Watching the Olympic sailing, with the silky smooth boat handling and tactics it got me thinking about the the basic things that the rest of us at all levels below the Olympians must have instinctively dialled in.
In a multi race series consistency is probably the big one but there are a number of other basic things that we should all practice and have committed to muscle memory.
- Every time you bear off, all sheets should be eased out simultaneously.
- When tacking, start the turn slowly and never allow your jib or genoa to back.
- All controls should have a wide range of adjustment and be marked so you can replicate fast settings.
- When reaching, move the jib lead forward and outboard to maximise power in the sail.
- When approaching the weather mark, leave a little in the bank, maybe by half a boat length, this will allow for last minute wind shifts, current, a bad set of waves or other boats.
- When hit by a gust, ease sheets first before turning the rudder and always anticipate gusts by constantly looking up the course.
- On a multicrewed boat, appoint one person as tactician and their eyes should always be outside the boat communicating the location of extra pressure, other boats, location of marks and tactical challenges as they develop.
- When approaching another boat, keep your speed up because if you have to manouvre, it is always easier with speed.
- Keep an eye on your masthead wind indicator as the wind often changes higher up first.
- The masthead wind indicator shows apparent wind and the tail points the place where the next gybe will take you.
- When steering with a wheel, never sit to leeward and stand up so you have a greater height of eye and will get a better indication of heel angle.
- Off the wind, if the boat is rolling wildly, head up a few degrees to stabilise the vessel.
- In an offshore race, if you have a radio on board, keep an ear on the weather forecast so you can plan ahead accordingly.
- Measure the rake of your mast and compare measurements with fellow competitors in order to see what is fast and what is not.
- At the end of each days racing, have a team de-brief to work out what went right or wrong so you can learn and improve.
- Every member of the crew should have assigned jobs and in the case of new team members, a more experienced crew should partner with them to pass on knowledge and back them up.
- Always use gloves, this is especially important if you are the Main or Spinnaker trimmer.
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