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Solo news 19 May


    Sorry the news is less frequent at the moment – what with TrySail, Wed evening etc time has been a bit short.

    However there are a few interesting topics… Great to see both Malcolm and Mark back from hibernation and CJ back on the water for the summer. Now if we can just all come out to play on the same weekend we’ll have a really good fleet. I should also have mentioned a great result by Mervyn a couple of weeks ago in the pursuit.


    I’ve been talking about starting coaching – here’s the first chance to register – will be going on the club web site shortly… I recently attended an RYA level 2 race coach course so we’re primed and ready to go.

    Coaching will start Tues 4 June – this will be open to all members but is particularly aimed at the new sailors who have come up through TrySail or RTC and are starting to race.

    This is planned to run every Tuesday – if any of you more experienced sailors who do not already help on TrySail can assist it would be great. Ideally I’d like to have one experienced sailor helping each week.  Your boat preferably or club boat if you don’t have. Aim to have boat on the water (sails up if light, or down if windier). We’ll always start with a briefing, do some exercises come back for a de-brief / brief for next topic. I think we’ll probably have time for two topics per night.

    Starting to race is a big step and this coaching is aimed at covering the gap between ‘can sail’ and ‘can’t race’.  It will broadly follow the RYA starting to race syllabus but for this year at least will be a club initiative. (Once I’ve done it once it might become an official RYA course in future sessions though I think that is probably better done as two full days rather than a series of evenings).

    Please let me know if you will be coming – it will basically be every Tues evening in parallel with Try-Sail starting Jun 4.  We’ll pick a topic or two each week and work on perfecting those skills. While it isn’t essential you do every week inevitably you will gain a lot more if you attend, and if you then practice on Saturday or Sunday to hone the skills.  Hopefully I’ll video some of the sessions and be able to replay them at the end (or maybe the following week) – that’s another time a helper make a big difference! I’m hoping I don’t have to limit the numbers but I hope to mix fleet drills/exercises with individual coaching. If you can help coach also please let me know.


    Advanced start line planning

    So – this week was Anniversary series – and we had a good wind that was suitable for everyone although quite tricky in the shifts.   This leads to a more advanced section on starting particularly starting ion a mixed fleet where we are supposed to be the slower boats.

    First let’s recap on the standard advice:

    Find which end of the line is more upwind – lots of way to do that

    -          Sail up and down the line. The direction you go with the sail needing to be sheeted in more is heading to the upwind end. 

    -          Shoot head to wind in the middle of the line and look across the boat – the end that is more in front of you is the upwind end.


    In a steady wind with no currents or wind bends you want to start at the upwind end no question you are just further up the beat to start with. 


    So – more advanced – when might you not want to do this. The answer is twofold

    –        if there is a very strong reason to go left or right up the beat that might take priority (getting out of tide for example or a big wind bend). You might not be able to go right if you start at the left end unless you can tack and cross the whole fleet or make a port tack flyer (difficult in a big fleet).

    –        if the wind is shifting a lot and you think that shortly after the start the bias will be swapped on the next shift.
    Effectively you want to be starting from what will be the right end after the next shift – start on the lifted tack from the leeward end on that tack and then tack on the expected header and you have got in phase with the shifts suddenly appear in front of everyone.


    So back to Sunday… The wind had shifted a lot so that the first beat was almost a fetch – on port tack you couldn’t quite lay the windward mark but it wasn’t so far off. The start line had been swung round so that although the port end was upwind it wasn’t ridiculously biased. 

    Conventional wisdom said port end was upwind – start there (pin end).   However there is another school of thought – this is where the more advanced part comes in and it can be quite counter-intuitive.  If the wind has swung to port end bias meaning it is harder to sail down the line on starboard (you are almost beating to go down the line).  If the wind is shifting to and fro that means that the NEXT shift will favour starboard tack.  Unless you can consolidate the initial gain by crossing the fleet you will now be on the wrong side of the next shift. I could see all the ‘fast’ boats vying for the pin end – I opted for the opposite end. I started right on the committee boat and immediately tacked. My thought was twofold – starting there I could tack and sail in clear air without the fast boats going past and shadowing me. I was almost laying the windward mark so I was ahead and to leeward of the pin end starters. Two possibilities:

    ·         Wind heads me (shifts back the other way) - I tack onto the new lifted side and I cross the fleet

    ·         Wind continues to shift - I lay the windward mark and I’ve sailed a shorter distance than the pin end starters who will have over-stood

    If the wind stays steady (very unlikely) I at least have clear air and can sail fast without being affected which will let me gain on boats of similar speed though the pin enders will have started ahead.


    In the end the wind headed me slightly and I was indeed able to tack and almost cross the fleet – ended up third at the windward mark ahead of most of the ‘fast’ boats including all the lasers.  Maybe if I had started right on the pin and made the perfect start at the pin I could have come out OK but the chances of that with faster boats near me were small and I probably couldn’t have tacked. By making the strategic choice to get on port tack early (the lifted tack at the start) I traded off getting in phase with the shifts against the short term bias of the start line.  It doesn’t always work but it does show that clear air and going fast makes a really big difference.


    It’s the re-arranged Littleton open on Sunday. I’ve got a few too many things going on to get there this year so I’ll be at the club as usual.


    See you Sunday



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