Focus on fitness
Working on your fitness on land will improve your sailing skills. "Core-stability work improves balance when trapezing in a harness over the side of the boat, and also helps prevent injury," says Harvey Hillary, national racing coach for Skandia Team GBR. Studies have shown that sailing also requires good anaerobic fitness. "GB sailors do a lot of lactic-acid training to build their resistance to it, such as running, cycling or rowing at 85% of maximum heart rate for up to 25 minutes."
A cool head is the key to success. "When racing, stay logical and avoid becoming emotional and worrying about what other boats are doing," Hillary says. "Have a clear plan, and constantly reassess it, asking yourself: 'What was my plan? Is it happening? If not, why not? What am I going to do about it?'"
Learn from the experts
The best way to learn is to crew for a better sailor in your club. "Feeling how they sail the boat and trim the sails is a kinesthetic way of learning that will fast-track you to success," according to Hillary.
Don't force it
Your boat will tell you what it wants to do, so listen to it. "When turning around marks [buoys] in a race, the boat has to want to turn, so make sure you have the right heel and sail trim, rather than relying on the rudder to force the turn, because this will slow you down."
It may feel as if speed is of the essence, "but rushing anything on a boat is when mistakes happen," Hillary says. "Consistency is more important, so if you have problems with certain manoeuvres, isolate them, practise them and then gradually increase your speed."