Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tracking The Shifts

The low tech method for tracking wind shifts (see "Left Is Lower"), can help you predict the wind shifts in an oscillating breeze or persistent shift. This early detection can give you an advantage to your competitors.

In an oscillating breeze the wind shifts from one side of the course and will shift back again at a somewhat regular interval. It is important to stay in phase with these shifts. By the low tech method you can determine by how many degrees the wind shift will be and you will be able to determine if you are on a header (the wind shift that pushes you farther from the mark) and how much that header will cause you to fall off from the mark. Tracking the phase of the wind shifts will allow you to stay on the lifted tack longer (the wind shift that takes you closer to the mark).

By continually tacking to stay on the lifted tack you will reach the mark faster. Each header you encounter pushes you farther away from the mark. Tack a few boatlengths into the header to be sure it is a stable header. Foot off a few degrees and dig the bow in to the water (gaining speed for the tack) then tack over and catch the lift.

Tracking the wind shifts with the low tech method will enable you to recognize a persistent wind shift (the wind continually tracks to one side of the course) and play the shifts wisely. Winds shifts if played well can gain tactical and pointing gains on your competitors.

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