Sail Faster! We all want to do it, but how do we achieve it? The great thing about the sport of sailing is there are so many ways to work on improving your speed through the water, there’s never an excuse to get bored.

If we measure ‘sailing faster’ by reaching the finish line of a race more quickly, there are numerous areas for us to work on. Here’s a few ideas for you:

  • Teamwork
  • Better Equipment
  • Greater strength, fitness and flexibility
  • Greater mental strength and resilience
  • Better technique
  • More accurate tuning and boat setup
  • Superior starting (you might need to work on your SLOW speed control to improve your starts. Sometimes slower is actually faster!)
  • Tighter tactics (your boat on boat positioning)
  • Better knowledge of the Racing Rules (you’ll need this for your Starting and Tactics)
  • Better race strategy 
  • Understanding meteorology
  • Reading the conditions around you - the clouds and the waves for example
  • Better shoreside organisation (much of the race is won before you even leave the shore).


Sailing Faster is a combination of 13 factors listed above, along with a few others that you can probably think of too! That leaves us a lot to work on, so where to start? Here are two different approaches for you to consider:

  1. Choose what excites you the most. Let’s call this ‘Passion’.
  2. Prioritise what area offers the greatest potential improvement. Let’s call this ‘Priority’. 


Let’s look at Passion first. What thrills you the most when you’re racing? Is it outsmarting the opposition with some clever tactics? Or outmanoeuvring them through a perfectly executed high-speed gybe?

Once you’ve identified your Passion, what are you going to do to make that factor one of the strongest weapons in your armoury? 

If it’s pulling off those perfect gybes, then guess what! You’re going to be doing some extensive gybing practice. You might even broach or capsize a few times along the way. In fact if you don’t, you’re probably not pushing hard enough.

If it’s outsmarting the opposition, then you’d better read up on your Racing Rules of Sailing. 

Whichever way you’re dreaming of Sailing Faster, choose your weapon and learn to wield that weapon like a master.


There’s a problem with the Passion approach though, because it might lead you to focus on the stuff that you’re already good at. Still worth doing, but is there lower-hanging fruit for you to pick? 

Let’s try another approach. 

Close your eyes and sail back through your last race, or a bunch of your most recent races. 

While you’re going back through your memory, remember that a sailboat race is about minimising your mistakes around the race course. The bigger the mistake, the more it hurts your result at the finish line.

So, in your recent racing, what was the mistake that hurt you the most? 

If you’re capsizing in the gybes on a regular basis, that’s a pretty obvious mistake. 

What are your starts like? Able to control the space around you and accelerate just that little bit sooner than the boats on either side of you? No? Then maybe your slow-speed boat control is actually the quickest way to Sail Faster.

So be honest with yourself. What weakness is tripping you up the most? Once you’ve pinpointed the biggest problem, now you’ve highlighted your biggest Priority.

Whatever approach you choose in your mission to Sail Faster, it has to be fun. Whether you opt for Passion or Priority, or maybe forge your own personalised plan for self-improvement, set yourself a measurable target. Because there’s nothing better than working hard for something that’s out of reach, but which becomes achievable through a plan and a commitment to make yourself a faster sailor.

Look back up at that long list of things that we gave you as areas for improvement. Remember that you don’t need to be the fittest, the strongest, the smartest or even the fastest. If you score a 10 out of 10 in one area, that’s great! You’ll be unbeatable in a certain set of circumstances, maybe in a particular wind strength on a particular point of sail. But the greatest sailors are true all-rounders, capable of handling any situation that is thrown in their path. 

So what if you could improve in 10 different areas by just 5 per cent? Be a bit better at your tacks, a bit more clued up about the Racing Rules, have a better idea of what that dark cloud is telling you. Does 5 per cent in 10 different sailing skills seem a realistic target? Yes, it will be challenging, but it is definitely realistic. If you’re serious about sailing faster, you have the tools to make it happen.

Watch our webinar

Try out some of the tips and tricks we’ve outlined in this article. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas in your training sessions. There’s a lot more race-winning info in our series of Webinars.

Join in (for free) with Sailmon’s live webinars where we have some of the very best sailors in the world sharing their go-faster tips with the audience from around the world. Even if you can’t make it to the live session, all the recordings are on Sailmon.com