Yacht Racing - Positions Of Crew During Race
( Originally Published 1911 )
THE positions of the crew during the race is of no little importance. They should be stationed so that they can handle their respective sheets without moving about and should also be able to utilize their strength to the best possible advantage. Their positions in the cockpit, and on the windward and leeward rail, should be known, and, in ordinary conditions, the center of their weight should be just about over the center of buoyancy of the hull of the boat. If the wave under the bow is too great and lifts her head too much, shift your crew slightly forward to counterbalance this tendency. A good arrangement for three men is, one forward of the helmsman, handling both jib-sheets, and one aft, handling mainsheet and one preventer, the skipper taking the other.
If the skipper is on the windward rail, he should kneel down, not lie down, as then he could see nothing and would be in an un-comfortable position. The jibsheet-man just forward can lie down and out, and if the mainsheet-man just aft is not playing the main-sheet, he can lie down ; otherwise have him sit up in a strong position, feet or knees braced against the coaming so as to be able to pull. In heavy conditions the position of the main-sail is of a great deal more importance than the windage of the crew. The jibsheet-man can lead his leeward sheet to windward and cleat it there ; and vice versa, so he does not move off the rail until the boat tacks, in order to slack his jib, he also hauls it in from the weather rail. If the helmsman cannot comfortably reach his tiller from the weather rail, have a luffing stick made, consisting of a short, stout stick, say two feet long, so that he can hold it comfortably, with a leather strap to slip over the tiller head and so connect at right angles. This arrangement will allow him to sit well out to weather where his weight will tell.
In a long, flat scow the crew need not bunch up in the center of the boat, but can string along on the rail, the boat being waterborne for such a great distance it will come easier on the construction to spread out the weight as much as possible. This will also give plenty of room for handling, and the crew will not be so apt to get in each other's way when tacking. It is impossible to set any hard and fast rule for positions of the crew, as boats differ in their weights ; the best way is for each man to try his boat, changing the crew at various intervals.
There is one thing, however, of great importance, that is, that everybody shall remain just as quiet and still as possible, as the least movement retards the sensitive racer's speed tremendously.