To me the most
exciting sport in the world is racing class boats—day sailers built to certain
specific designs so they can compete on equal terms with other boats in their
own class. First, I think the best sailors are in these one-design boats, and
this means good competition. Second, there are half a million one-design boats
in the U.S., spread over 75 major classes. This means there is a design for
everyone. I happen to race a Star, the 22-foot 9-inch boat shown on these
pages, probably because when I was a youngster the best sailors at the San
Diego Yacht Club, where I race, were in the Stars. If I had lived in Wisconsin
I might have gone for Scows; in the East, maybe a Snipe or an
There is another
reason why I'm partial to class boats. They give the best possible training to
anyone who plans to spend his leisure hours on the water. By competing against
top skippers you can't help but absorb good boating habits. My crewman, Lance
Morton, demonstrates this fact in the drawing at left, hiking way out to hold
the boat on her best sailing lines, but at the same time keeping a tight grip
on the jibsheet and a sharp eye ahead.
races are watch-dogged by committee boats, whose job is not only to patrol for
rule infractions but also to pick up anyone who gets into serious trouble.
Perhaps I shouldn't say serious trouble for in class boating there should be no
serious trouble—if you know what you are doing. On the following pages we show
some of the basic practices of sensible class-boat sailing. If you learn them
you will be on the way to developing the kind of boating habits that will help
you keep out of trouble and enjoy yourself aboard any day sailer.
Getting Ready to
HOW TO STEP THE
Although a very skilled man may be able to step a mast alone, such solo
performances seem a foolish gamble to me. Lance and I always work together.
First we tie stays and shrouds to the mast so they won't flap around. Then
Lance tends the butt, guiding it through the deck into the step while I walk
forward slowly, raising the mast as I move ahead. Unstepping the mast, the crew
should always remember to lift the butt as the mast is lowered, so that it will
not jam and perhaps tear up the deck as it comes down. Note that like most of
today's racers we keep our boat out of water on a trailer, where it is safe
from storms, less subject to rot and will not gather barnacles or other marine
When shackling halyards to sails, always look aloft before hoisting. Many
racers use halyard locks to reduce the compression load on the mast. Wherever a
cleat is used, whether to secure a halyard or a mooring pennant, slippery
synthetic lines should be made fast with half hitches, as above.
SHOVING OFF FROM
Try to plan your departure so that you shove off from the lee side (downwind)
of a dock. Otherwise sails and hull may bang and rip against pilings. When
ready to go, skipper should be at tiller, sheets should be slack, crewman on
dock. Crew then pushes boat straight back—not to one side, where wind may fill
sails and send boat shooting forward to an unscheduled crash landing. When well
clear of the dock, crew backs jib, bow swings off wind and boat sails safely
Hiking Out to Windward
TOES UNDER THE
In boats like Stars, where hiking straps are prohibited, crew can get weight
out by hooking toes under boom and keeping tight grip on sheets. This method is
used more often on reaches, and as a change of position when crewman tires of
lying along side as shown on page 60.
Named after East Coast Star Sailor Joe Duplin, this technique gets weight low
but requires fast scramble when coming about. Duplin himself hoists crew in by
the belt. I'm not that strong; instead I brace Lance's ankles with my hand and
he pulls up with thigh muscles.