Author: Dave Perry
I really like Dave Perry’s writing style – he’s conversational and funny, much like he is in person (I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in on his Racing Rules Seminar a couple of times), so this book is an enjoyable read. I think that this is one of the best guides to sailboat racing there is — it’s imminently readable, and organized so well that you can refer back to the appropriate sections when you’re trying to improve a particular weakness. You can use it like a “workbook”, as I did in my second season of racing, and I improved quite a lot by implementing the suggestions and techniques outlined in the book.
The book is focused on dinghies and small keelboats, and the chapters cover such things as preparing your boat for racing, the development of teamwork, crew motivation, and the importance of helping each other, which resonated particularly with me. Boat speed is examined in sections for both light and heavy airs, and tactics are discussed for starts and finishes and also for the upwind and downwind legs, so it’s easy to review a particular area you want to work on.
Probably the most beneficial thing in the book, for me, was being able to see on paper the effect of losses and gains due to windshifts, which were quantified and displayed in table form, much to my delight. That’s a hard concept for those new to racing to understand, and a crucial one in understanding how to win races. For me, seeing it in a simple diagram and table was an “Aha!” moment. It made me wish I had paid better attention in geometry! My favorite chapter, however, was “Crewing for Paul Elvstrom,” a beautifully written account of crewing for one of the all-time greatest sailors ever.
I highly recommend this book for the very advanced beginner/intermediate racer. If you’re a beginner, definitely buy this book and have it on your shelf for when you’re ready, but start with Adam Cort’s Getting Started in Sailboat Racing first.