Ready Position: your go-to position while on the start
It is super important to have good form in ready position to minimize side slipping and hold your spot. Never heel to windward: keep the boat flat for the full use of the centreboard. Always sit across the boat squatting on your toes (as opposed to facing the bow). Putting the weight on your toes is related to keeping the boat flat because if you sit back on your butt the boat heels to windward.
Keep an eye out for changing situations, people coming to steel your hole, an opportunity to double tack, line sag etc. Know where the line is and how it is changing (this can also inform your strategy for the first upwind). Recognize bad situations as they develop and bail out or take advantage.
Reverse to Windward
I don’t know what else to call it, but it is a brilliant move that we were introduced to. It relies on the fact that foils can produce lift or at least engage nicely moving forwards OR backwards. Foils only don’t work when you are sitting static on the line like we mostly tend to do gradually drifting to leeward through the start sequence. Let me describe reversing to windward.
1 -Turn up straight into irons and wait until you have no forward motion
2 - Leaning to leeward, press the sail way out of the boat: 90 degrees to centre line. Get a lot of backwards speed. Hold your tiller tight.
You heel to leeward because the power that comes from pushing the boom out often wants to put you onto port tack but you want to stay on starboard throughout the maneuvre.
3 - As you accelerate backwards push your tiller gently away from you and you will coast backwards and to windward in an arc gradually making it to a backwards beam reach.
4 - On a beam reach coast to a stop with the sail flapping. You need a long mainsheet for the sail not to keep pushing you forward. If your mainsheet isn't long enough you might need to reverse at a lower angle.
You are now stopped in a position astern and to windward of your original position.
5 - Heel to leeward, sheet in and steer to windward. Turn sharply and flatten powerfully steering up to head to wind (or even shooting up briefly beyond head to wind).
You are now bow-even with your initial position but you have climbed to windward!
Downspeed Control Settings
Lots of people go sailing upwind before the start to get their settings just right and then they leave their controls for the start sequence. Or they leave their cunningham and outhaul on and let their vang off completely. This means that you don't need to make any adjustments during the tense seconds leading up to GO except possibly your vang. Unfortnatly it also means that your sails are set in a way that limits the effectiveness of the downspeed manoeuvring. What you can do is put markers on your outhaul, Cunningham and vang for various settings. You should still sail upwind before the start, but instead of leaving the controls make a note of your setting. Then when you are double tacking, reversing and spinning on a dime to get set up your perfect start you can change your settings to downspeed settings that will help you execute the maneuvres. With 15 seconds left, pull on your lines back on to the settings that you noted for upwind by using the markers and your memory (or your notes written in grease pencil on the deck) and go to accelerate.
The idea of leaving your controls at their upwind settings at the start is outdated because we are starting to understand how critical the start is and downspeed maneuvers at the start can be performed more effectively with appropriate downspeed control settings. Play around with how much vang you need to power you through a 360 or to keep your bow from falling off the wind (more vang tightens your leach bringing the effort in your sail back and helping pivot your bow up. Less vang will make it easier to get out of irons if it is windy). We were finding that an effective vang setting for downspeed (at least in 6 knots) is for the boom to be pulled down to 90 degrees. This gives the boat a much different feeling and handling than having it completely loose. Also, don’t stand for wrinkles up the front of the sail from a tight upwind-setting Cunningham. You want your sail to be working properly to help power through the various downspeed boathandling maneuvres. Don't put up with awkward sail adjustments before the start. Many races are won or lost at the start because of how well you were able to execute your downspeed skills to get to the right place at the right time.