Let’s face it, the start is the hardest part of any sailboat race. It is easy to mess up, and if you do it is an almost sure fired way to have a bad race. If you go big and decide that you have to win the pin or the boat, recognize that in a crowded scenario usually only one boat is going to come out with a great start. The rest of the pack will be slow and struggle for the first couple of minutes. Better to start a little away from the fray, say 1/4 or 1/3 of the way from an end with space and room to leeward especially early in the regatta. A good start is one that allows you to go straight for 3-4 minutes without being forced to tack. Many moons ago I was sailing in a 20+ fleet of One Design 35’s. On many of Key West racing circles the left side is favored in prevailing conditions. Win the pin, beat feet to the left and win the race. Of course it didn’t take very long for everyone to figure this out which made starting at the pin to go left nearly impossible. (Made more difficult by our own lack of competence). Our tactician (local Annapolis sailor Mark Hillman) came up with an unusual winning strategy. We started on port, ducking as much of the crowd as we had too, went 200 yards and tacked. Now we had clear air and a lane to go left. Relying on the slow pace of the clump struggling off the pin, we were able to roll over the lot and get to front row on the left.