REGATTA CHECKLIST

For those of us travelling interstate or overseas for National or World championships I have set out below a checklist to help you get packed for the regatta.

Good luck, go out there and sail fast and smart but above all have fun and learn heaps.

Essential stuff

□             Notice of race

□             Sailing instructions

□             Rulebook and class rules

□             Appeals book

□             Charts of racing area

□             Money/cheque book/credit cards

□             Rating/measurement certificate

□             Class membership card

□             AUS Sailing membership card

□             Your personal racing notebook 

Car and trailer

□             Trailer registration

□             Car registration and insurance

□             Spare tire for trailer

□             Trailer license plate

□             Wheel Nut spanner that fits trailer

□             Extra wheel bearings for trailer

□             First aid kit/safety items

□             Extra key taped under car

□             Road maps/directions

□             Plane tickets

Personal items

□             Water bottles to bring on boat

□             Cooler and frozen ice packs

□             Hiking pants

□             trapeze harness

□             Hiking boots

□             Sunglasses

□             Sunblock lotion

□             Hats/visors

□             Sailing gloves

□             Life jacket

□             Wet weather gear

□             Stopwatch and spare watch        

Boat preparation gear

□             Ditty bag

□             Tool box and extras

□             Spare rigging and blocks

□             Lifting bridle

□             Boat cover(s)/sail bags

□             Masthead fly

□             Extra corrector weights

□             Wet/dry sandpaper

□             2 protest flags/I flag

□             Class identification flag 

Sailing things

□             Mainsail and spare(s)

□             Jib or genoa and spare(s)

□             Spinnaker and spare(s)

□             Sheets, spinnaker pole, etc.

□             Rudder, tiller, daggerboard

□             Battens (heavy and light air)

□             Bucket, bailer, sponge

□             Required safety equipment

□             Tow Rope

□             Compass

Miscellaneous stuff

□             Roll of paper towels

□             Plastic cups, plates, utensils

□             Wet/dry hand wipes

□             Garbage bags/sandwich bags

□             Snacks (e.g. granola bars)

□             CDs/tapes for trip

□             Bug spray/lotion

I am sure there may be other items that are specific to you and your boat but the list above is a great start.

HOW TO GET PUBLICITY FOR YOUR NEXT SAILING REGATTA

Sailing has always been tricky to get across to the spectator but now TackTracker can show every spectator what all the sailors know …. and more!
 
The spectator can be at the hosting clubhouse’s bar or restaurant, at home, the office, down the road in a cafe or even on another continent.
 
Coaches, sports lovers, friends, family and sailors researching their competition or sussing out the local conditions for the regatta they’ll be sailing in soon all love it.
 
TackTracker’s ability to bring the sport to the spectator means spectators now exceed many thousands for any significant event
 
TackTracker’s analytical features also add to the spectator experience.  Spectators now understand what happened to their boat of interest out on the course  but also all the other boats in the race.  They now know the what’s, why’s and how’s!

Races can be embedded almost anywhere – on yacht club’s sites, sponsor’s sites, yacht class’ sites, local council sites, etc. 

The lucky sponsors can have their logo on the races and a direct link to their site or a chosen landing page so that every time a replay is watched the sponsors logo and contact details are displayed again.  

Considering the number of spectators TackTracker attracts, the number of races and the number of times races are replayed by spectators and competitors, this amounts to great exposure and a direct path to a sponsor.  As a bonus this publicity is for eternity.

Ask your next sponsor if they will enable TackTracker-ing at your next regatta and make it a win-win.
 
Australian and New Zealand Distributor
Sailing To Win

Brett Bowden
Telephone Australia: 0417 005755
Telephone International: +61 417 005755

brett@sailingtowin.com
www.sailingtowin.com

 
International Inquiries
TackTracker

Greg Seers
Telephone Australia: 0402 302403
Telephone International:+61 402 302403

sales@tacktracker.com

 

 European Distributor

SailRacer Simon Lovesey
info@sailracer.co.uk
www.sailracer.org

Racing in Big Fleets

With national championships and annual long distance races fast approaching we need to turn our mind to sailing in bigger fleets than we have been racing in all year.

Racing in big fleets requires a number of different disciplines to think about and master. In general you can take more risks in a small fleet and if you make a mistake you are not likely to lose many boats.

There tends to be more highly skilled sailors in bigger fleets, a faster pace and less opportunities to carry out your strategic plan so you need to adjust your strategies and tactics accordingly.

