April 02, 2014

Cheap Sunglasses

by Pam
This video still makes me laugh. Luigi was a relatively new sailor in our Butterfly fleet and learned the hard way that you don't sail with expensive sunglasses. He didn't know what happened to his sunglasses until he saw the video from the GoPro that a fleet member had mounted on his mast.

Sailing in the Middle of the Fleet - Sailing Downwind Part 4

By Doug
There are even more reasons for a middle-of-the-fleet sailor to try sailing by the lee downwind.

We're allowed one wind indicator on a Laser, and most put theirs in front of the boom. I don't like this for two reasons.
  • It gives false readings because of the wind flowing around the sail and the position of my body being in the way.
  • A reading at the top of the mast is more accurate and it helps sail by the lee. Looking up on a run, I start with the wind coming from behind. Bearing off, the wind shifts to being over my left shoulder and I pull in the main to try sailing by the lee. Life is good! If the wind shifts to over my right shoulder, I jibe the boom and bear off to try sailing by the lee again to get the wind flowing the other way across the main:
From behind                       By the lee                       Ah, a shift                            By the lee again
This has the advantage of making me much more aware of where the wind is coming from and helps me play the shifts going downwind.

And there's one more reason. But below a certain wind strength, none of sailing by the lee works and it's best to let the boom out and just head for the bottom mark. But above a certain wind strength, sailing by the lee has the additional benefit of being more stable. You see, when the boom is out and a gust hits, the extra twist at the top of the sail pushes to windward which is why when boats on a run tip in a gust, it’s almost always to windward. Sailing by the lee in a breeze is much safer and reduces the chance of an unscheduled swim.

March 27, 2014

Sailing in the Middle of the Fleet - Sailing Downwind Part 3

By Doug
Why can sailing by the lee sometimes be fast? It's counter-intuitive that pulling your boom in to catch less wind on a run can actually make you go faster. While this post is to help middle-of-the-fleet sailors, others might benefit from the following.

From a design perspective, the Laser's mast was revolutionary. But from an efficiency perspective, a Laser mast is located, like all other masts, exactly where you do not want it to be.

On the left we see a boat with a jib when going upwind. The drag is in red and is hardly visible because the forestay holding the jib creates hardly any turbulence. Jibs are efficient because they have very little drag and they have a whole lot of lift. On the right is a Laser and there is much more turbulence because of the mast. So much so that the front of a main does not work properly which is why telltales cannot be placed too close to the mast: 

There's something else that is important - having the wind flow across the sail is fast. This is why sailing on a reach is faster than sailing on a run. And why asymmetrical spinnakers are faster than traditional spinnakers. And why a house roof that is low is more at risk in a hurricane than a higher roof with steeper angles. The reason is that the wind creates a lot more lift when it goes across an object than when it’s just trapped by an object.

In a perfect world sailing downwind, masts would not create turbulence and the wind would always flow across sails. But this is not how we sail. As shown below, the boat on the left has its sail all the way out and is trapping lots of wind, creating lots of turbulent drag, and generating no lift. The drag is in the correct direction so the boat is literally being dragged downwind. The boat on the right has the boom pulled in and the main looks a lot like a jib going upwind - but there is no mast at the leading edge to create turbulence and the wind is flowing across the sail:

  
So the sail on the left is catching more wind while the sail on the right is more efficient. Sometimes more is better and sometimes efficient is better. Sailing by the lee is knowing when to shift from one to the other. Here are some tips:
  • I try to steer with my weight, so bearing off is leaning out to heel to windward. As a result, the end of my boom actually torques back and up at the same time. It feels like I’m “scooping” more pressure and, when timed properly, it feels very fast.
  • With the boom in, the pressure on the main sheet goes from hardly any pressure and wanting to jibe to really powered up and driving forward. Timing this power properly can be a great way to catch even small waves. Again, this can be fast.
  • I like to set the vang so that the leach stretches and “breathes” back and forth about 8 inches. This is a completely natural and legal pumping motion, and a gift from the laws of physics.
  • In addition, you can bear off or use your main sheet to pump the main once per wave. This is significant because you’re pumping the leading edge of the sail which is super effective because that’s where all of the lift comes from. This is the only time in sailing when you can pump the part of a sail that has all of the lift.

