Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Start | Starting Strategies : Resources

As promised here is an brief list of resources on the net that pertain to starting strategies. Hope they help. I compare starting strategies in sailing to the game of learning the opening moves you can usally predict what your opponent's next move will be so I will be studying them and watching for them on the race course.

I will be continually searching for more, look for another post on resources later when I have exhausted my ideas for posts on starts.

Performance Racing Tactics : Bill Gladestone
Starts are one of the most exciting and challenging parts of any race. To succeed amidst the chaos we will firsts need a starting plan. Then we will need to execute the plan despite all the distractions.

Port-Tack Starts Zack Leonard
With less than 50 seconds to go before the start of the fourth race of the 1996 Tornado Worlds, I was starting to feel a little nervous. It wasn't the normal pre-race jitters. Myself and two American teammates—Johnny Lovell and Lars Guck—were all luffing on port tack, two boatlengths below the pin end of the line. Collectively, we were wondering why the whole fleet was bunched up at the boat end of the line on starboard almost 100 yards away.

Tactics and Strategy of Gate Starts : Michael Goldstein
Michael Goldstein asked the 505world-list e-mail list about gate starts. Here are some collected responses.

Tactics and Strategy Scott Nixon
Strategy is determined by how you play the wind, waves and current on the racecourse. It is basically how you sail your boat around the course.

Tactics are determined by how you sail your boat according to the other moves of the fleet and how you deal with the competition on the racecourse

Adapting from the Match Race Crowd : Dean Brenner
Since the Olympic Trials in June of 2000, I have focused the majority of my sailing efforts on match racing and team racing, rather than fleet racing. In addition to being a ton of fun, both these disciplines require more emphasis on boat-to-boat tactics, rather than big-picture strategy.

Win The Pin with Match Racing Moves : Betsy Alison
If the pin is favored, many sailors will jockey for the perfect pin start. The ability to leg out on starboard below the fleet or to tack and cross the competition is an advantage worth fighting for.

Pre-Start Strategy: Know the Laylines to the Starting Line Andrew Kerr
You are reaching around the starting line- 12 minutes to the gun. The line is set and unrestricted. What to do? A very useful routine to develop that is widely used by match racers is to define the laylines on a closehauled course to both ends of the line.

Starting and Finishing: Olympic Games 1996
With half an hour to the start continue taking wind bearings and familiarise yourself with the conditions of the day by doing practice beats with other boats. Make sure you have the correct settings for the conditions and do not start making major alterations to your rig unless you have tried them before.

How to Carve Out Your Spot On the Line David Dellenbaugh
No matter what kind of boat you sail or what the conditions are like, there are some basic things you need to do well in order to get consistently good starts. First, you have to decide where you want to start on the line. Second, you must have some reliable way of knowing where the line is. Beyond this, you need a bunch of good boat-on-boat tactics to help you carve out your spot on the line and stay in control of your start. Here are some moves you should consider:

How to Take Your Competitor Head-to-Wind
With good positioning, taking your competitor head-to-wind can be an effective pre-start strategy.

Racing Practice - Starting Drills (taken from a note on the
Practice drills for sharpening skills, individual and team drills.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Life on the Proper Course

I want to thank Tillerman and Proper Course for the positive feedback about the Skips Blog. In a recent post, Tillerman mentions one of my current additions "Thinking Inside the Box" and refers to the originality of the method. The method is not mine to take credit for, it was acquired during in-class instructions. Which brings me around to the Proper Course.

My many thanks go out to Tillerman for taking up the rewarding task of instilling knowledge and helping develop and mould the raw passion for the sport of sailing in the generations of kids that he has taught (including his own). There is no better way to make use of knowledge then to share it, and no one better to share it with then children. Tillerman has been sailing and racing for much longer than I have and is a veteran at the sport. He is a Laser and Sunfish sailor and racer and has a passion for sailing and a craving for knowledge about sailing similar to mine.

I have two children (3 and 6), who I hope, will develop the overwhelming bug for sailing that I have. I have much to learn from Tillerman and the Proper Course, among the not to turn your kids off of sailing or get in the way of sailing instruction (some great anecdotes by the way).

The blog Proper Course has been on my blog list of sailing blogs from the start. My hope is that like him, I will be able to contribute to the success of someone, somewhere; even if it is just in some small way, it will be worth it. Nothing makes a better sailor and better racing then better competition.

Tillerman writing style is earnest and casual. Posts are anecdotal and interlaced with personal insights, opinions and stories which cover many topics but always display his passion for sailing. One day I too hope to "Live Slow and Sail Fast"!

Please visit the Proper Course blog. This well written blog is definitely time well spent. He has had a short hiatus, but seems to be back up and writing now. Welcome back and looking forward to your posts.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Frostbite Series Results Are In

Just checked the board at the club and the results are in for the Frostbite series. We managed a 6th place overall for the series!

