Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shooting the Line

In yesterday's race I successfully shot the finish line - something I have read about but never really done before.

The rest of the race was nothing to write home about - a poor start and then to pile ignomy on top of that, I started to go toward the wrong mark at one point.  Not glorious.

But, back to the positive note.  As I was on the last upwind, heading for the finish. I was coming in on port with a colleague to my left and slightly ahead.  I saw the opportunity and hiked for all I was worth, which gained me a bit but I was still not where I needed to be, so I decided to try shooting the line.  I did so, bearing off just a tiny bit to get a last bit of speed and then luffing up as late as I dared, hoping I had timed it right - I had and I finished about a half a boat length ahead of my colleague. 

Wow, that felt good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Protest or Not

As I get more and more into the world of judging, I wonder about the role of the Rules/protests/hearings etc. at the Club level.

In our Club we have no history at all of protests/hearing. There is occasionally a bit of high-volume discussion on the water and then a rehash of the event over beer after, usually with a consensus about who broke the rule.

Is that the best course? Some say we should have more real protests as a way of learning and gaining experience with the whole process.  Others are happy to just let things continue as they have been.

I have mixed feelings. I certainly don’t want our Club to become confrontational and tied up in acrimonious disputes.  On the other hand, I do think it would be a very good learning experience for our members to be more attentive to the Rules and understand them better.   Due to my interest in the rules and the judging experience, members come to me for advice and I am glad to give it, but that is not the same as a more formal hearing – which doesn’t have to be a really adversarial proceeding, but which would let people see how difficult it may be to determine what happened.

What does your Club do? What is the best approach?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Judges Seminar

Last week I attended an ISAF International Judges Seminar at the Polski Związek Żeglarski (Polish Yachting Association) in Gdansk Poland.  It was a really great experience.

First, there was an excellent instructor - Josje Hofland from the Netherlands.  I had met her at the ISAF World Cup in Abu Dhabi and knew she was a very patient judge with in-depth knowledge.  She did a great job teaching, especially since she had to do it alone since the other IJ scheduled to come had a nasty fall on his boat the day before and couldn't come.  I particularly appreciated the emphasis on the "soft" skills necessary beyond a good knowledge of the rules. Also, like all good judges, she was never hesitant to admit that some issues do not have a crystal clear answer or that she might be wrong.

There were 19 students from all over the world and it was really invigorating to meet them and to see their enthusiasm not only for sailing but also for judging. There were some really geeky, but enjoyable moments when we were trying to solve a problem  all delving into the RRS and Casebook, drawing diagrams and stretching our brains. I know that this sort of activity may not be every sailor's dream, but for those of us interested in such things it was really fun.

And the accomodations were interesting - we were lodged 2 to a room in rooms with a bunk bed and single bed - like being back in summer camp. 

But, once again as I discover the world of race officials, I understand better how much work behind the scenes is involved in a successful regatta.  And the fact that most of this work is unpaid, volunteer work makes it even more valuable.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Good Choice

One of the reasons dinghy sailing is the best sport in the world is the mix of physical and mental.

Which means that occasionally sailors with less boat speed (like me) can profit from a good tactical choice.  I don't mean precision mathematical analysis such as described by Ian of Laser Salience and others -  there are frankly too many other things on the water that get my attention before I can think about such precision.  But sometimes a little observation pays off.

In yesterday's race, the outgoing tide was quite a factor and everyone had to pay attention to it.  I was in a pack of 4 behind the leader and as we rounded the gybe mark to go to the leeward mark against the current, we all stayed far right, against the seawall and outside the channel, hoping the adverse current would be less there.   Since all of us went basically the same route, we really didn't know if it was the best route or not.

On the next leg, I saw the boats slightly ahead of me who went closest to the wall were struggling a bit and so I went a bit further out, even though I was closer to the channel.  I was not struggling as much. Obviously the presence of the seawall was reinforcing the adverse current next to it.

On the final leg, coming again to the gybe mark, with the current even stronger, I thought I still might risk going much further out. As we rounded, one of my friends immediately rounded up and headed for the middle of the channel in a straight line to the leeward mark. That removed any doubt and I did likewise.  When we got to the leeward mark we were at least 100 meters ahead of the other two who had been slightly ahead of us. It was amazing.

As for the race, however, I was OCS and hadn't realised it. But still fun and good practice with a satisfying feeling at the end.
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