Some important considerations in big fleets are –

  • Be conservative, in a big fleet there are many other boats which influence your sailing so that you are often forced to take tactical decisions over strategic decisions. A conservative approach means not going for the best position or the best strategy but always being close to it, accept small mistakes or small disadvantages to avoid major mistakes. In the regatta, you may not  win every race  but by being conservative you will be able to avoid really bad results and be close to the top in most races. At the end of a series the winner often hasn’t won a single race but was always placed well.
  • Clear Air, this is a no-brainer to any competitive sailor but even more critical in a big fleet. In small fleets it’s much easier to get clear air, which means that more boats will have it but in big fleets, there will be heaps of boats getting slowed down by sailing in dirty air. Don’t be one of them.
  • The Start, there is more chance of a disaster in a big fleet and it is wise to avoid the ends as they are generally more crowded. Try to have space below and above you so that other boats cannot force you to tack away from the side of the course you have chosen. Tacking early can also cause you to lose ground which means losing many boats in a big fleet.
  • Boat Speed, set your boat up for the conditions and line up with a known performer before the start to make sure you have the settings right. You will not be able to win a big fleet regatta if your speed is not at least equal to the one of the top boats plus of course it is also easier to recover after a mistake. A word of warning though, boat speed doesn’t help you if you stuff up your start or sail in dirty air for a long time

The best preparation for sailing in a big fleet is to race in big fleets but this is not always possible so there are ways of training to prepare yourself.

When you are out practicing with other boats, simulate the big fleet by staying close together and also learn how to sail in dirty air. With a small practice fleet using a really short line is a good way to practice a big fleet start giving you plenty of boats in close proximity.

Train at holding lanes of clear air and practice how to stay in the windward position of a boat that is going high.

Learn how to go for speed to pace it with fast boats around you and get in the habit of putting the bow down a couple of degrees to get the water flowing over the foils thus generating lift.

Learn how to adapt to each situation and the sailing styles of boats and helmsmen around you, doing this helps you to hold your lane for a long time but also teaches you what you need to do when you drop in a leeward boat or get gassed by a boat that has come out from under your lee bow.

These are all situations that you will encounter regularly in big fleets so instinctively knowing what to do will ensure that you make to right split second decision every time.

 

 

How To Prepare for Unstable Conditions

Regattas generally bring with them diverse wind conditions, so crews need to be prepared to handle whatever the venue hands out. 

Researching the most up-to-date forecasts, in combination with understanding the venue is absolutely critical in preparing for success on race day. Although it is great to speak to the locals about what to expect and by all means take this into account, but do your own research as well.

How many regattas have you been at only to hear the locals say, “its not normally ever like this”. What’s worth remembering is that they mostly only sail on weekends so their experience generally does not cover a week long regatta.

In fact if they had done the research they may have found that what you got is exactly what always happens. Having said that local knowledge can be a key weapon when dealing with current and knowing where and when to hide on the course.

Shifting from a heavy building breeze one day then down to light air the next can take a toll on even the best crews and staying connected is essential.

Understand the limits of technology, and as much as it helps, it can also hinder boat awareness so its important for the helmsman and crew to be aware with what is actually going on.

As an example, remember the basics and be aware of what the tell tales are communicating and how the boat feels as conditions shift.

Communicating weight management and sail trim relative to tactics and strategy in varying conditions will help keep the team focused on the impact their individual roles have in the outcome of the race.

Keep fun in the program. and make sure everyone is enjoying the day. 

Dialing the rig and managing the tune as conditions build or diminish will have a direct result on how the boat responds in varying conditions. An important consideration may be the differences between symmetrical and asymmetrical car set-ups to take advantage of favored tacks in chop.

Whether races are in big breeze or light air, it’s important to know and communicate when it’s time to change gears along with changing conditions. Develop a strategy and be aware of what is happening both on the course and in the boat, then adjust as needed. 

Recognising, Evaluating and Calling Puffs

Looking at the water on light air days with little cloud cover, it’s easier to see a puff approaching because the extra wind causes the surface of the water to ripple and change to a darker colour plus it will be moving away from the source which will tell you whether it’s an approaching lift or knock.

It’s always a little more difficult as the wind increases in strength or it’s overcast but by continually observing the water whenever you are out sailing, you will get better at recognising puffs and their direction.

Upwind

When you see a puff approaching even if it’s not your job to call puffs, it’s always good practice to run through the motions in your head, it’ll help you stay sharp the next time puff calling is your job.

When you see a line of breeze rolling down the course, there are four important pieces of information about the approaching wind that will make a difference to your helmsman and trimmers.

