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1: Introduction to racing

Ask a dozen different people what racing means to them, and youíll probably get a dozen different answers. A common thread, however, would be that itís a chance to escape from the stresses and worries of day-to-day life. Even in a race lasting less than one hour, the concentration level can be such that youíre completely unaware of the rate at which time is passing ó or of anything outside the race.

For others itís also a chance to be in the open air and reconnect with the natural elements. For some itís a chance to grab some time alone; for others itís more about teamwork and being sociable. At the same time, there are so many different elements of the sport: many dinghy racers, for instance, have no urge to race offshore, while equally, some of the most successful ocean racers have never set foot in a dinghy.

Yet others happily swap between totally disparate boats at a whim ó witness Volvo Ocean Race skipper Sebastian Josse sailing a foiling Moth at the Melbourne race stopover, or Americaís Cup navigator Ian Moore racing his radio-controlled Laser. Other top sailors also choose to go cruising on non-performance boats.

Writer Mark Rushall, is one of many well-known racers with a cruising boat ó in his case a 28ft wooden classic from the 1960s. Even at some of the most prestigious events thereís a huge range of old and new classes. For instance, the second-largest class at Skandia Cowes Week is the X-One Design, which will celebrate its centenary in just three yearís time, while the largest is the SB3, less than a decade old. So, how do you choose?


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Thereís a bewildering choice of boats in some countries

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