Coastal Classic: Your pre-race checklist and Predictwind prognosis

Wired on the charge - Start of the 2011 Coastal Classic

Competing in the Coastal Classic for the first time as a skipper, or crew? Here's a few tips:

Make sure your boat is 100% ready to go by the night before racing. Easier said than done, right? Here are a few extra ideas to add to the mix

If you are leaving from Westhaven, try to cast off by 9am at the latest, to give you time to get to the start line, and do a reconnaissance, checking out conditions and confirming your starting strategy. With this start line being extra long, starting at one end of the line or the other, really helps you to know where you are at.

TeamVodafoneSailing hits warp speed - Coastal Classic - 2011
Use a website like www.predictwind.com!PredictWind.com to know what the wind forecast is, and what the tide is going to be doing. Avoid adverse currents and make the most of helpful ones.

Really think hard about where to put your boat on the start line. Small boats, you really don't want to get stuck to leeward of a large boat - they'll roll over the top of you and the downtime will cost you in the first miles of the race.

The wind direction and proximity to North Head will affect your starting position. In a Westerly or North Westerly, North Head will always have a windless zone behind it.

Also think about the tides and currents as you get into the Bay of Islands, and close to the finish.

In the week leading up to the race start, or preferably before it's obvious that you should check your sails, clean your hull, and remove extra, unnecessary gear before the race north.

The match race starts - Coastal Classic - 2011
But here are a few other ideas that will get you to Russell that bit quicker:

1. Sail settings can be very precise and so mark up your sheets and controls, including halyards, vang, genoa cars and backstays, so that you can easily tell in the dark where they should be set. If in doubt, mark up a mid range setting.

2. Ever thought about glow in the dark trim strips for your sails?

3. Bring your boat maintenance up to date including the rig and all rigging

4. Wool your kites - if you are going to be hoisting in windy or tight conditions, you'll do so without a hitch (fingers crossed)

5. Ask your crew to pack a bag for the race, and a bag for after you finish that can go up in a car, and arrange for a friend or supporter to drive these bags, and any other stuff you don't need, like delivery sails, up in the car. It's a really easy to save one or two hundred kilograms of unnecessary weight. If you do have to take spare gear, then make sure it's stowed down low in a central location in the boat.

Karma Police - 2011 Coastal Classic - 2011

Wind and route forecast

The latest forecast from Predictwind.com shows a SW breeze at the start average of 17kts, which indicates 17-20kts. The breeze should stay in for the duration of the race with the lead monohull expected to take 8.5 to 9 hours with the wind easing as the boat move north.

The ORMA60 TeamVodafoneSailing should have a much quicker trip with her finish time predicted to be 4hrs 15m and 4 hours 45min. She is expected to hit average speeds of well over 30kts for much of the trip.

The routing function of www.predictwind.com!Predictwind shows that at this juncture the direct course north is the best one - making life simple for the tacticians and navigators.

We'll have further updates later in the week, but in the meantime stay in touch with www.predictwind.com!Predictwind