A loser’s guide to winning in one designs

Race preparation

  • Survey your competitors. Sail those events with the lowest turnout, lest competition, and those regattas where they give the most awards.
  • If sailing as part of a series, maximize participation by turning up those days everyone else stays home when it’s cold, rainy etc.

Boat prep and tuning

  • You don’t have the time or inclination to figure out how to make your boat go fast by spending time on the water. Replicate all settings from the sailmaker(s) in your fleet or that guy who was All-American at Kings Point or something.
  • Keep your new sails in shape by not using them, including at big events where you have even less chance of doing well.


  • Pray you get a good start. Follow the leaders around the course doing exactly as they do.
  • Go left, always go left, unless the good boats are going right, in which case you probably should have gone right.


  • You know you can’t start or hold a lane off the line, so why try. Start near the boat so you when you inevitably have to tack away for clear air you can do so without taking everyone’s transom.
  • Try setting up next to a “sheep” until you realize that you’re always the “sheep” in the wolf/sheep scenario.


  • If you find yourself on the wrong side of a shift going upwind, dig in, keep going to that side and pray taking a flyer by yourself will pay. It’s gotta pay this time.
  • Now that you’re at the back of the fleet, go left again on the second upwind. You’re never going to catch up to the fleet if you just follow them to the favored tack/side.


  • Fixate on your tactical position with boats immediately around you, aggressively taking them up if necessary, to give the boats ahead a chance to further extend their lead and the one straggler behind a chance to catch up.

Rules and sportsmanship

  • Compensate for your lack of understanding of the basic racing rules of sailing by being aggressive and overly confident, protesting and never following through, and challenging others to do the same.
  • Only talk to sailors of equal or better sailing ability. Acknowledging the presence or existence of inferior sailors on or off the water will reflect poorly on your own abilities.

Supporting your local one design fleet

      • Pay dues only when absolutely required to do so to participate in an event or avoid public shaming.
      • Provide input to fleet decisions, preferably through long email rants on the fleet listserv. If possible, target your input specifically through ad hominem attacks on other fleet members, race committee officials, or others who volunteer their time.
      • If you continue be a loser at one designs, get a PHRF boat and blame poor performance on your rating


Jump in the thread!