Off-Season Regatta Prep

Making the most of your midwinter regattas

By Russ O’Reilly

Heading down to Florida for some winter club 420 sailing? For many sailors the Orange Bowl Regatta and Club 420 Midwinters are a great opportunity to get some sun and warm weather in the cold months but trapeze and spinnaker-style sailing isn’t what they’ve been focusing on since the summer season. Here are a few tips to make sure you and your teammate can make the most out of the experience:

  1. Spend some time to make sure your boat is in good shape BEFORE you go. Arriving at the event with equipment that will hold you back or having to spend valuable practice time fixing or replacing parts of your boat is unproductive and limits your ability to shake off the off-season rust that can prevent you from performing at your best.
  2. If you are arriving as part of a team make sure to have a plan for some warm-up sailing or practice where possible. If you are on the ‘lone wolf’ program try to link up with other teams or friends in the parking lot, even a quick speed test a half hour before the start of the first race can be helpful in identifying tuning or technique refinements that can be made before the points start to count.
  3. If you are sailing with a new partner in the boat, getting in sync with each other through your boathandling routine (tacks, gybes, accelerations, sets, douses, penalty turns) may prove to be a better use of your practice time than straight speed testing or a focus on tuning. At these off-season events there can often be a slightly lower standard of boathandling when compared to the peak summer events when the bulk of the fleet is sailing Club 420s full-time so having an advantage there can pay huge dividends when trying to pick up points around the racecourse!
Orange Bowl 2012: A coach talks to a group of 420 sailors before they head to the racecourse
Orange Bowl 2012: A coach talks to a group of 420 sailors before they head to the racecourse

 Closing thoughts:

  • During the event, make sure to have a solid gameplan of where you’d like to go around the racecourse and use your execution of starts, tactics, and boatspeed to make it happen.
  • Identify any skew of the racecourse and point to the marks unless you have a great reason not to (usually pressure or lane management).
  • Dress for the conditions. Just because it’s Miami doesn’t mean it can’t get cold.
  • Have fun!


Rus O'ReillyRuss O’Reilly is in his 5th year as head coach for SUNY Maritime. He graduated from College of Charleston in 2007 where he was a two-time All American.

[420 photo courtesy of Coral Reef Yacht Club]