Even if you're not competitive, racing probably gets you out on the water earning more often, and it very probably makes you a better sailor. If you are competitive and looking to start a new sport, then with over 30 diverse races per year, we have you covered. Here's our advice for getting started.
Become familiar with the following:
If you're planning on racing more than a few times, you become a member of PHRF-NW, which allows you to get a rating certificate for your boat. A rating is like a handicap, except just for your boat, so that slower boats can race faster boats and still possibly win on corrected time. Ratings are a seconds per mile or seconds per minute correction. You can't race without a rating. Sloop Tavern Yacht Club has two raters, and one will work with you to get a rating. If you have a common boat, this is pretty easy. Try to start this process a few weeks before you plan to participate in a race. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on a PHRF-NW rating.
If you are just trying racing for the first time, and you aren't ready to commit to PHRF-NW membership yet, you can get a club rating for free from STYC. You can only race STYC races with this rating, and you have to be a member of STYC (except for Race Your House, where provisional ratings are given since many liveaboards race only that one race each year.) Email us at email@example.com to get started on a club rating.
The best way to meet people in the community and learn how to race is to volunteer on a committee boat, even if you really just want to sail. You see how starts work, and what's important before and afterward. You learn the right etiquette, and the timing. You watch other boats race and learn from them. You can ask questions during and after the race. And you meet people! To volunteer, see our volunteer page.
Crew on other people's boats to steal all their secrets and work on your skills, and then crew through volunteering or using our Crew Circle. Socializing after races is also a good opportunity to find crew who match your interests and abilities.
Get out there and race! Be careful about knowing the rules pertaining to right of way, or just stay clear of other boats when in doubt. Watch other boats as much as you can. One of the best ways to learn how to race is to be in the back, watching all the other boats and deciding which boat you want to follow. They can run, but they can't hide.