Can someone please tell me how to start a race properly? Basically everyone I sail with and against started in the junior classes where they get coaching on that kind of thing so they are all really good at it. I never sailed the junior classes & have never had any coaching (our state yachting association doesn't care unless you sail an olympic class). Therefore I don't have the first clue how to start a race properly. I've read heaps of books etc about it but it never seems to make a difference. I don't know how to choose where to start on the line - I just sail along until it almost time to go and then say 'oh well, here looks good'. I know the racing rules of sailing but because I don't have a clue what I'm doing when it comes to starting I always wind up in a really bad spot - eg. last weekend I ended up on port tack in the second row of the start, which would have been fine if a skiff hadn't decided to tack onto port underneath us. They then proceeded to push us up, so I went up until I was about to have a head-on with the starboard tack boats coming the other way - obviously I couldn't bear up any more then and I think this would come under Rule 16.1 - the give way boat has to have room to keep clear. I did not. Consequently I copped a tirade of abuse and profanities and a bow-sprit inside our boat. Not really sure where they wanted me to go. They had plenty of clear water underneath them so it wasn't like they were being pushed up as well or anything. They hit us (no damage caused) then I finally saw a gap and tacked (whilst being abused and screamed at to tack by them) and ended up not being able to swap sides after the tack due to their bow-sprit being in our boat again. They then bore up so they were to windward, bore away and hit us again and then sailed off (the gun had gone by then). Didn't protest them because we protested a skiff a week before for attempting to run us over and they basically got away with it (the club is in love with skiffs) so we figured there was no point in wasting our money on the protest fee. I have lost count of the amount of times I've been abused and screamed at on the start line, simply because I just don't know how to get into a good spot. Every time I try someone pushes me into another boat, across the line or into the start boat, so I just don't understand how you are meant to get a front row start without that happening. Any tips would be great!