Best Crew Practices

Good article from the May 2010 issue of Sailing World by Dan Rabin on the best crew practices. It’s a team sport…

@Stuart Streuli

@Stuart Streuli

One evening a few years ago I had the opportunity to drive a J/24. I had logged countless hours as a tactician and bowman on the boat, but I’d never helmed it. I finally appreciated why J/24 skippers are so batty: they can’t see anything. We did well in that race, though it wasn’t because of my driving skills. I had confidence in each person doing their job, and focused on trying to keep my act together. I was the new guy, while the rest of the crew had a lot of time together, so their communication and trust level were high.

I’ve been fortunate enough to race in a lot of different classes in varying roles. While I’ve been able to develop relatively deep expertise in some positions on certain boats, I think some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned have come through switching roles. There are high-level requirements to be consistently successful as a crew, no matter what position. In addition, we tend to execute our deep expertise skills unconsciously, while letting some of the more general best practices slip.

Full article can be read on their site here.

By |2010-05-26T13:39:27-07:00May 26th, 2010|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Tacking Tip Part 2: The Acceleration

p1010861Second part of an article from Bill Gladstone of North U on the US Sailing site.

A proper turn is just the first part of a tack. Part II – The Acceleration will complete the tack. As noted before, all the losses from tacking accrue during this critical second phase. Typically, (on keelboats) losses are between one and two boat lengths. Our goal is to minimize losses. Coming out of the tack directly to a close hauled course with full trim will leave us with a long slow acceleration and result in losses of two boat lengths or more. Coming out too low, on a close reach, will provide quicker acceleration but at a low angle. The losses from slow speed are reduced here, but losses from poor initial angle take their toll.

The challenge is to strike the best balance to achieve quick acceleration at the most effective angle. The correct angle varies with conditions, with a wider angle required in lighter winds and bigger seas.

The trimmers can help. The jib should be trimmed a few inches short of full trim. As the boat accelerates, the jib trimmer trims in the last few inches, reaching full trim as the boat reaches full speed. If you have a knot meter then the jib trimmer should note the speed before tacking and count down to the driver as the boat accelerates out of the tack: “We’re 2.5 knots slow… Speed building… 2 knots slow… 1.7… 1.5… 1 knot below full speed… Half a knot… Trimming up to full trim… 2… Coming to full trim… At full speed.”

Meanwhile, the main should be eased so that the driver can steer the boat down to fully load the jib without fighting the main. If the main is over trimmed, the driver will have to fight weather helm to push the boat down to the jib, which is slow. Ideally, the main sheet will be eased, traveler pulled up to center the boom, and backstay eased to add depth and power to the main. As the boat accelerates, the main trimmer should trim to create weather helm to help bring the boat up to the ultimate close hauled course without the driver having to use the helm. As the boat reaches full speed, the main sheet, traveler and backstay will be at optimum speed and pointing settings for the prevailing conditions.
The driver should steer the boat to have the jib telltales streaming and the jib fully loaded. It usually pays-off to sail low enough to get the outside jib telltales active (but not stalled). In the vernacular, you want to “press the jib” while accelerating, whereas once you are at full speed you can sail a bit higher and perhaps allow the very luff of the jib to unload.

As the boat resumes optimum close hauled speed and pointing, the tack is complete.

If you are on the layline, now (at full speed) is the time for forward crew to start spinnaker preparations. If time allows, it is much preferred to hike out (or sit still) until the tack is complete and the boat is at full speed before starting spinnaker prep.

If you are not on the layline, then it is time to prep for the next tack. It will be here, sooner or later. Best to be… “Ready About?”

By |2011-07-18T18:38:27-07:00April 30th, 2010|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Tacking Tip Part I: The Turn

wauburg_sailing_tackingAn article from Bill Gladstone of North U on the US Sailing site.

As mundane as they may seem, good tacks are essential to good racing. Make each tack a little better and you’ll save a few boat lengths every race.

