Laser Sailing: Sailing Backwards on the Start Line

– [Narrator] Here’s our
guide to sailing backwards, another key skill for
mastering great starts. (soft music) Sailing backwards is useful for backing out of a hole that’s closing down, of if you’ve slipped too far towards the boat to lure it, you can then position up the line back into the same hole, or find another option somewhere else. So you can see the middle boat here, he’s slipping down to lure it, and he decides ah that’s
not going to work, so he backs out, and now he can reposition
between the two boats in a more favorable position
up tight to the windward boat. So now he’s set up for
a much better start. This skill can be quite
useful if you advance too close to the line too
early in the sequence, sailing backwards allows you to reset from a better position. Before backing up, it’s
pretty useful to know how to actually stop your
boat and one great way is just to coast to a stop
with your boat head to wind so it’s good to calibrate how much distance you’ll need to stop, which will be different for
flatware wave conditions. Another way is to actually back your sail and you do that by
pushing out on the boom, making sure that your main sheet’s free. From there, you can begin to back up. Once you’ve stopped your
boat get head to wind or close to head to
wind, put your sail out and get into a nice body
position up one knee and if you face backwards,
it helps so that you can see other boats and also
avoid steering confusion. Your steering’s gonna be backwards
if you’re facing forward. Once you push your boom
out, the sail will wanna tip the boat over to windward so
you need to get your weight to lure to counteract that. If the force becomes too much, you can just let go of the sail. So a good way to practice
sailing backwards is to do it over a long duration
of time in the beginning so just sail backwards
without losing control for as long as you can. If the boat feels like it wants to capsize or it wants to tack, you
can just let the sail come into the center of the
boat and just keep steering. It’ll help you regain control
and then you can push the boom back out as needed to
get more backward speed. So this is a good drill
just to get the feel of sailing backward. The further you push the boom out, the faster the boat will travel. Here’s how to execute
this on the start line. First, make sure your
boat is head to wind. Ensure your tiller is centered
or slightly to windward. Once you have flow,
you can push the tiller to lure more aggressively
to turn back onto close haul while moving up the line. One of the most common mistakes
when trying to initiate sailing backwards is having
your tiller too far to lure, so if you have your tiller to lure and you push the boom out,
basically the boat will just swivel back down onto close haul so that could be useful sometimes too but if you’re trying to
get backward momentum, the tiller needs to be in
the center or up to windward. So here we can see the sailer
in the middle getting shut out of his hole and he’s
able to sail backwards, he pushes his tiller down to
lure and then that allows him to swivel onto close haul and then with a quick shoot
up, he’s able to slide right up tight to the boat to windward. Now he’s in a much better
position to accelerate. And see how the boat to
lure does a nice shoot and ends up shutting down
the hole of the middle boat once again, so first he shoots
straight up head to wind, tiller to windward, pushes
the boom out, wait to lure, pushes the tiller down to lure, swivels on to close haul, quick shoot, and now he’s got control
of the windward boat and he’s able to have a
nice hole to accelerate into at the start. Practice sailing backwards
and you’ll open up a lot more options and increase the
consistency of your starts. For more tips like these, visit or book a starting clinic with us down in sunny Porto Vallerta.

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