Once you leave the dock, the same applies to watching the wind. Track changes in the wind by recording compass readings, including the time. Then, well before the start, study the water carefully. Look for dark patches of water indicating more wind or a significant current effect. Study one section of the horizon at a time, standing up so you have a greater height of eye. Use polarized sunglasses because they help contrast the color of the water, and let your eyes blink naturally. There are many sources to use when reading the wind: flags, smoke stacks on shore, cruising sailboats, birds taking off, ripples on the water, the direction of anchored boats, as well as your competitors. Look to see if the boats on one side are heeling in more wind.
When you look upwind, split the leg into three sections: left, middle, and right. After a couple of minutes of study, make a guess as to which side seems better. Select a section to head for, and state your findings aloud—this is part of giving yourself the courage to make a choice. Your first instinct will usually be correct.