Friday, August 26, 2005

First Windward Approach

The first windward mark is a crucial point in the race. You can gain lost ground, or maintain and protect your lead. Our biggest problems have been hoisting and flying the spinnaker rounding the first mark. It is important when training a new crew to make adjustments to solid techniques that make the overall process of rounding the mark work.

The J World course instructs it's trainees to set the pole and gybe in a way that is most the most efficient with the least amount of movement on the boat. After running dry runs at the dock setting the pole and on water drills I was able to comprehend the reasoning behind the technique.

What I found when trying to apply these techniques on Gray Jay was that while they were sound techniques they were not easily mastered by the crew. Recently we had guest crew aboard for the last few races of the summer series. Each guest crew had different techniques for setting and hoisting the spinnaker. One revised technique is setting the guy into the pole prior to leaving dock. This way it is set and the foredeck can concentrate on pre-feed and hoisting. The second adjustment to our standard set up is just after we tack to starboard on the layline the pole is made and the topping lift attached. Just as we make the turn to round the mark the topping lift is raised and the pole is set. These adjustments to techniques have made a huge difference in our roundings.

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