Friday, March 19, 2010

How to minimize risk

By David Dellenbaugh

Don’t take unnecessary chances! If you want to finish consistently near the top of the fleet, you must follow a conservative gameplan. That is, you should minimize risk, or exposure, by sticking to tactics and strategies that have a high probability of success. Of course, there are situations when it’s all right (or even smart) to take a chance, but your general approach should be to avoid risky decisions, manuevers, tactics and strategies. Here are 13 ideas on how you can minimize risk around the race course. If you implement as many of these as possible, your finishes should be more consistently near the top of the fleet.

1. Learn the racing rules. Knowing the rules is the best way to avoid breaking any rule. So spend some time looking at the rulebook on a regular basis. Besides reducing your risk, it will put you in a much stronger position tactically and help you stay in control of your race. (Don’t forget your class rules, too.)

2. Study the notice of race and sailing instructions. If you really want to minimize risk-taking, don’t ever sail a race without reading all the regatta rules first. This is an easy, foolproof way to avoid the kind of embarassing mistakes that can cost you a regatta.

3. Work hard on boatspeed. Improving your boatspeed may be hard work, but it can give you a huge return with no risk at all. In addition, good boatspeed will help you recover from mistakes. It lets you take slightly bigger risks (in search of slightly bigger rewards) while reducing your downside.

4. Practice boathandling maneuvers, especially in heavy air. When you’re racing, there is always at least a small risk whenever you perform a maneuver (e.g. heavy-air jibes). To minimize this risk, practice as much as possible, especially in stronger winds, and try to avoid high-risk maneuvers while racing.

5. Read all 13 tips click here!