Thursday, June 6, 2013

Outside the Box

Today was the first of a 3 day Laser clinic at our Club with Kostas Trigonis, a world champion Tornado sailor and ex-Olympian 470 sailor and the cousin of one of our members.

We had seven of us on the water and today we did a number of drills - sausages, upwind-downwind races and 3 mark races - all over very short courses with Kostas taking a video of much of it.  There is a  wide variety of skills in the group but we had a lot of fun and were thoroughly tired after about 2 1/2 hours - the summer heat is beginning now and today was about 41. That drains energy.

In the debrief after with the videos, the mark roundings were shown to be a very common problem - not going wide and coming out close. As Kostas said, if you are on a bicycle or in a car and you want to turn left you first go a bit right and then turn.  Why did the marks have such a magnetic power, pulling everyone close?  Another common mistake - during the mark roundings, many of us (I plead guilty) had a tendency to be looking down in to the cockpit at the sheet, hiking strap, the mainsheet block, water bottle or whatever was so interesting there - instead of doing the obvious and natural thing that you do when you are turning on a bicycle or in a car - looking where you are going.  

He talked about staying in the box of the laylines, of course, but he had an interesting example where going outside a bit could be clever.  He gave the example of a port tacker headed for the upwind mark with a starboard tacker coming his way. If the port tacker is right on the lay line and has to duck the starboard tacker, then he falls behind. If however the port tacker is slightly above the layline he can bear off a bit as the starboard tacker approaches and give him a false angle. Very often inexperienced sailors will fall for this and think that the port tacker is on the layline headed for the mark, and will tack.  Then the port tacker may well be able to come up to the layline and reach the mark before the other who will have to tack twice.


  1. Juking the starboard tacker? I don't think I'm smart enough to pull that off..... But it's an interesting idea. But I don't see why the original starboard tacker has to tack any more times than the original port tacker. Run that by me again?

    1. I agree that this sort of tactic is not something I will likely use, but it was interesting to see what world-class sailors think about. It really is a very mental sport.

      As for the situation, the port tacker is on or near the port layline and the starboard tacker is coming close to him (on the left side). So, for the starboard tacker to reach the mark, he has to tack onto port, while the port tacker can fetch the mark without tacking. I said tacking twice because the mark was to be left to port so both would have to make a final tack at the mark.

      By the way, it has been a long time since you have posted. I would be very interested in hearing more about trapeze swings and/or corridors.


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