The series ended with a neck in neck finish with another boat, that turns out was in our division. On the water we were the leeward boat and our sight of the line was obscured (that was the race with the shortened line where the makeshift pin was a boat from the fleet. When the horn went off and, 5 seconds later it went off again I thought we were the latter horn and lost the race. Turns out we were the ones that crossed first and we did not owe our competition time!

Great job crew! Looking forward to next season already!

The Start | Starting Strategies : Offbeat Starts

My earlier post recalled getting caught off-guard on an offbeat start. Looking back at the race I recall heading out to one side but had not committed to that side of the course. I was looking for an opportunity to get back to the middle of the course. We did have a good jump off the start but suffered windshadow from the fleet as I tried to square off.

I should have went higher to get clear and avoid shadow and wait for a point to gybe over once I had a clear lane. Bill Gladstone has written this article on offbeat starts (an excerpt from his book) which I will be purchasing in the near future.

He has some great strategies for these types of starts. There are very resources available that cover these scenarios. Most strategy and tactics deal with likely scenarios.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Against the Grain

Gathering resources and sites today to compile a comprehensive list of links to articles on starts and strategies. Next post will be about offbeat starts; reaching and running starts. Although they are not the norm they do occur in club racing. I think it was our first race, (first race of the season...boat and as a crew) the last race in the 2005 Spring Series (Unfortunately I did not make notes of this race). The wind shifted 180 deg. as we were waiting for the start and we ended up on starting on a run. I started the race on a broad reach while the remainder of the division flew spinnaker. We managed to get a good jump in front at the RC boat. We had not yet flown the spinnaker in a race, and encountered quite a few problems during the launch and fell to the back of the pack by the time we had the spinnaker flying.

The biggest problem we encountered was confusion. We were not prepared mentally or physically for a reach or run start. Again it is one of those mistakes you only make once.

I have a good list of resources now on starts which I will share with you shortly. Links to articles by a number of top sailors.
Each article is in-depth and has different tactics and strategies that you can practice and implement. They all follow the golden principles of clean air, good position and strategy off the start. Hope you will find them as informative as I have. Stay tuned for the post.

The Box...In pdf format

Sorry to all those who attempted to view the flash file of "Thinking Inside the Box" and were unable to zoom in on it to view the wind speeds noted.

I have posted a PDF version of the file at the bottom of the original post. Please send me any feedback regarding the graphics I have uploaded to date. Please let me know if the graphics are useful. If I get enough feedback I can tailor them to suit the needs of the Skips Blog readers.

While I am at it just extending a thank you for all of those who do read on a regular basis...and those first time readers as well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Start | Thinking Inside the Box

Thinking inside this box will help you mentally get an idea of your pre-start strategic area...the space you want to concentrate you efforts on when in pre-race maneuvers.

Picture an imaginary box (that can be expanded or contracted depending on wind strength) that is based on the starting line and extends outward from the centre past the pin and RC ends, and extends depth wise below the line (see this diagram It's all here for you). This is your starting box.

Your chances of a good start will increase if you focus your pre-race maneuvers within this box. In light winds, ten boatlengths out, if you tack or jibe to try and gain a windward advantage, chances are you will have lost whatever advantage you may have had by the time you get within the 2 boatlength box.

The general rule is lighter and dying breezes, stick closer to the line...Heavier and building breezes head farther out to gain and maintain speed and maneuverability.

When in heavier breezes drop your jib while waiting in the box or until early in the pre-race maneuver stage to avoid over taking and jibing and tiring out the crew. Raise the jib 10 minutes before your start. That way if you are on 5 minute starts you have time to correct and trim accord to wind conditions.

download the pdf version

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Lure of The Dinghy

Racing with a crew takes teamwork. Each crew member has their strengths and weaknesses that need to be built upon and worked around respectively.

On a dinghy it is you and you alone who decides the outcome of the race. There is something very humbling about dinghy racing. It is also where a sailor can learn the most about sailing. Weight is so crucial on the dinghy. Slight shifts can make a huge difference. It is also one of the best rides in sailing....small boat and very fast.

I was surfing about and came across the site the horse's mouth (mostly wet version) which carries some fantastic video of dinghy racing. In particular was this little clip of 49er's on Lago di Garda.

The flying moth caught my attention while checking these sites out. Extremely cool design and very fast. It looks like a modified 49'er with hydrofoil attachments. Check the video out on Rohan Veal Racing. Very cool, very wet, fun and fast!! What else could you want in a boat.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Performance Racing Tactics

Much of my blog is dedicated to tactics and strategy. It goes hand in hand with boat handling and is the key, I think, to gaining the winning edge and consistently finishing in the top. The more I search on the net for tactics and strategy the more I realize that there is not a lot out there.

What I do find I will post and hopefully this site will save many hours of trudging through endless searches. So far Gary Jobson's book Championship Sailing has been a valuable source of concise and centrally located information.

I have been finding quite a few articles by Bill Gladstone online as well. He has a number of books available at Amazon, one I particular that I believe these articles are from Performance Racing Tactics.

If I can get my hands on this book I will let you know how it is. Have a feeling it will be good. The articles seem to go into quite a bit of detail and have accompanying illustration as a visual aid.