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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:29 pm 
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Ok, so I'm a decent sailor and have a hobie 16. I'd really like to try to participate in a few regattas this year. They look like a lot of fun but I really have no experience racing. What do I need to do to get started? What's the best way to learn the ropes?

Yes, I realize I'm going to need to spend a small fortune on new sails, rudders, rigging etc. to get my old boat semi-competitive but I'd like to give this a try a few times before I go that far.

Advice? Suggestions? Are some regattas less "serious" than others?

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:47 pm 
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Not sure what part of NC your in, but check out the EMSA website. Most of the regattas are all pretty laid back, and most everyone is very helpful.

To get started, sign up for one. Bring a life jacket, your boat and a watch with a timer and have at it. My first couple races I started 200 feet behind everyone else and followed until I thought I had a good idea on how things run. Try to read up and get an idea on the signals the race committee might put up.

Its REALLY helpful if you can ride with someone with experience or have that person take you out.

There is a race called the Pee Dee classic in Hartsville SC in March. Its pretty laid back and is a great excuse to go sailing early in the year. The water will be warm as the Nuke plant keeps it that way.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:54 pm 
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Do you have an active local fleet, and are you a member? The best thing you can do is get in touch with your local fleet or division and tell them that you're interested in starting racing. If the fleet has active racers, they will almost certainly be more than happy to give you tons of advice and answer any questions you have. They'll also be more than willing to help you rig and tune your boat.

Otherwise, the best thing to do is just go to a race. Local fleet races or yacht club races are usually the most low-key ways to learn. Hobie divisional regattas will typically have racers of all levels. Let people know that you're just beginning, ask lots of questions and you will learn the rest as you go.

The last bit of advice is to recognize that it takes a LONG time to become competent at racing. For your first several races/regattas, simply making it all the way around the course before the race committee starts the next race will be a major accomplishment. Take it all in stride and understand that everyone on the course has been in the same place at one time.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:17 pm 
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Hey Bacho. I'm in Raleigh and my folks live on the water near Wilmington. I grew up sailing an 18 in salt water (sound & ocean) for fun. Never really tried lake sailing a hobie until last year. I've talked to a few folks around here and know about the EMSA but they seem to fall into one of three categories.

- A-Cats/F16/F18 - too serious and way out of my price range!
- Local Isotope fleet - Great folks, super helpful, but wrong boat
- Carolina Sailing Club - again great folks but mostly monos

The NC Hobie fleets appear to have been merged with EMSA or disbanded. Does anyone still race 16's around here?

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:34 pm 
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GD_NC wrote:
- A-Cats/F16/F18 - too serious and way out of my price range!


Its true that EMSA is mostly the boats listed. However this is usually not a problem at all. We still have several Hobie 18's and Hobie 16's that race with us as well. Do not be intimidated by racing much faster boats. Its not all that too serious. Its competitive, but we are all there to have fun.

Last May I took my Hobie 18 out against the EMSA fleet on lake Keowee for my first regatta. I had never even heard of half the boats there, but at the end of the week-end we took home the trophy for the non-spin class (99.9% to do with my crew). I gave it my best effort to learn, I never felt that one person ever looked "down" on my 18. I highly encourage you to try it.

Loyd Graves lives in Raliegh and sails with us. Look him up on Facebook. If he has the time, I am sure he would be willing to help out in some way.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:25 am 
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I'm with Bacho. Just go out and sail with the EMSA guys. They'll surely have a Portsmouth class with some boats you can reasonably match up against. Also, read, read, read everything you can get your hands on regarding cat racing and racing in general. PM me and I can send you some PDFs.

18 months ago I entered my first CRAM regatta and absolutely fell in love with cat sailing. The group has been hugely supportive. Now I just have to deal with the spinnaker envy. These guys have been like crack dealers, lending me their boat for a few hours... "hey Jeff - why don't you try a little dose of this..."

