Port End Start on a Port Biased Line

Port end starts can be tricky, and winning the pin is generally less important than getting a clear lane near the pin buoy.



What the Experts Say

Paul Goodison – Laser Handbook

On heavily biased lines it is easy to become stranded behind the line with not enough time to reach the line at the gun

Jon Emmett – Be Your Own Sailing Coach

It may be possible to be the closest boat to the pin, but often it will be safer to find a natural gap along the line.



Books with information on Port End Starts



Websites and online articles for Port End Starts

There is a good article on this web page on Port End Starts - 'Win the Pin with Match Racing Moves'

Paul Goodison covers port end starts on this page of an excellent article on all aspects of starting

This comprehensive article on starting well has a good description of a typical port biased line situation

Another comprehensive article on starting with a description of nailing a port end start

A very useful article which covers winning both the port end and the committee boat end of the line

In this piece on winning the end you have chosen, Jon Emmett describes how to own the pin end

The Center of Effort blog on using laylines at the start, with some specific advice for a port end start

This article also has good advice for port end starts

This piece discusses the rules around starting at the pin end

Here's something interesting...when going for a starboard end start on a port biased line is best.



Videos for Port End Starts

In this video you can see good examples of the bunching that can cause mayhem at port end starts. The boats that get the best starts are the ones which are close to the pin, but far enough up the line to avoid the mess. The starts appear here, here and here.


Some great examples of good port end starts can be found here and here


Ouch. Quite a few boats in this video get in trouble at the pin end and have to wait it out or take huge risks to try and salvage their starts.


The Yngling Medal Race at the 2008 Olympics. Here you see how even the best sailors in the world can get their timing wrong as the Norwegian and Russian boats have to gybe round, realising they are not going to make the pin. China don't bail out and look in trouble before the footage cuts away. Acting on the situation before the gun limits the damage.

Sarah Ayton looks at a port biased line



What We Learned...

Port End Start on a Port Biased Line

Port end starts can be tricky so you do need to be careful. If the line is biased towards the port end then it will take longer to approach the line on starboard than if the line is square or biased to the starboard end. This means that a few problems can occur.

Firstly, if you are racing in a medium to large fleet then there can often be a raft at the pin buoy. Boats which have misjudged their approach to line get caught on the buoy, and start pointing up above close hauled in order to try and squeeze past the pin buoy. As they are therefore moving slowly this has a knock on effect up the line, as other boats have to point up to avoid them. You don’t want to get caught in this mess as it can take a long time to get out, and often penalties are incurred.

Similarly, it can be difficult to judge your acceleration off the line, as you take longer to approach the line due to the wind angle. Here it can be very useful to have a number of transits leading up to the line, and to understand how long it takes you to move from transit to transit in the conditions. This can help you avoid starting your acceleration process too late and being late off the line. Especially as, in a competitive fleet, boats that do judge their acceleration well will get the jump on you and you can be left in dirty air, making you even slower off the line. Not good.

It can often be better to make your approach to finding your spot on the line from port of the line, approaching on port tack. This allows you to have a look for gaps, whilst having plenty of boatspeed and manoeuvrability. You don’t have the same range of options approaching on starboard as you normally have to sail below other boats sitting on starboard, making your approach to the line trickier due to the wind angle.

There is always the option, too, of a port tack start – risky, but brilliant when they come off.

One other important consideration is what object is used as the pin end. If it is a buoy, have a look and check the mooring rope. Often the rope can extend out to windward of the mark, and you’ll need to be sure you can avoid this if you sail just past the buoy at the start. Getting your foils tangled up with the buoy spells certain disaster. If a boat is being used, you need to bear in mind where the marker is on the boat for the line. You may have to start well back from the boat in order to be behind the line at the gun and be able to clear the bow of the boat.

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