Get the Crew Out and Practice

The man with the parrot on his head would like to point out it is a sparrow.

The man with the parrot on his head would like to point out it is a sparrow.

From Dan Newland

We are doing a practice rather than a race since races seldom allow you the luxury of talking through maneuvers and letting everyone become familiar with new positions and new maneuvers.  As I said in the past, a common problem with a practice is the lack of focus and having clear goals for what it is about.  Going out and hoisting a few beers/spinnakers has limited benefit since it is generally what everyone has done before but stating the goals of the practice and who is doing what is a lot more professional.  No baseball or football team practices by scrimmaging only and they don’t just show up on game day and play ball.  Each practice day goes through fundamental training WITHOUT the pressure of competition.

The key is to have the crew autonomous and able to work things out themselves.  The coach isn’t in each huddle nor should the skipper be talking everyone through every maneuver.  With this in mind, I would strongly suggest that everyone go out and do some practices that are well structured with clear goals in mind so that everyone knows what they are practicing to achieve and can work better as a team when it counts.

an example of Dan’s practice plan follows the break.

Hi guys

I thought we could use with a practice rather than a rather meaningless
race (since there isn’t any handicap, we don’t get anything out of it).
So how about doing a practice?  I think this would be of more benefit.

Here is what I would like to do:

Luke:  I’d like to get you familiar with the cockpit and spinnaker
hoists.  I would like to have Linda and or Kim coach you in loading up
winches before we get to the mark and proper use of the stoppers on the
turning blocks.  Also, you need to get familiar with setting up the boat
with twings and genoa adjustments.  If possible, maybe have you do some
sewer with Kim coaching.

Ari:  I’d like to get you doing some gybes on the foredeck and jib
changes.  Maybe we should do a tack change or two.  Have either Mike,
Colum or Simon coach you on that and perhaps have you jump halyards to
pet the timing down with the person in the sewer.

Linda:  I’d like you to work on the instruments learning to plug in
numbers for marks, changing the displays on the B&G’s and GPS (Although
you may know more about the GPS than others so you can coach).  Mike B
is pretty good on the electronics so I would like him to coach.  I also
want you and Kim to work on lifts and headers using both the B&G true
wind display and compass.

Kim:  I would like to have you do more spinnaker work.  I would like to
get you going on trimming and adjusting the pole forward/aft and height.

Here is what I would like to practice:

1.    Gybe-sets at the mark.  We will approach the mark on starboard
with the butt end set at the mast.  Spinnaker sheets and guys will be
set in the cockpit first.  As we go around, the genoa is gybed and
IMMEDIATELY the pole is topped.  Kim (coaching Luke?) must coordinate
with Ari.  Ari: you probably should lift the pole so the sewer person
snubs the topping lift.  We will do this a couple of times BEFORE
hoisting the kite to get the timing down.

2.    Practice some spinnaker gybes.  I would like to have Ari get
familiar with the spinnaker dance on the foredeck.

3.    Floater drops with Ari running the foredeck.

4.    Practice the “Mexican” spinnaker douse.  This spinnaker drop is
used for an approach on the layline with the spinnaker up and is half
gybe, half douse.  The setup before the drop is exactly the same as a
gybe BUT the spinnaker pole is taken down instead of crossing to the
port side and then the spinnaker is dropped to weather.  If rounding the
mark to port with the spinnaker pole on starboard, the jib goes up
first.  The beauty of this maneuver is that it carries the spinnaker all
the way to the mark and sets the spinnaker up for the next hoist with a
starboard pole.
a.    The jib is hoisted a few boatlengths from the mark.  It is
not sheeted in completely to help the kite fly well, (Remember that, a
genoa can choke a spinnaker making it hard to fly so it is far better to
have the jib too loose with the spinnaker up than too tight.)
b.    As we get within a couple of boat lengths, I will bear away
heading downwind.  The twing to port is snubbed, the pole comes back and
the sheet goes out FLYING THE SPINNAKER ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE MANEUVER!
c.    The pole is tripped normally but taken down on deck
IMMEDIATELY between the jib sheets so that the jib can be gybed.
d.    The genoa is gybed to port
e.    The spinnaker is dropped to weather down the hatch TO WEATHER
of the jib sheets.  Take care to keep the spinnaker un-twisted at the
drop so that it is set to hoist again later.
f.    Round the mark normally hardening up the genoa on port.

It is a FUN MANEUVER!  And it is VERY handy.  Don’t get focused on it
being hard because it isn’t.  It is simply a floater drop with gybe
thrown in.

5.    Practice with Linda/Kim/Cockpit crew calling lifts and headers
using both B&G and compasses and call laylines.  We will call laylines
using both the compass (note what our heading was on both tacks and
track the bearing to the mark) and also by using the “Opposite tack”
feature on the B&G.

Linda, Mike, Colum and Simon: You guys already know most of this stuff
but we want to review it for weak spots.  We will have a debrief
afterwards to review.

When we are done, we should have anyone in the cockpit crew able to set
all of the spinnaker sheets and guys on winches without coaching.  The
cockpit crew should be able to set up the B&G instruments to get true
wind speed and direction, call lifts and headers and call laylines using
the compass and B&G instruments.

Ari, Kim and Luke should be pretty coordinated between the cockpit,
sewer and foredeck during jib and spinnaker hoists and douses.

Remember, the goal is to have all of the crew able to work
autonomously.  So if I say “We will be doing a gybe-set at the weather
mark”, I am NOT coaching everyone how to do it.  That is SO SLOW, it
boggles the mind!  It takes TWO people out of the race!
This is a VERY full afternoon of practice so we might not cover
everything but this will be a lot more beneficial than a race for no
points.

Let me know if you can make it or not.

Dan

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