Why (and How) You Should Race Your Cruising Boat

A good day to be pushed downwind on a non-spin. Peter Burgard's O'Day. Photo: Chris Smith

A good day to be pushed downwind on a non-spin. Peter Burgard’s O’Day. Photo: Chris Smith

Sometimes it seems as if cruisers and racers are different breeds. One values comfort and a cocktail at anchor while the other wants screeching heel angles and screaming mark roundings. But some of us think both things are a kick and would like to see more cruisers try racing. But how? And (of course) why?

Sail magazine is offering excellent information on sailboat racing for cruisers, including an explanation of “why” that boils down to:

  1. It’s fun.
  2. It makes you a better sailor.

Scuttlebutt‘s Craig Leweck says he tells people that, “To race is only to ‘sail with a purpose.’ Much like most forms of exercise, you begin with a plan to test yourself, and racing is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to assess one’s sailing skills.”

Sail magazine takes it from there, quoting renowned naval architect and yachtsman Uffa Fox, saying “Once you race every fault is pointed out in the way other boats sail away from you, and when you do anything well this too is revealed as you start sailing away from the rest of the fleet.”

Here’s a link to that excellent Sail magazine introduction to racing for cruisers.

AYC offers several entry-level races for cruisers who want to try out racing. There are “pursuit” races (see the Sail article for an explanation), typically the Governor’s Cup and the Tall Cactus. Boats start in reverse order of their PHRF rating (yes, see Sail article) so the start is simple and uncrowded. Then it’s just a matter of sailing the course as fast as you can.

The other opportunity is the “TransLoch” series (named by Tom Errickson), which is a low-pressure, longer-distance race around Lake Pleasant conducted at the same time as the buoy races for the fall and spring series and at the annual Birthday Regatta.

What do you say?

A featured picture from Sail magazine. They stress that the most important thing in racing is to have fun. Photo: Cate Brown

A featured picture from Sail magazine. They stress that the most important thing in racing is to have fun. Photo: Cate Brown