Becoming a better sailor 

There seems to be a push for more clinics and becoming a better sailor in the Lido Class and I would like to share with you what has helped me become a better sailor over the past few years. There’s no end to becoming a better Lido Sailor. I learn and, at times, relearn (the hard way) past mistakes. Mark explainsSimply put, there is no better way to improve your lido sailing then simply putting the time in the boat. But we all have jobs, family, school and other factors that keep us out of our beloved Lido. However, we can still learn new things on land that can help us sail smarter and faster the next time we’re out on the water. Here are some factors that have helped me out over the years in sailing the Lido:

-Read and reread the tuning guides.  Reading and re-reading the Quantum and Ullman tuning guide before the start of each season or Twilight series has helped me remember certain go fast tips, measurements and techniques that make Lido’s go fast. This especially helps out if I haven’t sailed the Lido in a while.

-Get into the habit of having a sailing notebook. By writing down what went well & what didn’t go well after each time you raced your Lido, you help prevent repeating past mistakes. I have notebooks that go back years that tell the strategy, tactics, measurements and other factors that had helped me or didn’t help me in regatta’s past. Write down what went well and more importantly what didn’t. What was your outhaul/downhaul tension for different wind strengths? What about your jib halyard tension? Where did you sit in the boat for certain wave heights and wind strengths? What did the wind do in the different venues that you sailed in? What factors seemed to make the boat ‘go’? By writing this information down and rereading your notes before major regatta’s you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you go sailing. In fact, you build upon past experience and evolve your sailing skills. You might also see a pattern...maybe even a pattern that keeps you from winning and you can work on preventing that pattern from repeating. By re-reading what happened in regatta’s past, I’ve found it easier to make rational strategic and tactically moves and hopefully you can too.


-I subscribe to Speed & Smarts, a newsletter of how-to tips for racing sailors written by Dave Dellenbaugh. Dave is a multiple one-design national champion, match racing champion and America’s Cup tactician. Speed & Smarts has shaped me into the kind of sailor that I am today & helped tremendously in improving my sailing skills and will help you, too. I highly recommend that you subscribe to Speed & Smarts.


-Reading Dave Perry’s Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing has helped me better understand what I can and can’t do out on the race course. By having a solid understanding of the racing rules, I can better equip myself to make smart tactical maneuvers. I highly recommend reading Perry’s book to build your own confidence in the rules for sailing Lido Twilight’s, weekend regattas and national championships alike.


-Sailboat Racing with Greg Fisher by Tom Hubbell and Winning in One-Design by Dave Perry are two great sailing books that are full of boat handling, strategy and tactics that lead to good finishes and regatta results. I highly recommend adding these books to your own sailing library.

Reading and re-reading the Lido Bylaws every year has helped put me in the right mind set of what I can and can’t do to my Lido to make her go faster. This is especially true when I have an open weekend to work on my Lido in the garage before the sailing season.

    has a wealth of sailing videos that will improve your sailing skills. Look up Greg Fisher (a multiple national one-design champion), Dave Dellenbaugh and College Sailing Nationals (just to name a few)to see some great sailing videos that is full of good strategy, tactics and boat-handling that you can use in your own sailing.

Watch Mark in action on a Thursday night


-Buy a GoPro video camera and record yourself sailing in local twilights and regatta’s. By recording yourself you can see certain techniques that you do that make your lido go fast. But more importantly, you can see techniques that hurt your finishes as well. Don’t forget to write down your video notes in your notebook, too. The camera doesn’t lie and it’s fun to watch and re-watch sailing from years past. It’s also fun to see how you change your sailing style and visually see your improvement. How about asking a faster sailor if you can put your GoPro on their boat, too? Why not upload your lido sailing videos to and share what you learn with your lido family?


-Mark your mainsheet, jib sheets, outhaul and jib halyard to repeat go fast trim. If your trim worked last week in the same wind and wave conditions, then it should work this week, too. By marking your lines you can easily repeat fast settings each week. The markings also give you a ball park range for adjustments and settings.


-Sail with other skippers and other boats and you will learn something new every time. Don’t forget to write what you learned down in your notebook as well. By sailing with other skippers, you can learn what makes them win or lose. No need to reinvent the wheel, just copy the fast guys by sailing with them and observing what they do to win. What strategy and tactics do they do that differ from your own? How do they set up their boat to win? Where do they sit in the boat in different wind strengths? Where’s their outhaul, downhaul, boom vang, jib halyard tension, main and jib trim for different wind strengths and angles and why? How do they react to certain situations in a race? How do they react when they win and more importantly, when they lose? Also, don’t be afraid to give the helm over to your crew and crew for your crew once in a while. You will definitely learn different techniques that will help make your Lido go fast and finish in the top of your division. Crewing can also give you a whole new perspective on Lido sailing and the race itself. GIve it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

-Make it a habit to debrief with your crew after each race. What went well? What didn’t? By doing this you can help each other become better sailors and a better team. Also, share your thoughts with your fleet members and Lido family. The Thistle class has a round table discussion at each of their major regattas where the top five skippers answer questions from their fellow competitors. By sharing go fast tips, the whole fleet becomes better sailors and more competitive and this keeps everyone happy and sailing. Maybe each fleet can have their own round table after each twilight night (don’t forget the beer). How about we start our own Lido round table at every major regatta this year?  This year’s High Sierra and National Championship can be a great time to start our very own round table discussion.


These are just some of the ways that I try to improve my sailing year round. What are yours?

Mark Ryan

L #2506



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