The opti race team competed at Columbia YC this past weekend -- the last regatta of the season for most.
Some of the sailors were disappointed with their final results; however, I want to remind you that progress is not perfection. I saw an improvement with each and every sailor, whether that was on the starting line, leeward mark roundings, fleet management, or boat speed! It's so easy to get caught up with numbers and results, but it's important to establish mini goals. This will help establish a sense of accomplishment (which is typically harder to see/feel within yourself).
This was a tricky venue, but fun! On both days, the puffs were clearly visible on the water, and we were working on thinking two steps ahead.
- The line was SO short -- which means we have to be earlier and more aggressive!
- Being a Shark vs. Minnow -- Minnows set up on the line earlier, and have a “home”— They protect their spot/hole from the sharks. Sharks come in later and try to steal the minnow’s hole. Think about times in which you may want to be a shark vs. minnow. Maybe the fleet is more aggressive. Maybe the fleet is setting up too late and you have to be a minnow.
- With persistent right shifts, we needed to be able to stay on starboard after go. Meaning, we had to really focus on being in that first row, and maintaining our point, proper sail trim, and boat speed up for that first 30 seconds-1minute
- With persistent left shifts, we needed to plan ahead for the ability to tack right off of the line. On Sunday, sailors could not even make the pin from the boat, meaning HUGE lefty and not a square line. Instead of having a hole to leeward, we want to create our hole to windward! We got better with this as the day went on. I found that sailors were tacking onto port too late, and would wait for ‘go.’ Jump the gun, and get up to the line on port, since you know people won’t be able to call starboard on you! They won’t be able to reach you. Be smart about this though.
- The race course was also extremely short — 1st race lasted 6 minutes long.... This means that we have to begin thinking about our approach to the windward mark sooner.
- Questions to ask yourself:
- Is it too risky to come in on the port lay line?
- How can I position myself on starboard lay line to pick up one or two boats?
- Which side of the top of the course has more pressure? What can I use to bring me across the middle (is there a big puff I can connect to? or am I in the biggest shift right now?
- On Sunday with the persistent left shift, you have to ask yourself how you can get over to the mark which is now over to your left (since you all paraded out on port from the starting line). Think about taking any little shift over to the other side or pressure! Find the pressure!
Also, START THINKING AHEAD FOR THE DONWIND.
- You should know if you are going to hold on starboard after the windward mark, or if you will have to gybe onto port right around the mark.
- Because the course was so skewed, we needed to recognize that early gybe around the mark was KEY!!! I saw people holding on starboard for too long, then having to reach up to the mark, giving boats inside overlap, and causing our sailors to round on the outside of the pin wheel. Not good…
- On such a short course, you have to fight for the inside at the leeward mark. That means, protecting the boats behind you, but also recognizing that you can pick up a few boats ahead of you by “jumping" them to the zone. Work hard to get inside overlap (all you need is a bit of overlap with their rudder and you are golden).
- Be careful tacking early around the mark if there is still a fleet of boats coming downwind. Remember that light breeze goes around the fleet (towards the edges of the race course).
- Be patient! Many sailors got anxious on the second upwind and starting tacking too much! I saw this quite frequently between the boats in 1st and 2nd. You have to trust that you are smart. You have to try to outsmart the other boat. If they tack before the puff, and they are not getting the max pressure of the puff, just extend into the puff to reach that max pressure.
- When I’m in this position (battling it out with another boat regardless of which place you are in), I think — is there something that the other boat is not doing that I can do better? Are their tacks slow/bad where I can engage him in a tacking duel and beat him off of boat handling? Is he extending out to the wrong side of the race course? Is he tacking shy of the puffs and not digging into them? Or, do I have to forget about this boat and just protect my position within the rest of the fleet?
- With the finish line to the right of the race committee boat, that early gybe is key. Let’s recognize this before the race even starts!
- We still need to work on consistent windward heel on the downwinds… perhaps we just need to eat more burgers :)
Thank you for such a great season, and for inviting me to join you all this fall. Looking forward to working with you at Midwinters! Please let me know if you have any further questions.