Bottom line is that getting out of the comfort zone and just doing it is absolutely the right way to go.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:07 pm 
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Quote:
Are some regattas less "serious" than others?


Echoing above question. How much do organizers tolerate "wanderers" -- those who just sail in the area but don't race? Was told it was ok, but don't believe it.

Organizers don't communicate HOW they cater to the "B fleet" so I assume they don't. That's a terrible way to break in both new cat sailors and new racers.

If you want racing tactics stuff, GD, you get Rick White's DVDs or books.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:41 pm 
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JJ wrote:
Quote:
Are some regattas less "serious" than others?


Echoing above question. How much do organizers tolerate "wanderers" -- those who just sail in the area but don't race? Was told it was ok, but don't believe it.

Organizers don't communicate HOW they cater to the "B fleet" so I assume they don't. That's a terrible way to break in both new cat sailors and new racers.


Wanderers? As in not sailing around the course (marks)? I would suggest if you're not even going to make an attempt to sail around the course then you would be better of sailing somewhere off of the race course. There is a lot of boat traffic on the course and if you're going "against the grain" you're likely to inadvertently get in the way of the folks that are racing. You'd have a more enjoyable time away from the traffic as well. Regardless, there are rules of the road that apply to all boats, so you've got just as much right to sail on the course as anyone else, so it's not to say that you can't sail there, but buzzing back and forth across the race area and getting in the way of people racing is not going to make anyone happy.

Now if you're interested in actually racing (starting and sailing around the course) then by all means get in there and go for it. Let the organizers know that you're a novice when you sign up and they will almost certainly make allowances for you (either a separate B fleet start or a shortened course for B fleet). Of course I wouldn't suggest doing this at a Nationals event, but for local fleet and divisional races, B fleeters and casual racers are always encouraged to attend (in my experience). The sport is way too small to be turning anyone away.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Quote:
Wanderers? As in not sailing around the course (marks)? I would suggest if you're not even going to make an attempt to sail around the course then you would be better of sailing somewhere off of the race course. There is a lot of boat traffic on the course and if you're going "against the grain" you're likely to inadvertently get in the way of the folks that are racing. You'd have a more enjoyable time away from the traffic as well. Regardless, there are rules of the road that apply to all boats, so you've got just as much right to sail on the course as anyone else, so it's not to say that you can't sail there, but buzzing back and forth across the race area and getting in the way of people racing is not going to make anyone happy.
Got me grinning on the above response, srm. OK, let me specify that I am assuming that only adults would be sailing and that there would be enough civility practiced that one would know not to rocket in and out among serious racers... Let's establish that first. What I am talking about are those who don't sail the course, who might sail in places away from the course and out of the way, but take part in other regatta activities on land...

Quote:
Let the organizers know that you're a novice when you sign up and they will almost certainly make allowances for you (either a separate B fleet start or a shortened course for B fleet). Of course I wouldn't suggest doing this at a Nationals event, but for local fleet and divisional races, B fleeters and casual racers are always encouraged to attend (in my experience). The sport is way too small to be turning anyone away.
I have not seen B fleeters and casual racers encouraged to come to regattas. Post some examples and prove me wrong...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:41 pm 
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JJ - if you want an example, check the Division 10 post I just made 2 minutes ago (ironically I made it before reading your last post).

We are very serious about welcoming and encouraging new sailors. CRAM leadership recognizes that the current balance of membership is top-heavy, with no base to support further growth.

However, they are totally open to new sailors that are willing to take the first step. I was a green newbie 18 months ago, and have been very pleasantly surprised by the level of support and encouragement I've received. I had many "bull in the china shop" starts, and outside of a few friendly jokes over beers later, there has been nothing but positive support.

I can't speak for the EMSA guys because haven't met or sailed with a single one, but if they are anything like our group, you should have zero issues.