Tacks can be divided into two parts: The Turn, and The Acceleration. Surprisingly, after The Turn you are ahead in VMG of where you would have been had you not tacked. All the losses due to tacking accrue during the critical second part – The Acceleration.

We’ll look at “The Turn” this week…

We are always ready to tack. Unless we’re on the layline, as we complete one tack the expected next maneuver is another tack. As soon as one tack is complete we prepare for the next one.

At “Ready About” do nothing, or at least, as little as possible. If hiked and sitting out board then one crew may need to turn inboard, but is it slow to have the entire crew turn in and stop hiking at “Ready About.” This slows the boat going into the tack and the penalty compounds throughout the tack. At “Ready About” you should hike harder as one crew member turns in and prepares for the jib release. At the helm, do NOT wind up (by which I mean, do not bear off onto a close reach) in preparation for tacking. Just keep sailing close hauled.

By |2011-07-18T10:22:37-07:00April 29th, 2010|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Fast Sails Come From Port Angeles

In fact, in 2005 Port Angeles’ Dan Kaseler of Raptor/Gaastra/Vandal Sails made the world’s fastest sail as Finian Maynard on a windsurfer set the record of 48.7 knots using a sail Dan designed. In 2009, Dan won the Pacific Coast Championship in his Melges 24, and he’s currently developing his Raptor sails for one of the most interesting boats around, the foiling Moth. In February, his sails took 1, 2 & 3 at the U.S. Moth Nationals, but in the notably light wind at the Worlds in Dubai, they are having a tougher time.

You can learn more about Raptor Sails at Dan’s web site here. Lifted from his site, a terrific foiling Moth video shot by Jack Nelson.

Moth* from Jack Nelson on Vimeo.

By |2010-03-14T19:14:29-07:00March 13th, 2010|Racing out of the Bay, Racing Skills|0 Comments

Dave Perry Racing Tips: Location… Location… Location


Looks like a boat start was favored this night

Some ideas on where to start on the line from Dave Perry from the US Sailing site.

Just like buying a new home, the key to getting a good start is location, location, location. I divide the starting line into three regions. I call the quarter of the line nearest the pin end of the line – The Pin, the quarter of the line nearest the race committee boat – The Boat, and the section in between – The Middle. Before every start I decide which region, and what part of each region I am going to start in.

The Pin – I plan to start in The Pin when the pin end is favored (more upwind in an upwind start) or the left side of the first beat is favored (pressure, shift, current). I remind myself that starting in The Pin is the riskiest region; the most difficult to get a good start in especially if I am slow, and the hardest to find clear air after if I don’t get a good start. If I choose to start in The Pin, especially early in a series, I will start at the uppermost area of The Pin, with several boats between me and the pin.

By |2011-09-01T20:26:21-07:00March 4th, 2010|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Racing Seminar Presented to Full House at the Northwest Maritime Center

Lecture attendees filter in to the meeting room at the Northwest Maritime Center

Lecture attendees filter into the meeting room at the Northwest Maritime Center

The title “Racing on the Bay:  the Insiders Advantage” drew over one hundred sailboat skippers and crew  wanting to learn the secrets of sailboat racing on Port Townsend Bay. Lifetime  Port Townsend sailors Daubie Daubenberger and  Joe Daubenberger shared their expert knowledge gathered from decades of sailing and racing, with additional input from ace sailors Piper Dunlap and  Stig Osterberg.

Pete Helsell of the NWMC introduces 3 of the 4 speakers, Joe and Daubie Daubenberger and Stig Osterberg.

Pete Helsell of the NWMC introduces 3 of the 4 speakers, Joe and Daubie Daubenberger and Stig Osterberg.

All speakers agreed that to be competitive it is essential to do basic boat preparation, crew practice in  tacking, jibing and all assorted maneuvers. Daubie presented and elaborated on three racing principles: Technique, Tactics and Strategy. Piper complemented this with numerous illustrations on a dry-erase board, and Joe and Stig provided back up, clarification, and examples to bring the illustrations to life. The evening ended with  a slide show of second-by-second racing sequences from the start of one of last year’s races, and the lecturers evaluation and instructive critique of the boats in each slide. It was truly an informative presentation… an evening of great interaction with much sage advice.

