first beat cheat sheet

the renowned Sunfish sailor Derrick Fries has been collecting data about his sailboat racing for almost 50 years, logging information for his upwind legs and his starts at all of his sailboat races.

photo via http://www.sunfishworlds.org/

photo of Derrick via http://www.sunfishworlds.org/

the amount of data compiled is a bit mind-numbing, to be honest, even for a numbers guy like myself.  sure, maybe the number itself isn’t that staggering, but holy smokes that’s a lot of races sailed in a lifetime.

The result is a huge statistical set: 10,000 windward legs and more than 3,700 starts.

Derrick has written an article discussing his data-logging and research with it for Sailing World – check out the full article here: First-Beat Cheat Sheet.

So conventional wisdom suggests that, all else being equal, you should start at the pin end. My data quantifies that assumption. Of the 3,727 starts in my data bank, 2,646 of them were pin-end-favored — a whopping 71 percent of the time.

I’ve written previously about Derrick Fries here. Derrick is a Sunfish champion and author of  “Successful Sunfish Racing” and “Start Sailing Right“.

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4 Responses to “first beat cheat sheet”


  1. 1 Jonathan Smith April 5, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I thought 92 starts in one summer w my pregnant wife was a lot of starts.

  2. 3 Tillerman April 5, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I read about Derek Fries’s approach to meticulously recording details of every race many years ago. In fact, somewhere I have a folder of blank forms on which to write down all that stuff that I must have bought from him.

    And yes my forms still all are mainly blank!

    But it doesn’t matter because now I can read his article and benefit from his research without having to do all that hard work myself.


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