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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

How To Sail Fast in Waves and Choppy Conditions

To sail fast in waves and chop you need speed which means powered up sails and footing off in the worst bits.

As you hit each wave it slows you down and sailing well in waves requires determination, concentration and the correct technique.

When sailing in chop, acceleration mode is the only mode and speed breeds speed so the faster you go the more power you have to deal with speed sapping waves and to reduce pitching.

Upwind, you will need to sail lower than you normally would to keep the boat fully powered and drive to keep the jib telltales flowing with the outside ones starting to lift but not stalling.

To power up your sails there are three settings to achieve this being

1.Angle of Attack 2. Sail Depth and 3. Twist.

To achieve depth with the mainsail, straighten the mast, ease the outhaul and soften the luff with a combination of letting the Cunningham go and easing the halyard.

For the Jib, allow the forestay to sag and move the jib leads forward to make the jib fuller. Move them until all the inside telltales luff evenly up the whole luff of the sail.

Trimming the sheet on takes the twist out of the leech and adds power and assists with pointing but be careful not to over trim because you will stall flow which in turn will slow you down.

Creating a little leeward heel can help your performance in chop and create weather helm, which will help you keep the boat on the wind even as the chop tries to push the bow down. (not too much though as too much weather helm creates drag) 

On flat-bottomed boats, the heel can also soften the landing when pitching, concentrate weight low to further reduce pitching and reduce windage.

If you see a particularly nasty set of waves coming, foot off for extra power before you hit them. By sailing low and fast you’ll have extra power to sail over the big ones or steer through them.

Just like going upwind, the first step to downwind performance is to build speed. Head up to a hotter angle with the apparent wind on the beam, this gets the boat moving and establishes flow across the sails.

To build speed, you need to keep the apparent wind forward. Once you’ve got the boat moving downwind, let the apparent wind guide you. Sail as low as you can while keeping the apparent wind blowing in from the side of the boat.

The spinnaker trimmer should provide feedback and if the load on the spinnaker sheet lightens, the trimmer needs to pass that information to the helmsman, “No lower, I’m losing pressure, heat it up.”

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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

The Boom Vang & It’s Importance

Depending on the boat you sail, the boom vang will be one of the most important controls to determine the twist of your mainsail. 

As we go from sailing upwind to across the wind and then downwind, the difference in mainsheet tension will determine how much the boom will try to lift as you ease the sheet and this is where vang tension plays its part.

When sailing upwind, different amounts of twist in the mainsail are needed depending on wind strength and sea conditions and as a rule of thumb, in 10-12 knots of wind the main telltale should be breaking 50% of the time and not much or any vang will be needed.

In order to replicate settings for each wind strength and angle of sailing to the wind, it is important to have marks on the vang rope as a reference for the correct amount of tension to control the leech of the mainsail for the current conditions.

When you sail into a lull, the mainsail begins to stall and more twist is needed so the main sheet is eased until the tell tail eventually flies but with the vang on, the mainsail moves to leeward closing the slot. With the vang left slack, the boom is able to rise and the mainsail twists at the top without losing power from the lower sections of the mainsail, and without dropping the boom to leeward and closing the slot.

In light wind and choppy conditions have the vang on hand tight to stop the boom from bouncing but constantly check that your twist is correct by watching your tell tales.

As wind speed increases, the twist is controlled by a combination of sheet and vang tension.

In heavy air where your traveller is completely to leeward and you are still easing mainsheet to keep the boat upright, the mainsail will begin to flap  when the mainsheet is eased. Pull your vang on to tighten the mainsail leech to stop it from flapping while keeping power in the leech. You are in effect driving off the leech of the mainsail.

In these conditions ensure your outhaul and Cunningham are pulled on hard and your backstay (if you have one) is at maximum to flatten the mainsail as much as possible without inverting it.

When reaching, the vang is the main control which effects mainsail twist. As your boom is eased beyond the quarter of the boat, the mainsheet is no longer effective at holding the boom down, so the vang takes over.

