Here are some in depth articles that will give you lots of ideas to improve your sailing and boat handling. For loads more tips have a look at our Coaching Tips pages
The Surf's up, the breeze is on, BRILLIANT! National Twelves are probably the most exciting boats to sail in a blow. Difficult upwind and downwind can scare you silly!
Get out to the race course in plenty of time and start the fun. Try the beat, not just to check your compass, but to find out how your rig is, and how it needs to be. Typically we ease the forestay about an inch and probably crank the shrouds down about two in a serious blow. As the wind increases we pull on more and more shroud (the lighter you are the more you will need to de-power). This induces more bend into the middle of the rig flattening the mainsail, as well as maintaining the jib luff tension. (Otherwise the jib luff would sag, effectively making the jib fuller and spoiling your pointing ability). Due to the bendy characteristics of most Twelve masts you should find that as soon as you are both fully hiked the leeward shroud will always be panting (just slack). This is fast! Try to have the rig set correctly when the gun goes, otherwise you will find yourself with your head down when you need to be concentrating 100%.
Hike hard! The harder you hike the faster you will go! Most people tend to edge towards the front of the boat upwind. This is not fast in a blow. The thwart (if you have one) is generally a good indicator of where to put your feet. Helmsman just behind and crew just in front, be friendly- stay close together, it reduces the energy wasted in pitching. If your boat builder forgot the foredeck you may need to be even further back to keep the sea on the right side. Try not to let waves break over the bow, going round or over is faster than under. This is a matter of practice.