March 23, 2014

Sailing in the Middle of the Fleet - Sailing Downwind Part 2

By Doug
More comments and questions from Pam. 'The sailing by the lee explanation finally clicked with me - but how far do you trim the sail in or out to make this work?'

It's a great question because sailing normally, when the wind flows from the luff to the leach, you trim and steer by looking at the telltales and the front of the sail. Does this mean that we need telltales at the leach for sailing by the lee?

The answer is no because people sailing by the lee rarely look at the sail. You sail by trying to feel the maximum pressure on the mainsheet. With the ratchet turned off this pressure will sometimes double, but it does not last long. Your goal is to hold this extra pressure for as long as you can - 5 seconds if you're lucky. You then let your sheet out a little before pulling it in again.

This action is very gentle and is not pumping but this extra pressure is not always easy to find. The lighter the breeze, the harder the extra pressure is to find and below 10 knots, it might not be possible for a beginner to find at all. When it does work your sail is actually generating lift instead of just catching the wind by stalling, which is what it's doing when your boom is out.

As a rule, you'll feel the strongest pressure just before the sail wants to jibe. Here's Tom Slingsby from the Perth Worlds video (at 21:02) where his leach is folding and the sail wants to jibe: 

Tom heads up to prevent jibing, but only slightly because his trim is fast.
So remember, sailing by the lee without the extra pressure can be slow. If you cannot find it within a few seconds, it's best to let the boom out to its regular "stalled" position and then try again in 10 seconds. It's a constant search for extra speed, which is another reason why it's so good for middle-of-the-fleet sailors. 

Sailing on a run downwind the with the boom out is like taking a break. Sailing by the lee makes you more aware of what your boat is doing and gives you things to try when other sailors are taking a break.

This post is about how to make it work. Our next post will be why it works and will include gifts from laws of physics: perfectly legal pumping.

March 11, 2014

Sailing in the Middle of the Fleet - Sailing Downwind Part 1

By Doug
Many of these blog posts start with questions from Pam. Her latest ones were "How do you play shifts downwind" and "Why didn't you do more sailing-in-the middle-of-the-fleet for downwind?" So, here goes.

Going upwind, when everything is even neither green nor red has the advantage:


But this seldom lasts for long. When the wind shifts to the right, green is on a lift and red is on a knock (or a header) and should tack:


And then the wind shifts to the left, green is now on a knock and red is on a lift. Green should tack:


So a rule when sailing upwind is:
·         if the wind helps you to head up on a lift, that's good because you're heading closer to the mark.
·      if the wind forces you to bear away on a knock, that's bad because you're heading away from the mark and you should tack.

There's nothing new here because this is something that most middle-of-the-fleet sailors know. But when you're going downwind, the shifts are harder to feel because you're going with the wind and your sail will not stall, so it's not as sensitive to these changes. Knowing how to play the shifts represents a great opportunity for middle-of-the-fleet sailors to make gains. (A word of caution: the following is how I sail a Laser or a similar boat with just one sail - other boats will do things differently).

Going downwind when it's steady, neither green nor red has the advantage:


When the wind shifts to the right, green might trim the sail in a little and red might trim out a little:


And then the wind shifts to the left, green might trim the sail out a little and red might trim in a little:


This is one correct way to play the shifts downwind, but most middle-of-the-fleet sailors will not notice these shifts and will not make the correct adjustments. If you do, then you'll gain a little.

But when there's a bit of wind, there's a much better way to play the shifts going downwind. Let's start by looking at the fastest point of sailing - being on a reach:


Anytime that you can set your boat up for a reach you'll gain speed. Let's look at this a little more closely:


The wind flows from the leach to the luff of the sail and pushes the boat forward. But here's a really interesting fact - the same force would be generated even if the wind was coming from the the opposite direction:


So why is this important? Because if you rotate this diagram 90 degrees, red is on a run, but the force on the sail is the same as though it's on a reach:


This is called sailing 'by the lee' (leach to luff vs luff to leach) and there are so many reasons why this is really fast that we'll have to cover this in another post. But for now, just remember that that sailing on a reach is really fast.

