PREPARIN TO START - FRIENDLY RACING You will of course moor your boat to the hawser by a " slip rope," and you should station a steady man to it, one who is not likely to lose his head in the excitement, and to let go when he ought to hold on, and hold on when he ought to let go.
Now station all your men for making sail and see that each man knows exactly what he has got to do, and warn them all to do it without hurry or confusion, for it should be remembered that a few boats lengths at the start in a sailing race, is of very little consequence ; it is quite different from a rowing race, where men are very apt to lose heart if another boat gets the lead of them ; but sailing boats are not affected by any such sentimental grievances, and as a matter of fact, it is very rarely found that the first boat round the lee mark boat, wins the race ; it is almost always the best boat at " working to windward," and not the best boat " off the wind," that wins, and these two qualities are very rarely combined in one boat ; so don't be in too great a hurry to get away, and if you see that there is any chance of a foul at the start, just hold on for a few seconds and let the other boats get clear of you, you wont lose anything by it.
Now then, stand by ! Bang goes the gun, and off you all go before a fine fresh " whole sail " breeze ; up go the squaresails and spinakers and gafftopsails and all sorts of "kites," most of them more or less foul in the excitement, but by and bye they all get themselves hoisted up clear and away you all go gaily before the breeze ; and remember that there is no harm in having good "running" sails as long as they don't interfere in any way with your working sails ; it is just possible that a good squaresail may enable you to pull off a race, if it happens to be a very close "run in " at the finish, but on no account should you sacrifice in any way the efficiency of your working sails by hampering them with halyards, or booms, or gilguys of any sort, for the running sails ; for as I remarked in a previous chapter, one yard to windward is worth six to leeward.
You have now run down to leeward, and are getting near the lee mark boat, and thinking about taking in your running sails and hauling to the wind ; let us imagine for the sake of argument that you are about the middle of a crowd, there are three or four boats ahead of you, and three or four astern, but there is one boat right alongside of you, you two have been running neck and neck all the way, and now the question is—who is to cut the other out round the mark boat, and find himself on his adversary's weather bow, or at any rate on his weather quarter, as soon as you are both round the mark, and close hauled for your beat to windward.
Let us say that the mark has to be left on the port hand, that you are now nearly dead before the -wind, and that you have to haul close to the wind directly you round the mark ; under these circumstances do all you can to get out side your adversary, or in other words to starboard of him ; do not steer straight for the mark, but steer a course which would take you two or three boat's lengths to the right of it, and then if your adversary steers so as to pass close to the mark before he puts his helm down for rounding it, (and I may here observe that this is the popular idea of cutting out) then you will have no difficulty in getting the best of him ; and I will endeavour to explain by means of a diagram how you can do so ; observing first of all that if the two boats are exactly even with each other, you must get your boat just clear astern of your adversary ; this is easily done by jamming the helm hard over, first one way, and then the other or by flattening aft the sheets.
Now it is evident from the following diagram that although A was astern of B at the first posi tion, he has got the best of him at the second position; and the reason is this—A made her turn before she got to the mark-boat and passed close to leeward of it ; but B having passed close to the mark-boat whilst before the wind, had to run to leeward whilst waking her turn : and thus A finds herself upon B's weather quarter, which I need hardly say is a very advantageous position, as she will now most probably pass B to wind ward, for B's helmsman will sail his boat as close to the wind as possible, and try to claw to wind ward all he can, in order to prevent A from passing to windward of him, but A's helmsman has nothing to do but to sail his boat " clean full " and let her go through the water, and then if the two boats are at all equal in speed and weatherly qualities, he will pass B like a flash of greased lightning, and I need scarcely remark that it is a very demoralizing thing to have a boat pass to windward of you, take the wind out of your sails, and leave you without any " weigh " on astern and to leeward.