When starting a conventional race, I like using a time-run approach. Plan to be on the start line two minutes before the start, then sail away on a reciprocal course to what you’ll use when you approach the line for real. At one minute, 10 seconds before the start, tack or jibe and maneuver back toward the line, preferably on a starboard tack so you’ll have right of way over any port tackers you encounter. The tack or jibe will take about 20 seconds. At this point, accelerate to full speed toward the line. Try to stay away from other boats when you make your final approach. If you seem to be early, ease out your sails to slow down, but make sure you are sailing at full speed when the gun sounds. Often the right-hand side of the line will tend to be more crowded, so you can find room for more comfortable maneuvering if you pick a point closer to the pin (the buoy marking the other end of the starting line).