So when the wind goes right, instead of red trimming the sail out as we have seen above, it can be much faster to trim the sail in:

The wind goes right, one red trims out....                the other trims in.
When sailing downwind, I'm always looking for a way to trim the sail in relative to the wind. Red on the right is the fastest, and green is the slowest and should jibe and sail by the lee ASAP.

And the opposite is true - when the wind goes left, instead of green trimming the sail out, it's much faster to trim the sail in:


The wind goes left, one green trims out...                  the other trims in.
So when the wind is above 10 knots, the rule when sailing downwind is:
·       sail the course that helps you keep trying to trim the sail in.

It's simple! I look for this all the time - I try to sail by the lee as much as possible because it's an easy way to look for speed. It does not always work and I probably jibe more than anyone else in the fleet, but there's always something to try to get extra boatspeed.

It's fast! Using this simple trick, a middle-of-the-fleet sailor can actually start to have the speed of a really fast sailor. How fast? Like Tom Slingsby on his way to winning the Laser Worlds in Perth:

World-class speed sailing on a run... with the sail trimmed in.
Check out this video starting at 20:00. When Tom is on a run, he does everything he can to trim the sail in to sail by the lee. Here's how the wind is moving across Tom's sail at this moment:


There are lots of other ways for middle-of-the-fleet sailors to improve when sailing downwind. We'll look at these in detail next.

March 08, 2014

What's Wrong With This Picture?

By Doug
This is a beautiful watercolor in our doctor's office. The artist took great care to make this picture as realistic as possible, even though the artist was not a sailor. How do we know this?

March 05, 2014

Radial or Full Rig - Part 4

by Doug
Al Clark -(left) and Steve Cockerill (right) - competitive in both a Radial and full rig
How do you choose between a Radial and a full rig when you want to compete at the highest level for your age group and you want a shot at winning?

Two sailors from Sydney showed that you can't choose a rig by your weight. Brendan Casey was at least 180 pounds (81 kg) when he twice won the Open Radial Worlds and Peter Heywood was 150 pounds (68 kg) when he came 5th in the Standard Master Worlds. Each sailor was way outside the recommended weight for their rig, and yet both were extremely competitive as the results show.

So, what does this mean? For me, it's simple: you practice against the people who give you the most competition - if the locals sail in full-rigs, then you will look for ways to join them, and if they sail Radials then you'll consider Radials.

But for the big events (for me a Worlds), you need to take more into consideration: your weight, height, the expected conditions, health, conditioning and which rig you've been practicing and competing in.

It was clear at the Oman Worlds that many of the Masters and Open sailors including Robert Scheidt had lost weight in preparation for the expected light conditions. And in windy venues, many of the tops sailors will arrive with extra weight.

I put on 10 pounds in preparation for Chile and was 185 pounds (83 kg). It was one of the first times I ever felt in control of the boat in a breeze. I was only passed once upwind in the entire 11 race series. When you are light and sailing in waves in a breeze, you tend to get knocked around going up and down waves but with the extra weight that doesn't happen as much. Mark Bethwaite's comment was that between the prior Worlds and the Chile Worlds, the difference was that I had learned to sail in a breeze. For me, the extra weight made a huge difference.

I showed up light in Halifax weighing just 168 pounds (76 kg) unable to put on weight after a change of diet. While very competitive in the light stuff, in the heavy breeze, I was suffering. The front row tended to be even and I would finish within 30 seconds of the front row but that usually meant 5th to 7th place. I was fit and had trained hard for Halifax but just couldn't hang with the front row. The only time I had speed and led was in the light stuff but it was mainly a windy series so my finish position was 6th. For me, being that light put me at least 10 seconds per upwind leg off the pace of the front row. Frustrating to lose ground to the front row every upwind leg.

