Small Boat Racing Essentials

You don’t need much in the way of equipment on a small boat like mine, but here are a few racing essentials I absolutely couldn’t live without. Since I’m ever on the lookout for things that make me a more competitive racer, be sure to check this page from time to time — you might find something new!

Tactical Compass – a necessity for racing, as it can tell you early on when the lifts and headers happen.  I like this better than the digital models, because you can see so much more information at a glance, and thus, have more of a visual idea of what the wind’s doing. It’s also helpful if you’re sailing across the bay and trying to find your way somewhere — a good compass will never let you down! Mine is mounted on my mast, just above where the halyards are cleated, so both I and my crew can easily see it. Look for my upcoming video on how to use a tactical compass while racing.

Race Start Timer – absolutely essential for getting the start sequence timed exactly to that last, crucial second. . .  I like this one because it has a “sync” button, so if you’re off by a few seconds, you can sync with the Race Committee’s signals at the 4 or 1 minute flags. You (or your crew) can wear it on your wrist.

Waterproof Notebook – In a small boat, there’s water everywhere.  I use this water-proof pad for recording wind data, and the race course details, and any other things I don’t want to forget. It works way better than soggy paper, plus you can keep a nice little log of your racing, scores, conditions, and stuff you figured out!

Stainless Steel Knife – I use mine all the time, in fact, it lives in the pocket of my PFD, where it comes in very handy. Having your knife with you is a good safety strategy – not to mention being very convenient. I like the stainless steel version as it doesn’t corrode.

Marine Electrical Tape – I always have lots of this on hand on the boat – I usually use white to wrap around crucial knots (like the bowline that attaches my mainsheet to the strap-eye on my boom) so that they don’t loosen. The colors come in handy for marking things, too.

Permanent Markers – These are indispensable – I use mine to mark my halyards and sheets for quick repeatability on racing settings. Since I depend on the crew to help me with sail trim, this is key in helping less experienced sailors know where to sheet in – especially helpful at the start! I use different colors for different settings, and keep them fresh in a zip-loc bag.

Waterproof Roll Bags – These are a necessity on board a small, open-cockpit sailboat – everything, absolutely everything, gets wet! I use one for my tools (the small size) and a bigger one to store my extra clothes and phone.

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