Heavy Air Racing Techniques

Shipwrights Regatta is coming up. Here’s a post we could have used last year from Dobbs Davis on Destination One Design.

Sydney Hobart Line Honors winning WILD OATS finishes under double reef and small jib.

Sydney Hobart Line Honors winning WILD OATS finishes under double reef and small jib.

Racing in heavy air can be exhilarating or intimidating, depending on how well the boat and the crew are set up to deal with the conditions. Unlike light-air racing, where the challenge is mostly mental, sailing in the breeze can be physically demanding, with static and dynamic loads on running and standing rigging regularly reaching dangerous levels even aboard small boats. Combine this with the constant motion on board created by wave action, and you can have a real challenge for the crew to maintain their efficiency.

A few weeks ago, 18 1D35s from throughout the US converged on San Francisco Bay for their three-day National Championship regatta. Most sailors acknowledge the Bay as a heavy-air venue, particularly in late summer, and the Bay delivered as promised. Record-breaking heat in the region helped fuel a strong westerly rush of cool air off the Pacific, which sped through the Golden Gate every day and across the Berkeley Circle where the competition took place. Race managers from the San Francisco Yacht Club set three windward-leeward courses daily in breezes that ranged from 15 to over 30 knots.

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