Race Day Notes, 9-04

Today was a w/sw wind from 4-10 knots, oscillating 20 degrees, or sometimes more, around the center of our race course, and in a rare achievement we set the race course from the get-go pretty well right in the middle of this wind, so no marks were ever moved. This has almost never happened before; normally we are moving marks quite a bit to find good racing. Teams were asked to focus 1 or 2 things with their strategy and tactics, and not results, and afterward to digest how thing went.
That said, the first race showed why trusting a favored end so heavily in an oscillating wind is problematic, as most all boats stacked up at the boat end. Sure enough, the breeze trended left and FJ1, Mariner and Ryan, were free and able to sail clean and fast off the line, while almost everyone else was bunched up and struggled for a clear lane. FJ1 really never looked back after this, and showed what good starts (clear air, moving fast, and the ability to tack when they wanted to), experience, patience, and superior boat handling can do. Except for a 30+ degree shift on the second beat of the 3rd race, they were dominant and mostly flawless today.
Many teams had good/great moments today and good races. No one could ever be expected to win all races in a day like today. The positive overall is that everyone has the capability to do well; the small things, attention to detail, flawless boat handling, and positive, forward outlook separate the winners from everyone else.

Notes:

  • first race, most boats stayed locked into their lane too long, and too passively. Some of this felt like a non-tacking windsprint. You must be willing to tack, which also means you must have excellent tacks (great boat handling) to get free and sail your own race.
  • Downwind in first race the entire fleet sailed far too passively (no gybes or wing on/off) for far too long, seeming to want to simply hold on rather than trust making moves to improve positioning
  • Look back downwind always; dont gybe around the offset simply because the boat ahead of you did. Do it because it’s positioning you for the next puff.
  • Often in HS/College sailing, it’s better to sail to wind rather than simply sail on the lifted tack. The wind will always shift back, and the speed differential today in puffs and lulls was compelling.
  • This is also vitally true downwind. Protect your clear air, but also wing on whenever possible and fight to be where the most wind is going to be.
  • Leeward gate roundings provided the best lesson; experienced teams with good roundings almost always gained, because they set themselves up to be able to tack.
  • Having a good start is never a bad thing. Work on your timing and acceleration; if you are free at the start and going fast that’s better than being slow at the favored end in many cases.
  • Never battle with one boat on a long tack simply to beat out one boat. In doing so you’ve lost sight of what’s ahead.
  • work on jib trim; many younger teams ease the leeward sheet too much when up to speed; too much weather sheet and not enough leeward sheet is death to height
  • when someone fouls you, protest them. When you foul, acknowledge and take your penalty. That said, staying out of starting trouble, judge/umpire trouble, and foul trouble is an essential trait for championship teams. You almost never win in a foul situation, even if you win the protest.
  • In racing like today, and in most HS regattas, you will find your lead shrink or evaporate through no fault of your own. Never give up, it may well come right back, and don’t ever let frustration beat you. Keep sailing where you are as well as you can and wait for others to either make mistakes or get a bad shift or lull.
  • Always keep your mind open, reassess, and never compound mistakes by wallowing in them or becoming complacent.

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