Hail to the Bow

The role of the bow person is multidimensional; the person on the pointy-end has a tough job and has to be fast and efficient at all times.
Bella Mente readys for a spinnaker hoist at Key West Race Week. Sara Proctor

After racing three races in some big breeze on Day 1 of Quantum Key West Race Week, Tom Burnham, Pitman for TP52, Quantum Racing, bowman Greg Gendell of Quantum Racing, and Doogie Couvreux, bowman on Bella Mente shared some tips and tricks to make the bow maneuvers fast and flawless.

Here are just a few tips that they shared. When seconds count, every little bit matters!

  • Communication is Key — This point cannot be emphasized enough. From a J/70 to a Maxi 72, the bowman must always be in communication with the rest of the team, for boats, distance and time, the bowman is the eyes of the boat at the start of every race.
  • Pre-start – Think of time versus boat lengths. Time on distance is a major aspect of the bowman’s job. Starts can be won or blown by a bowman who can quickly and accurately determine time and distance to the starting line.
  • Think Ahead – Look up from the bow, and anticipate the tactical and strategic decisions that are coming next. Don’t wait to be told what to do next!
  • Setup the sails in the same spot – Setting up your sails in the same spot is key for consistency. Have a home base for your sail set up.
  • Double-check and Triple-check settings – When setting up sails, rigging and any other settings, always double-check your setup to make sure everything will go smoothly on hoist one. Always be ready to make last-minute changes! Have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.