  • When you call the coastguard, be sure to be on the right channel for that area, and identify yourself as part of this event by saying COASTAL CLASSIC before your boat name and sail number

  • Remember to keep your microphone shielded from the wind as you speak into it

From Craig McMillan of B&G :

  • There are four fundamental pieces of information that you need for rational decision making on the water, because more races are won on wind shifts than any other factor:

  • Where am I going? – Your Heading (position and route)

  • How fast am I going? – Boat Speed

  • How hard is it blowing? – True Wind Speed

  • Where is it coming from? – True Wind Direction

  • If you’re racing downwind at 7kn of boat speed, and you see a 10 degree shift that your competitor doesn’t, this can be worth 9 minutes on a 2 mile leg

  • A good True Wind direction solution is the holy grail of any integrated instrument system and is the primary goal of the calibration process.

  • Do a sanity check on your instrument calibration before the start by checking boat speed and heading against GPS. Do several tack to tack comparisons on wind angle to make sure that your masthead unit is correctly aligned. This will give you confidence in your instruments.

  • Confidence in the decisions you make are based on the numbers you’re given on your instruments, so take care of your instruments.

  • B&G have been making sailing instruments for over 60 years, building on more experience than anybody else. They offer high quality, reliable and accurate solutions proven in extreme conditions such as the Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe.

From Dan Slater of The Watershed:

  • With a tide change right at the start of the race, the incoming tide could make it difficult to get out of the harbour. Observe the navigation buoys in the starting area and note that the tide will change around the shorelines (near North Head) first.

  • If it’s an easterly, as soon as you get around North Head, its best to lay straight through, stay out of the shipping channel by going up the Takapuna side, then use the easterly to get yourself out to sea.

  • It’s worth going outside of Tiri only if there is heaps of tide against you, or if the wind has gone north early.

  • Faster boats are best to do the Rhumb line, slower boats will want to sail above the Rhumb line so they can come down if or when the breeze goes north.

  • If the wind goes to the north and gets lighter, the worst place to be is tacking up the coastline. If you’re out at sea, it’s easier to bear away down to the Brett. Usually it lightens up through the night, so the height won’t hurt.

Wrapping up the evening with another couple points was Matthew Flynn:

  • Spend some time with all of your crew looking at paper charts, it all starts to look the same at night so make sure everybody has a good understanding of where they are.

  • If it’s an easterly and you need to retire from the race for any reason, remember that there are not many places that are protected from an easterly between Whangarei and Cape Brett.

  • Keep the race media team updated with your news and pictures from the race course!

  • It could be a long night, so keep everybody hydrated, warm, rested and put safety first.

One thing is for sure – this coastline is epic and promises a new adventure every time.


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