  1. Is it a lifting or heading puff? If it approaches from 45 degrees or forward of your course, it’s a heading puff, from 45 to 60 degrees, it’s a median puff, and from aft of 60 degrees, it’s a lifting puff.
  2. How much more wind is it? This helps the helmsman and trimmer know how much to adjust their trim and angle for the new wind.
  3. How long will it last? This tells the helmsman and trimmer how long they’ll sail with the new trim.
  4. When will it hit? A countdown helps the helmsman and trimmer time the adjustments  they are making.

Downwind

Calling puffs downwind is just as, if not more important than spotting incoming breeze upwind as you have more flexibility to sail higher or lower to meet the approaching puff.

When calling puffs downwind, ask yourself the same questions as you would sailing upwind: (Lift or header? How much wind? How long will it last? When will it hit?).

Make sure to converse with your trimmer and/or driver beforehand to determine the language that will be most helpful for them.

You have to remember that while you are looking up course, your fellow crew trimming the sails will likely be looking down course, or up at the sails.

Saying “puff coming on the right” might be confusing – your right, my right, course right, downwind right?

A good general rule is to call the puffs where they fall over the shoulder of your forward-facing crew members. 

As an example, say”puff over your right shoulder,” this makes it easy for trimmers or helmsmen to look back over their shoulder to see the incoming breeze and react accordingly.

Crew Assignments

On a single handed boat you steer, trim sails, watch the instruments, read the compass, track the fleet, call the tactics and attend to a myriad of other responsibilities to get you around the course as fast as possible.

When there are two or more crew on a boat it is important that each sailors roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and understood. 

On championship two-person boats, the driver steers and the crew does tactics. On a three-person crew, the forward crew and helmsman focus on trim, while the middle crew handles tactics and so the responsibilities get divided up as the team size grows.

Crew assignments should be based on the number, skill, experience, and interest of your crew. Each crew position should have clearly defined responsibilities during each maneuver, and maneuvers should be executed the same way each time.

In a perfect world you would have the same people in the same position for every race but unfortunately that is not always possible.  In larger crewed boats you should work toward a nucleus you can count on and then pair new or less experienced crew with a regular crew member.

The key to developing good crew work is practice, its simply impossible to train crew during a race and you must practice to win, there is no other way. Go through maneuvers one at a time: tacks, gybes, sets, douses, reefs, sail changes, plus straight line trim and speed and then debrief after each training session to answer any queries that crew mates may have. 

In a large fully crewed boat another effective practice tool is rotating crew positions. When you switch places, each will understand better what is going on and can anticipate the other’s needs during a race. Similarly, trimmers and drivers who trade places will better understand how they impact each other.

Don’t discount changing places occasionally in a one design, two or three person racing boat either, there is nothing like sailing in a different role on the boat occasionally to understand what is required or how easy or difficult the task of the other athlete is.

Find a tuning partner once you are happy that your crew roles and responsibilities are established. Sail parallel courses to work on boat speed, use cat-and-mouse drills to improve boat handling then engage in short match races to add competitive fervor. 

The difficulty of boat handling increases with increases in the wind speed, so keep practicing until you are confident in all conditions.

Try to refine your techniques to reduce crew movement but pay attention to weight placement, either fore and aft to reduce drag or across the boat which affects heel. In many designs, heel affects waterline length and thus boat speed. 

In most one design dinghies excessive heel creates drag and the boats must be sailed flat for optimum performance.

 

Read Situations at the Leeward Mark

All the good work of the upwind leg can be undone at the leeward mark.

Leeward mark rounding in a competitive one-design fleet can be a daunting experience and when a mix of boats are arriving at different speeds and angles it can be even tougher to work out who’s going to get there and when.

Learning to read situations as they develop comes through practice and with some clear thinking you can  make big gains at the bottom end of the course.

  • Begin the leg with the end in mind –                                                                                                                                                                          What are the priorities for the next leg? Get in phase with the oscillating shifts? Hold a lane to the advantaged side? Get onto the ‘long tack’ as soon as possible? The answers to these questions should shape your positioning against other boats on the leeward mark approach.

    For an early tack, avoid being overlapped outside another boat at the mark: drop early, weave around if necessary to break the overlap and exit tight on the mark so following boats cannot pin you out.

    If you are making a charge for the left hand side (in a port hand rounding), a tight rounding is only necessary if there are boats close ahead: a smooth arc gives better VMG.
  • Understand Rule 18 –                                                                                                                                                                                              Sailing Rule 18 is by far the longest and wordiest of all Part 2 rules. Its main purpose is to state when one of a pair of boats must give mark-room to the other. The boats must both be required to leave the mark that they are near on the same side, and one of them must be in the three-length zone around the mark.

