Offshore Race Winning Tips

Posted on 9th January 2019

You don’t have to be trimming a sail to make the boat go faster!

Whilst good helming and proper sail trim will obviously improve the boat speed there are a number of things everyone on board can do to help play their part…. So see below for our top tips!

1. Eat well and be functional!
2. Travel Light
3. Use less water
4. Hike like you mean it!
5. Tidy boat = safe boat = happy boat
6. Eyes out

1. Eat Well and be functional.

“A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play” might be the advert – but NO human being can eat 10 Mars-bars in a weekend and expect to feel on top of their game mentally and physically. Offshore racing is challenging to both mind and body and you need to eat well to perform well. And even if you can get by without eating much for a weekend race – you cannot complete a 5 day Fastnet without proper food.

Most people feel LESS seasick if you never allow yourself to become hungry or thirsty. It’s when gastric juices start gurgling on an empty stomach that you start to feel ill.

So do your team a favour and eat a proper well-balanced hot meal early in the race. Sailing Logic provide top quality, easy-to-prepare pouched food in individual portions. If you have dietary requirements or team preferences, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate!

2. Travel Light. 

Excessive weight is real drag, and will slow the boat down. In light airs this will be even more noticeable and may even cause the boat to come to a complete stop! You should only bring with you:

Your sailing base layers, midlayer and waterproofs. Gloves, sunnies, hat & Kneepads.
A spare base layer
A sleeping bag – pillows are not welcome on offshore races!

Top Tips to minimise your kit

If there are any toiletries you just can’t live without, try to buy mini-travel sizes or decant them into small pots /tubes. For example – mini toothpastes, mini showergel, mini hand cream.

Ladies – don’t bring changes of knickers – instead use panty liners. Saves weight, space and makes life a lot easier!!

3. Use Water Carefully

To keep weight to a minimum and avoid having bags of rubbish cluttering up the boat, Sailing Logic will only provide one crate of bottled drinking water.  You should bring your Sailing Logic sports water bottles with you and you will need to REFILL these bottles from the water tanks / jerry cans.

Top Tip – when it is calm, refill the bottles!!! Trust us.

The less water you can use about the boat, the more is available for drinking…

Tips to use less water:

  • You can boil the food pouches in sea water
  • Eat directly from the food pouches to create less washing up
  • Wash up in sea water in bucket up on decks – only use on board water for a final rinse
  • Use the liquid-gel handwash instead of running water to wash your hands. 
  • Swig just a mouthful of water from a bottle when cleaning your teeth
  • Put the last inch of water in a waterbottle into the kettle rather than throwing it away

4. Hike like you mean it!

Hiking properly – with your bum off the deck and your body weight as far out as possible, and all sat close together at the beamiest part of the boat - will increase your boat speed by approx. 0.1 knot per person. This might not sound like much, but if there are 4 of you hiking properly that is an extra 0.4 knot boat speed. 

In 12 knots of breeze = an average upwind speed of 6.8 knots rather than 6.4 = over a 24 hour period this would gain you 9.6 miles or nearly 1.5hrs!

And if you are off-watch – you can still help the team effort by sleeping on the high side (& yes – that does mean you will need to get up from your bunk and swap sides after a tack!).

The more you weigh as an individual the more important it is that you hike properly – as weight in the wrong place is not only a lost opportunity, but is counter-productive.

Hiking = winning

5. Tidy boat = safe boat = happy boat

You may have noticed that after a few hours things aren’t where you left them, and you don’t want to spend your off-watch looking for a sock or worse, find yourself stepping on a knife in the dark.

Top tips –

  • Close cupboard doors after use – especially if they are on the leeward side it is easy to leave them open, then you tack, and the contents are sprayed everywhere…..!
  • Keep all your stuff in your own bag.
  • Make sure anything potentially dangerous (knives, plotters etc) are properly stowed
  • Keep crew bags out of the forepeak – which should only have sails in
  • Keep crew bags out of the saloon – keep access to the heads & forepeak clear
  • Keep ropes tidy and coil halyards tails etc away so there isn’t spaghetti in the cockpit
  • Know where your lifejacket is if you take it off. Don’t just chuck it down below.
  • Each Watch should leave the boat tidy ready for the crew change-over. Waking up after not enough sleep and not having a clean cup available, is not fun!

6. Eyes Out

Lastly, you can help the skipper and the rest of your team a huge amount – simply by keeping an eye on what is happening around you, this helps keep the whole boat focussed and in ‘race mode’.

Other boats on the same tack – can you see them getting blown over by the wind (gusts?) or do they seem to pointing higher or lower (headers or lifts?), are boats ahead on the same sail setting (wind shifts?) are they all tacking / gybing at the same place?

  • Water changes in colour – can you see gusts approaching?
  • Boat speed – are you gaining on a nearby rival? Or are they creeping ahead?
  • Landmarks – can you see that headland / lighthouse / mark which confirms you are on track

So you want to be competitive?  Want to walk win one of these trophies?  Now you know what you need to do… it’s all over to you!  Enjoy!!

If you think you could benefit from a weekend of race coaching – it costs from as little as £295p.p. Call Sailing Logic now on 02380 456360 or email:

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