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'88 H18 Jolly Mon
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Sail Michigan's Great Lakes in 2014
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Last edited by rehmbo on Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:59 pm 
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JJ wrote:
What I am talking about are those who don't sail the course, who might sail in places away from the course and out of the way, but take part in other regatta activities on land...


I wouldn't see anything wrong with this. In fact, back in the day, when regattas were real big and had lots of giveaways like tee shirts, dinners, raffle tickets, and goodie bags, people would sign up for regattas without even having a boat just to get all the stuff.

Quote:
I have not seen B fleeters and casual racers encouraged to come to regattas. Post some examples and prove me wrong...


What type of encouragement are you looking for? In my Division, B fleet, and novice sailors have always been encouraged to attend (plus youth and women teams). The B fleet is way smaller than it was 10 or 15 years ago, but there always seems to be at least a few new faces learning the ropes.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:18 am 
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Well, its hard to call it a B "fleet". In our group the amount of novice that usually shows up is less than 2, including myself. In some regattas when I was on a H18 I along with the other novice got a shorter course but the same start. Unless there is a fleet of one type of boat, I would rather be in the same open class on the same course. That way I can see my progress compared to everyone else.

There have been days with EMSA that I was unable to complete the race before the next one starts. This has never been a problem, I would prefer to DNF the race and try to make the next start in that case. There have been days when my crew and I were uncomfortable with the amount of wind or were playing with a new spin so we just went sailing on our own. (well away from the course) Again, never a problem. This is about having fun above all.

If you want to go to a regatta and decide to just sail around, and not be involved in the racing. The only thing I would suggest it to stay within sight or let the RC know just so they know where to try looking for you if the need arises.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:15 pm 
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Good discussion here, and I just want to interject a little of my perspective. Gone are the days when you had hundreds of boats show up at regattas, A-B-C fleets, and tons of dealer/manufacturer support. The guys running local regattas these days are mostly regular Joes, just like the folks on this forum, who have full time jobs but are enthusiastic enough about the sport to pour their volunteer time into the many exhausting details it takes to pull one off. They arrange for food, trophies, T-shrts (sunk costs), never knowing if the weather will be crap and no one show up. So while I agree that breaking into the racing scene is a little daunting, I don't fault these volunteer organizers for a lack of outreach.

Unless they're hosting a national/regional event, every place I've raced has been fairly laid-back and welcoming to newbies. I would say that normally half the attendees are less experienced. (But that doesn't mean there will necessarily be a B fleet; there have to be significant numbers....hopefully preregistered/precommitted to justify the additional trophies, starts, etc.).

Contact the organizers ahead of time, and I'll bet you'll get taken care of. Or try to crew the first time with someone who's already experienced. Can always daysail as described above if racing isn't your thing that day.

I've been to lots of regattas....more/less serious, good/bad weather, high/low wind, lake/gulf, won/finished last, etc., etc., but I ALWAYS had a good time because I had the right attitude. I prepare as best I can, I keep my expectations reasonable with regard to my abilities, weather, regatta perks, etc., I meet new/cool sailing friends, I try to help others, I always thank the organizers/RC for their efforts, and I have lots of beer.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:20 pm 
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I agree with what everyone here is saying. I had never really sailed much when I got my boat last summer. Posting on here I met some people, and when I started asking about racing, they put me on a race committee boat for a regatta. In my mind, that was the best thing they could have done. I learned soooo much that day, just by asking and watching. The folks were great. I hope to crew with someone for one race this spring, and from there I will bring my own boat and give it a try. I know my boat is old and uncompetitive, but just being able to compete will be a blast. It will also let me know if I am ready/when I am ready to start spending some money to get more competitive.

I actually had a blast on the race committee boat.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:27 pm 
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You were a lucky one too, Steve. You got to learn from one of the masters.

I'm looking forward to sailing with you this summer. Sorry I don't have a 16. Maybe I can borrow one?? Better yet, maybe you can find an 18?

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'88 H18 Jolly Mon
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Sail Michigan's Great Lakes in 2014
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