             An inside right of way boat can generally push for the classic ‘wide in, tight out’ rounding: a keep clear boat cannot if the  right of way boat is close outside. If there is doubt about whether there was an overlap at the zone, the protest                    committee will go back to the last point of certainty.

  • Choose the right Gate Mark

    If one mark appears favoured, ask yourself why. If it is due to an oscillation, the only way to bank any apparent gain would be to tack immediately; this may not be possible. The boats rounding the ‘unfavoured’ mark will get straight in phase, and cross you on the next shift.

    Depending on leg length, if you are three-quarters of the way down the run and you can’t tell which one is favoured, there is almost certainly something more important to think about. Go back to point 1 and chose the mark that is going to get you on the tack you want.

  • Think Ahead

    Hoist the jib part-way in plenty of time to avoid last-minute fumbles, check the conditions early and get everything onto its mark well before the rounding – nothing is more frustrating than a saggy jib luff or in-haulers that need adjusting at the most important part of the beat when weight on the rail is at its most critical.

  • Use the Angle

    A gybe drop inside the zone guarantees an overlap on any boats approaching on the other gybe. Aim to hit the zone directly to windward of the mark and be prepared to slow down by sailing extra deep to give a little extra time.

    Avoid overshooting the layline at the last gybe in. If a gust then forces you down to or below the layline on the final approach, the gybe drop will be almost un-achievable for the crew.

 

When to Pinch and When to Foot

The  concept of going fast-forward in a lift, or pinching in a header, has been around forever.

When to Sail Low and Fast

Going fast-forward or making a bearing gain is a great weapon to have in your tactical arsenal, bearing gain is when make trees on your competition. 

To gain bearing you need two things:

  1. A boat that is capable of going faster when you put the bow down and a high-performance dinghy can make a better bearing gain than a heavy displacement boat.
  2. You need an understanding of what you’re trying to achieve by sailing high and slow or low and fast.

In a planing boat, such as a 505 or 470 there’s a fine line between going fast and sailing out of your lane and you need to set up your sail trim to be able to do both, the extra load put on your foils by going fast should help you hold your lane.

To reproduce the settings for a variety of modes and wind conditions, mark your sheets, backstays, and any other adjustments. If you spend a lot of time trying to get the sails set up properly, chances are you’ll miss a brief window of opportunity to go fast.

There are many different situations, but generally you are looking to go fast-forward when you know you are lifted and leveraged near a corner.

As an example, if you are sailing a long beat and have tacked on a lift to go toward the top mark, anywhere within 2 minutes of layline, you should work on gaining bearing with the fleet to leeward while also maintaining gauge on the boats to leeward.

Another time where you’d look to gain bearing is in a breeze where the shifts are oscillating within a 5 to10 minute period. Sailing fast across an oscillating shift allows you to maximize your leverage and use the maximum amount of the shift before the breeze oscillates in the other direction.

When it comes to which mode to sail in, the decision will be based around true-wind direction, heading and feel.

It’s important to be aware of what you’re doing when you’re going for

   

bearing gain because you don’t want to spear off into a corner potentially sailing extra distance for a shift that never materializes.

When to Sail High and Slow

There will be times when you need to know how to sail the boat two-tenths under target for a period of time.

Instances where this may be necessary include getting off the starting line, getting away from a leeward mark, when a boat is on your leebow, heading into a persistent shift or when you’re on a layline in the dirty air of a competitor.

If you are stuck in traffic, but wanting to go the the side of the course that the traffic is heading, you would intentionally sail a higher slower mode to play out the long-term tactical plan. More often than not, the high/slow mode is a traffic mode and you need to adjust you sail setup accordingly with traveller up and more sheet or vang tension.

Knowing your set up allows you to quickly and efficiently go from a normal, to fast, to high mode trim.

If you’re blindly sailing high and slow and gaining bearing, there needs to be the conversation of what is the tactical goal for the next three minutes and this needs to be constatly re-evaluated based on what is happening with the fleet.

THE IMPORTANCE HYDRATION IN COMPETITIVE SAILING

As temperatures climb again, it is important to remember how important a regular intake of fluids is to be able to maintain performance capability.

The consequences of a lack of fluids –

Effects on mental performance

  • Mental tiredness increases, attentiveness and concentration decrease.
  • Co-ordination ability decreases; special manoeuvres don’t work anymore as they should
  • Decisiveness is impaired and this has negative effects on our tactical decisions.
  • Distances and angles are harder to judge and the chances of an incorrect decision increase. 

Effects on physical performance

  • The cardio-vascular and central nervous systems are affected, causing an increased pulse rate, lower blood pressure and loss of muscle strength.
  • Physical tiredness leads to lower performances in all areas; all movements become subjectively more strenuous. 
  • Even a reduction of the body mass, caused by lack of fluids, can reduce muscle strength by up to 6%.

