Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good Problems

I raced a Kestrel again yesterday and there were two things that I thought would be a problem but actually turned out to be good learning experiences. And I beat the other Kestrels on the water.

First, I had a novice sailor with me as a crew.  I didn't even bother taking the spinnaker pole, but luckily no one else used a spinnaker either because they also had novice crew, and so that wasn't a problem.  Having the novice crew, I was forced to explain very carefully beforehand each maneuver step by step which meant I had to plan and think ahead.  Sure, I am supposed to always do that - approaching a mark I should always be thinking about the next leg and how to round the mark, where the other boats are approaching the mark, etc, etc - but sometimes it is easy to get distracted and I take a shortcut in this department.   But having a novice crew meant that I could not allow myself the luxury of being so sloppy and I had to verbalize everything - "OK, we are getting near the mark.  Do you see any other boats? coming from where?  when we get to the mark we will go just to the right of it and sail a short distance beyond since the tide is pushing us back and then tack very soon after. Remember that means you will let the jib sheet off and as we go around you will watch out for the boom and go to the other side and bring in the other jib sheet, but we will be on a reach so don't bring it in too far - got it?"

Second, the wind indicator which is inserted in the head of the sail got stuck and was not able to turn at all, so I sailed without any indication of wind direction other than the telltales on the sails.  I initially thought thought this would be a disaster but it wasn't - it actually made me pay more attention to how the boat feels. Going upwind I did pay a lot of attention to the jib telltales but reaching and running I relied mostly on how things felt.  Sure, I probably got it wrong more times than I would have with a working wind indicator but I was surprised at how often I seemed to get it right. And the more that happens the better it will be.

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