Beginner's guide to Coastal Worlds, Tip #6

pictured above, finding space at the start

pictured above, finding space at the start

Tip #6: Bring your Voice!

You have to be vocal in coastal racing.  If you haven’t raced at coastal worlds before, you’ll be surprised at how vocal it can get amongst the competitors as they weave through the course.

The rules are fairly simple, with the most critical rule stating that an overtaking boat must yield to a boat being overtaken. Furthermore, the boat being overtaken must maintain its course, and not engage in active “blocking” tactics. So if a boat is creeping up your stern, yell “line!” Hold your course and make them go around you. Once they take evasive course correction, don't shift your course to block them - but make sure you initially establish yourself in position and make sure the overtaking boat gives way. More importantly, if a boat on your beam is overtaking you from the side, but looks like they will not clear your oars, yell “line!” If they don’t steer clear, yell  “oars!” or similar. And speak loudly, with your best authoritative voice of command. Again, the point is to establish that you know you don't have to give way while also giving the overtaking boat a heads up that you are there and if a course correction doesn't happen a collision is imminent. 

If a boat is next to you with no decided leader (i.e., no discernible "give way" or overtaking boat) and it looks like you may be converging onto a collision course - give a shout. I’m sure they would do the same for you. Crashes slow everyone down, no one wants to have them, so don’t worry about appearing “rude.” Better to say something than to tangle up. Even if you aren't at fault, you will loose a lot of time if you crash, and these races are too close and too competitive to be hung up with another boat. 

Then there's the start - that's a tricky one because no one is a "right of way" boat here! Perhaps a touch of smooth and polite negotiation could get you some space for your oars. This year Victoria is planning a beach start, and while that brings its own challenges, it does eliminate the jostling for position inherent in the floating start.

Overall, do not be shy. This is ruff and tumble, aggressive “off road” racing.

Even with this roguishness, I think one of the most wonderful aspects of coastal racing is its balance of high-level competition with congenial camaraderie.  The racing is absolutely ferocious, but before and after the race everyone is incredibly kind and social. Experienced racers have no problem giving tips to less experienced ones. In fact, the reason I can share this "voice" tip is because I was told by a more experienced racer one year that I had to make sure to yell if someone was at risk of colliding with me. It’s a welcoming and laid-back group that turns into a yelling, sweating, riot of movement on the race course. From my few championship experiences, I’ve already gained a group of “buddies” who I see every year. It’s a great crowd. The racing, the yelling, the aggression on the course is all part of the game. As is sportsmanship – it's not uncommon to hear a helpful “look ahead!” to save a competitor from rounding the wrong side of a buoy, to help them avoid a collision, or etc. So use your voice to help yourself, and don't be afraid to use it to help a competitor should that become appropriate. Who knows, the favor may be repaid to you later in the race. Even a few seconds saved could mean the difference between the A and B finals, or between the B finals and elimination. 

This tip is simple, even if its application is more exciting and complex:

“Bring your voice to Victoria!”