Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Look both ways

You do what you can in a race and take what you can - lessons learned, including both the things you did right and those that you will do right next time. So it was this weekend.

There was a particularly large tidal current and, as usual, those who read it best reaped huge rewards.  One fellow who is usually in mid fleet with me almost won the race and it was due to his going right when most went left.  The tidal flow was against the wind, so on the beat the common sense logic dictated going left to stay in the main channel with the best current. And most of us did. But those who went a bit right - not all the way to the really shallow water but enough right to be out of the deepest part of the channel - apparently found some better wind which more than compensated for whatever difference there was in the favoring current. It was not always easy way to really see the better pressure - there was a fair amount of confusion in the waves on the water, with various patches almost flat due to some sort of tidal stuff going on underneath surrounded by choppy water - difficult to read the wind itself.

After one particularly sloppy mark rounding (tacking too early, having to go almost into irons to miss the mark by about an inch, fumbling and almost dropping the tiller, etc) I was able to redeem myself a bit with a good downwind leg. The waves were too choppy to do much surfing, although at one place where the tide was creating some larger waves I caught a couple of them for a brief ride.

So, I made a point of concentrating on looking behind a lot to look for puffs and it paid off. The other boats around me stayed pretty much straight downwind toward the mark but I went for the little puffs and tried to sail by the lee as much as possible - I gained three places.

I didn't finish covered in glory, but did feel satisfied in having done something right.


  1. Well done!

    I have similar trouble with decision making when going upwind in current. Sometimes it's hard to work out where the current is strongest or weakest, and even if I get that right there is always that trade-off between stronger wind and more favorable current. But that's why racing is so fascinating, isn't it?

  2. When I was a kid, racing was all about going upwind and at the windward mark the adults would open beers and the racing would resume at the bottom mark. Then I heard of a young fellow who won the OK Dinghy Worlds by having great downwind speed, and sailing has never really been the same. Good work on going faster downwind!

    1. Thanks - downwind is important. However, I am also tempted to try the beer technique - how would you recommend holding the beer? in the tiller hand or sheet hand?


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