I have had very few real sailing lessons and no doubt learned much more slowly and with many more bad habits than I would otherwise.
Yesterday, I had a lesson with Owen Bowerman, a young visitor from the UK who is on the Team GBR Podium Potential squad.
I was hoping to get some coaching on upwind wave techniques, which I struggle with, but the wind was too light, so we did roll tacks instead.
And I discovered that I had completely misunderstood what they are all about. I had thought the only reason for the roll is to set up the action of bringing the boat down flat and getting some movement. But I realized that the roll is just as much about bringing the boat around through the tack.
Owen identified several things I was doing wrong. First, I was sitting too far back and in the light winds I should start the tack sitting up next to the mainsheet. Second, I was rushing the tack too much, using too much tiller too quickly, instead of a smooth curve with more leeward weight shift.
Third, my roll was not timed well with the boat’s turn. So, after shifting my weight to leeward onto the balls of my feet and initiating the tack and sheeting in a bit, I learned to sit down quickly as the boat went head to wind, rolling the boat. This made all the difference.
Still lots of work to do, but I feel I understand what it is about now.