Collectively across this great nation weeknight racing or beer can racing comes in many forms. Locally Bellingham YC races Wednesday and CYC Bellingham race Thursday night. Oak Harbor also race Thursdays. OIYC and SJIYC race on Fridays. Everett has Friday night racing they call the log dodge and Tuesday's on Lake Union is the legendary Duck Dodge. These races always are set up with different divisions. Here in Anacortes we have Fleet 1 which is NFS or No Flying Sails, which means these boats compete without spinnakers. Fleet 2 for boats as fast as an Islander 30 or slower. Fleet 3 is anything faster than an Islander 30. Flying a standard size spinnaker is generally an 18 second per mile adjustment to your rating and is usually worth it except in very windy races when many boats don't use their spinnaker. (Hey KW watch for paragraph here)
Success on the race course depends on many variables. What is your goal? Success for some is simply enjoying the great outdoors! Success for others is competing against a friendly rival, for example the epic Handyman vs. Syndicat battle. Success for others is doing well consistently. To do well on the race course a well prepared boat helps. Clean bottom, decent sails, rig tuned properly and coordinated crew work are a few keys. Ultimately choosing the proper course is also critical. Generally as you clear the starting line you want to be on the tack that takes you up the course the furthest the fastest, the long board if you will. Of course if you can see the wind fading up ahead or a bunch of faster boats are disturbing your wind a short tack over may be in order. After 35 years of AYC Wednesday night racing I have noticed a few common mistakes. (Some I continue to make.) The spinnaker has changed a bunch in shape and control systems, but some boats continue to struggle with control systems that helped give it's reputation as a pain in the first place. If you have difficulty setting, gybing and dousing your spinnaker talk to a sailor that looks like they have it figured out and see if you can incorporate their ideas into your program. The most successful racing team in our club actually pays people to tell them how to improve,and they win consistently, maybe a correlation here? If you aren't sure what a twinger or tweaker is or how it's used or think a spinnaker must be launched off the bow, tune in here there is fun even tranquility in store for you and the spinnaker. Ever notice that boats have those long tracks for headsail adjustment along their decks and if you move the farilead you can see by the shadow it has not moved since the Nixon administration, performance in store here, Halyard adjustment affects both speed and point.
The easiest thing to do is dress for weather bring a lifejacket and hang around the docks an hour before the start time. Introduce yourself and a bring a light snack to share. I can honestly say I have never seen anybody left on the dock. Of course it helps if you're young and attractive but in lieu of that read the tide book and pray your offer of a snack will be seen as a compensator. Once you have done it a few times take your own boat and join the fun. Wind in your hair, even if it's just in your ears and not your head and the feel of that a well sailed yacht under your fourth point of conatact can't be beat!