Categories
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.

CLICK HERE to download FREE book!

Categories
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.

FREE BOOK – Grab your copy NOW!