Piper uses illustrates information presented by Daubie to an attentive audience

Piper illustrates information presented by Daubie to an attentive audience

We (the PTSA Board of Directors) hoped this event would  create enthusiasm for new sailors to join us in racing on the Bay, and in the final analysis appears to have done so. We have enrolled 7 new members to the organization, and at the end of the evening we had  collected $875 in annual dues from new and existing members, $20 for youth sailing, $125 in burgee sales, and $485 in lecture  admission. The total expense for production of the evening was about $355 (all receipts are not yet in but this is close), and these funds will be used to cover the organization’s 2010  operating expenses outlined in an earlier post to this website.

Secretary Steve Scharf shows his PTSA spirit

Secretary Steve Scharf shows his PTSA spirit

A huge THANK YOU goes out to our presenters, and to all who helped with organization, advertisement, and the dirty work of setting up and putting away chairs…and of course to all you sailboat racing junkies who attended the lecture and are itching to get out on the water and commence with the fun!

By |2011-07-18T10:17:17-07:00March 2nd, 2010|Racing on the Bay, Racing Skills|0 Comments

When to split tacks

p1020019 Bill Gladstone, the author of the North U series of racing books, has a posting on US Sailing site on when to split tacks with the leaders when you are behind.

You know the old adage: “Can’t catch ‘em if we follow ‘em.” So, when you are behind you’ve got to split tacks to catch the leaders. In fact, splitting tacks is often a gamble with poor odds of success. To understand why, first answer this question:  Which way are the leaders going, the right way or the wrong way?  (Hint: they are in the lead.) If they are going the right way then splitting to go the wrong way is a low percentage play.

What to do instead:
First off, recognize that if the leaders don’t make any mistakes, you won’t catch them.
Don’t just split tacks for the sake of splitting. You’ve got to sail fast, and stay within striking distance so you can pass when they stumble. When the leaders are going the right way, then go that way. If they become preoccupied tactically and miss a shift, or fail to respond to a change in conditions (either tactically or in trim) then you get your chance.

But if you split for the sake of splitting and go the wrong way, then you will likely fall further behind; and you won’t be in position to capitalize when the leaders make a mistake.

Sail fast, be patient, and pounce when the opportunity arises.

By |2011-07-18T10:35:47-07:00February 26th, 2010|Racing on the Bay, Racing Skills|0 Comments

Goals for the coming season

I bet there’s more than one boat that has a goal for the coming season of doing a better job handling their spinnaker. Here’s an interesting video of Philippe Kahn’s crew practicing jibes in a Mumm 30.  Lots of things to learn watching this clip.

By |2010-01-20T21:34:20-08:00January 20th, 2010|Racing Skills|2 Comments

Pegasus Goes Round the County


Pegasus leads the fleet into Haro Strait

A Beginner’s guide to the Round the County race, by Dan Newland

Close to Thanksgiving, many boaters love to sail “South of the Border”, however that generally assumes the US border, not the Canadian.  But for 21 years, sailboats in the Puget Sound area have participated in a two day event that is more akin to an ocean race than an inland sail at a time of year that often brings storms, snow and freezing rain.

Being new to the area, we had not sailed on any of the larger, well attended and competitive races in the area.  This year, we decided to change that and participate in what has become the popular and very challenging, Orcas Island Yacht Club “Round the County” Race.  The RTC has been always been a little bit different.  The race circumnavigates San Juan County in November when sane people are wearing ski parkas, not foul weather gear.  It also alternates between clockwise on even years and counterclockwise on odd years.  Here, you are surrounded by snow capped mountains and clear water with fir, cedar and maple trees seeming to disappear into the water.  And if it weren’t for the horizontal rain and wind whipped waves, I’m sure we would have seen just that.

By |2011-07-18T10:11:48-07:00December 16th, 2009|Racing out of the Bay, Racing Skills|0 Comments