On a run, the boom is even further out and the mainsheet is now completely ineffective at controlling mainsail twist, pull your vang on to keep your top batten parallel to the boom and this keeps the mainsail fully projected to the wind.

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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

TO BE SMARTER & FASTER, USE YOUR SMARTPHONE FOR GPS TRACKING

 

 You don’t need any special hardware to do live tracking. Use your smartphone with the TackTracker app for iPhone or Android and instantly create a live race or training session. 

Discover how utilising TackTrackers GPS tracking system gives you the exact steps to work out how and where to improve your boat speed and tactics without breaking the bank.

Replay your day’s training or a race or series when sailing against other TackTracker equipped boats and work out where you gained or lost leg by leg or what you could have done to get a better outcome.

The TackTracker analytics will show you where you were strong and where you need to improve. Did you choose the wrong side of the course, sit in bad air too long or simply miss a big shift?

In a race situation, you can pick the boats you want to compare or you can view the whole fleet, graphics show each boat’s speed and VMG.

The analytics show you where you won and lost and what you learn from this will ensure that you will not fall into the same trap again.

To learn more visit             TackTracker – Live Tracking

If you can’t find what you want on our comprehensive website, have a question or simply want to discuss tracking for coaching, training or racing, email:

AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND: Brett Bowden brett@sailingtowin.com 

EUROPE: Simon Lovesey info@sailracer.co.uk

THE REST of THE WORLD: Greg Seers sales@tacktracker.com

 

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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

SECRETS AND TIPS ON HANDLING GUSTS AND LULLS

Article collated from excerpts of an article authored by Colin Gowland – International Sailing Academy https://internationalsailingacademy.com/

 

Many sailors have poor gust response and in gusts, there is a tendency to “fight” the boat with hiking and often too much steering to control power.

In keelboats, we often see the boat heeling too much, the helmsman pinching and employing corrective steers which leads to unnecessary strain on the boat and crew causing reduced speed and lower VMG.

Much is often said about changing gears in up and down pressure with regards to sailing shape, and while that’s very important, there’s a lot more to learn.  

By handling gusts and lulls efficiently, you’ll be working with the boat, not against it and will get big performance improvements as well. 

Correct gust response involves – ” Ease, Hike then Trim”

Incorrect Gust response – “Pinch, Hike, Corrective Steer, Stall”

If we find that the gust is from the same direction as the original wind and it is merely an increase in wind speed, the moment it hits, your apparent wind swings aft. 

As that happens our objectives are:

1. We need to keep attachment and good flow on the sail, more flow creates lift.

2. We do not want the boat to increase heel as this creates sideways force and drag.

3. We want to apply the maximum amount of body leverage into the boat.

By accommodating our new apparent wind which has moved aft, with sheeting out, we can increase flow on the sail and maintain a constant angle of heel.

Hike as much as is needed to do this – maximizing hiking leverage and if possible sheet out simultaneously to keep the boat heel angle the same. Complete these steps and your boat speed will instantly increase.

Once this new speed is achieved, your apparent wind will move forward again so you’re able to sheet back in to accommodate that. Have you changed the angle? No, because the wind has not changed direction.  

In marginal hiking conditions, sometimes just adding weight in enough to instantly increase the boat speed and in this situation less or even no sheet release is necessary, because your apparent wind swings forward so quickly as you add weight, that flow is not lost and the heel of the boat is not affected by the gust.

Correct Lull Response – “Coast and maintain your height”

Incorrect Lull Response – “Chasing”

In lulls, even advanced sailors tend to chase apparent wind around obliterating VMG and slowing them down unnecessarily.

When you sail into a lull, your apparent wind moves forward which is the opposite of a gust. When this happens you should unweight, coast to keep your height and decrease speed. 

As in a gust, we don’t want the boat to “feel” the lull and the angle of heel should not be affected. To keep a constant angle of heel means that you’ll need to move your weight inboard or just bring your shoulders up depending on the amount of wind decrease.

You can experiment with trimming in tighter to various degrees to reduce drag with the apparent wind forward or alternatively you can ease a bit to keep some power and minimize stall risk.

