Saturday, June 9, 2012

Back to Basics

I had my first ever paid dinghy sailing lesson last weekend - a couple of hours with our young sailing instructor watching me do the basics and giving advice.  Very worthwhile - nothing beats an objective observer giving good input.

He helped me improve my gybes (OK, to be accurate, he helped my gybes become slightly less chaotic improvisation). Basically he corrected 2 things. First, I was sheeting in  before gybing, thinking I was being prudent (OK, chicken), but which only slowed things down. He urged me to go faster and keep the speed up with a relatively slow turn.  For the gybe itself, he urged me to watch the sail and when it just starts to lose its shape, straighten the tiller and to wait for the clew to start to flap before giving the little jerk on the main sheet as I crossed over.  I practiced broad reaching around a gybe mark, keeping the speed up through the gybe. I caught the sheet on the transom a few times before concentrating on the clew as he suggested - then it went fine.

On my reaches, I knew intellectually that the boat should remain flat, but after watching me he took a little video which showed me that what I thought was flat was far from it.  The flat boat must be the priority. For overpowering, hike out first and stay hiked out, letting out the sheet if necessary and bearing off during lulls in order to keep boat speed up.  Of course the extended hiking part quickly takes its toll on the abs and thighs, but it works great while the abs and thighs last.

For downwind, he suggested sitting back in order to keep the bow up - which is contrary to what others say. Not sure I agree, but his logic was that the risk of the bow plowing into a wave is worse than the smooth transom dragging a bit.

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