Having raced in a mixed fleet local races a few years ago with Ereina: The technique for the first couple of years seamed to be – establish position at the back of the fleet and make sure nobody gets behind you. However, thinks did start to improve with the experience of racing most weekends through the summers and we even won a few.
I would not recommend an outboard (we did this for a year): you want to keep the weight out of the end of the boat. Also you will worry all through the race if there is any amount of wind on how you are going to manage coming into harbour and picking up your mooring: Ereina would not turn to port with the power so any sharp turns had to be to starboard. We had the new inboard fitted with a high pitch twin blade prop. which we alined with the steg and rudder while racing, although now I would go for a folding one like Trevor’s Calista (the faster you go the more the drag increases at a greater factor).
To further keep the weight out of the ends the ceramic and brass heads has been replaced with a portapotty (with pump out). During races we would store the anchour and chain between the front end of the keels. Also the inflatable, unless left on the mooring.
Keels – experiment – I would normally have the leeward one slightly kicked further back to lessen weather helm as the boat heels.
Mast rake – when you are hanging a weight from the top of the mast to calculate this it will be different if the keels are fully up or down. Any amount of rake appeared to increase weather helm (3/4 rig).
I wouldn’t change to full rig having sailed on both. The full rig is faster in light to moderate winds, but in higher winds we could claw away further to windward. We do have a light weight jib that we can fly from the masthead in light winds when just off the wind. I would like to try a masthead spinnaker at some point.
Keel box rubbers – these must be in good condition, turbulence in the keel boxes really slows you down.
I wouldn’t mess with the keels – you end up with a boat that is not an Atalanta. However, saying that I am going to try winching them with an 18v rechargeable drill, it would certainly be quicker at lowering.
There are lots of small tweaks that all add up, but in light winds they do not perform as fast as a lot of the plastic boats. In very light winds try joss sticks as a wind indicator (makes the boat smell nice and causes amusement as you drift past).
Would love to do the Round the Island Race in a year or two.