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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

Two Boat Testing – a Great Way to Improve

We all love to race but racing is sometimes a slow way to learn how to make your boat faster.

Two boat training is one of the best ways to get rapid on water improvement but importantly, the training must be structured to get the quickest results. 

I have set out below, some elements that will guarantee a successful on-water experience.

  1. Decide what you want to achieve. if you want to improve your helming technique, sail against a faster sailor and try different techniques until you find what works. Two boat testing can also be used to identify fast settings for sail trim, rig settings and evaluating different sails.
  2. Map out what you are going to do, what you want to achieve and how long you are going to spend on each task. This should be done ashore and should involve all crew members getting input from them to ensure they are invested in the outcome.
  3. Make sure both boats are set up the same. This includes rig settings, crew weight, brand and/or cut of the sails. Where this is not exactly possible, be prepared to analyse the results of the test accordingly making allowances for the differences. It is the changes as the test progresses that is important.
  4. Comparative positioning of the boats. Make sure you’re sailing in the same wind, the boats have to be close to each other and not disturbing each other’s air. Windward-Leeward separation should be no more than 2 to 3 boat lengths and with the leeward boat advanced about half a boat length.
  5. Stable wind and waves. Ideally, do not attempt the two boat testing when there are large variations in wind speed (puffs) and direction as it is really hard to evaluate relative performance.
  6. Make one boat the Control boat. On boat will make one change and the control boat won’t make changes. If you find a change that makes the test boat faster, then both boats should make that change before going on to test another change.
  7. Discuss and Analyse the results. In a perfect world, you would have a coach videoing and recording the results and then have a three-way chat about what was achieved in each test. Failing that as an example, after an upwind test, talk with the team on the other boat whilst heading back downwind about what was achieved. Importantly, to get the most out of the test, honesty is paramount.
  8. Record what worked and what didn’t. When you hit the beach have a debrief with your testing partner, make notes for future reference and mark fast settings on sheets and rig so you can replicate them next time you race.

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Competitive Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

When, Why & How to Take a Sailing Penalty

Having a good knowledge of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) will help you avoid infringements but unexpected incidents on the racecourse can happen and will jeopardise your results thus you will need to take decisive action.

When to take a penalty – When another boat protests, you have to make an instant decision whether to take a penalty or not. If you are unsure, taking a penalty is the easiest solution – hoping for the best and doing nothing is a risky strategy and likely to see you in the protest room and perhaps blown from the race.

How long do you have to take the penalty – If the Sailing Instructions say nothing about penalties, the default is RRS 44, and 44.2 states that penalty turns should be taken ‘as soon after the incident as possible’.  Be sure to get well clear to avoid impeding other boats, especially at busy mark roundings.

Types of Penalties – Make sure you have read the sailing instructions. Is it one turn, two turns, or a scoring penalty? Unless otherwise specified in the Sailing Instructions, the penalty for touching a mark (RRS 31) is a one-turn penalty. When boats meet and other infraction penalties are also spelt out in the SI’s so read them diligently before heading out, you will not have the time or perhaps the ability to do so in the race.

How to take the penalty – During training, practice penalties to ensure that in the unfortunate case that you infringe, that you will lose as little distance as possible.  Although a penalty must be done immediately, that does not mean it needs to be taken in a blind panic. Think through whether it is better to tack first or gybe first – in most instances the tack first is the better option, but there are situations where gybing first will put you in a better position on the fleet.

Preparation – Use the time while sailing clear to prepare the boat for the manoeuvre, ensuring the crew are aware of your intentions, the sheets are clear to run and you are ready to ease the vang if the breeze is up. If you are on a downwind leg, you should also consider how you want to exit the penalty and ensure the spinnaker and pole are set up ready. On a symmetrical boat, you may be able to leave the pole on by executing a leeward drop, then you are ready to hoist immediately after the penalty. The alternative is that it may be better to do a windward drop so you can hoist out of the last tack without the pole and do the last gybe with the spinnaker drawing.

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