The consequences of loss of water –

An 80kg sailor only has to lose 1.2 kg in order to feel negative effects on mental and physical performance.

Even with light physical effort under moderate conditions, say 18-22 degrees, the rate of perspiration equals 400ml per hour.

If we assume the sailor is on the water for 2 hours including the journey to the race and waiting time, even before the first race of the day starts, the critical limit of 1.2kg will be reached by the end of the first race.

Normal sailing clothing and sailing in warm areas will heighten these effects. 

If you are thirsty its already too late

Recent research results confirm that light dehydration can affect your mood,your energy level and the ability to think.

According to the opinion of hydration experts, our sensation of thirst does not occur before the body mass has reduced by 1-2%, and dehydration has already begun. 

At this stage, our mental and physical performance are generally already lowered.  

Take Your Sailing to the Next Level

If you want to improve your results and strive to get to the next level you need to dedicate many hours to the sport, even if you can’t sail every day, making a commitment to sailing as often as possible and in as many conditions as possible is the key.

Play to yourStrengths and improve on your weaknesses.

It is important to know yourself, are you introverted or extroverted? Understanding your personality type will help you determine which people you will have a good rapport with and this is necessary to create effective communication on the boat.

It’s helpful to know that people recharge differently, so allow those who need an hour to themselves post-race to have it.

Find out What you Love outside Sailing

Finding common interests will connect you to other like-minded sailors in the sport and provide you with a healthy outlet from the constant grind of racing.

Maybe its playing another sport like golf, fitness training at the gym or even a game or two at the snooker table.  Giving back to the sport by assisting with junior training and coaching or even getting involved with a club working bee helps you to connect with other members of the sailing fraternity.

Observe how Pro Sailors Behave:

The more you observe how the pros conduct themselves and operate, the more you will understand how to be part of the smaller team within the larger team if you are sailing on a multi crewed boat.

Slowly gain trust by asking questions and being accountable, the key here is to ask, never tell!

Your observations of teamwork on the boat and how systems can be improved could save the day but as per the previous sentence, the way the information is passed on is just as important as the information itself.

Be careful not to become negative:

It can be hard, but don’t let your emotions get in the way,  know how to react in tense moments or when things go wrong, add some humour into the program – it will go a long way.

It isn’t worth holding a grudge or badmouthing anyone in the sport, the more you overcome a bad race or regatta with good humour the more people will want to make you part of their team or circle.

Develop a wide range of skills:

Try to work in as many positions on the boat as you are able including mainteneance, navigation and even a stint on the bow. By doing this you never stop learning but above all you become a much more valuable member of the team.

Pull your weight physically:

Good nutrition, hydration and regular stretching are a great investment not to mention exercise.

Speak to a trainer who understands our sport, explain what you do on the boat and get them to design a sailing specific set of exercises with durations that will match up with the bursts or sustained energy that you need in a typical event.

Concentrate on balance and strength.

Whilst on the subject of health, don’t neglect your skin and live by Slip Slop Slap. We are seeing more and more sailors with skin cancers and its worth noting also that sun and saltwater age sailors quickly so attention to covering up will pay dividends in later life.

Develop a Support Network:

It is great to have both Male and Female fellow sailors who you can vent with and discuss aspects of your sailing.

It’s helpful to speak with someone who has experienced what you have and when you are in a race whether it be a short round the cans event or longer passage event remembering back to those conversations will help you push through.

Having someone on the boat who can back you up by stating that you know what you are doing can be really helpful in building trust amongst teammates.

Make Notes:

When you return to a specific sailing venue you will realise how important it is to keep a sailing record. Find a system that works for you and keep specific notes for boats sailed and venues raced.

Keep track of specific boat setups for conditions that day and any discoveries you or the team made.

The next time you return to that venue or boat, you will have an easy refresh before practice and can quickly appraise any new teammates of what to expect.

Karma:
Buy a beer for someone or go out of your way to help someone, especially at clubs, sail lofts and boatyards. Simple acts of kindness open the door to making friends in the sport and industry.

Sometimes the favor is returned in a cross on the race course or with sail setup, advice on maintenence issues down to borrowing tools, spare sheets or fittings.

Sometimes it’s returned as an invitation to sail a Wednesday night social race or can lead to racing a bigger regatta or event at some time in the future.

Make  your commitment to the sport known and don’t be afraid to follow up.

If you have a positive work ethic when the going gets tough and the willingness to own up to your mistakes, you will get called.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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