Some sailors like Al Clark and Steve Cockerill are fortunate to have the choice of being able to switch from one rig to another based on the expected conditions since they get the opportunity to practice against good competition in both rigs. For others, the decision is harder.

If I look back at the conditions in Oman and my lack of practice in a Radial, my decision to sail a Radial was wrong. But if I look at my health issues at the time (shoulder, vision), it was the right decision.

So for the major events, it's clear to me that each person has to make his or her own decision, then enjoy the ride, and learn from the experience.

February 27, 2014

Radial or Full Rig - Part 3

by Pam
So what happens if you are a light weight sailor but, for whatever reason, you end up sailing the full rig? Can you be competitive? Can you even sail the bigger rig in a breeze?

In Doug's case, the answer is yes and yes but maybe the top three in a breeze might be too hopeful … maybe not … time will tell. He can definitely hold his own downwind and even gain, but upwind, he's going to be overpowered and hiking for all he's worth. He'll have to be fitter than his competition.

In my case, I had the unfortunate experience of being in a full rig in too much wind and the answer was no and no. Doug had sailed by me between races as the breeze built and had me pull on the controls as tight as possible. Flatten and torture the sail but let the main out upwind and hike like mad. I made it upwind but going downwind was terrifying and ultimately it was the downwind that blew me off the course. Competitive wasn't possible at my weight, survival upwind was possible but downwind was my undoing.

I kept looking for answers and kept asking questions and eventually had the opportunity to ask Jeff Linton, Frank Bethwaite, and Julian Bethwaite. They all had answers.

Jeff Linton was referring to me sailing a Sunfish in a breeze. He essentially said that I should get really good in the light stuff and learn to survive in the heavy stuff and stay on the course and let the law of averages work in my favor. If the series was more light than heavy, I've got a shot at being competitive. But I had to learn to survive in the heavy stuff and stay on the course.

Frank Bethwaite said that I really wouldn't be competitive (top of the fleet) but surviving and staying on the course was possible and he'd written about it extensively:


"Some years ago I coached several mature and experienced sailors on the 59er, and I was astonished to find that so many of them were unaware of the steer-for-balance principle. More accurately, most thought they knew what it meant--and that they would be able to use it naturally, if and when it became necessary. But when faced with real speed and a sudden gust they turned the boat the wrong way and simply "lost it."

Only a handful of experienced sailors know how to control a sailboat at speed and get peak performance while doing so. Most top sailors believe they know what steer-for-balance is, and they believe they can do it. But when put to the test, they don't know and they cannot do it."

The article goes on to recommend training techniques to learn the steer for balance technique which would make staying on the course and surviving much more likely.

Julian Bethwaite essentially said the same thing as his Dad, keep the boat under the sails and you'll stay upright. There is an interview of a somewhat legendary episode in which he proves it's possible to do just that:


… with rival groups looking to put out the message that it wasn’t possible to sail the boat [the 49er] in more than a Force 3 (7-10 knots) …

… Bethwaite took the boat out for a spot of singlehanded sailing. Albeit he set off upwind in just 4 knots of wind, not particularly challenging – until the [Guarda] Ora started rolling down the lake and left Bethwaite with a 15-knot sleigh ride back down to Torbole.

At this point Bethwaite, a former 18-foot skiff world champion, had a decision to make. Do the sensible thing and drop the sails while he waited for a tow back to shore, or charge back downwind in too much wind with too much sail area. In his words it was “No guts, no glory!” and he hoisted the gennaker for a rapid return to the sailing club. He even gybed the boat, survived it and then dropped the gennaker and rounded up immaculately, right in front of a crowd of dignitaries that included the ISAF President of the time, Paul Henderson, and the Kings of Greece and Norway. Bethwaite admits that if he had tried it again it might not have worked out so well, but his singlehanded escapade was yet another piece of the jigsaw that slotted nicely into place and saw the 49er go on to win the Garda trials comfortably. 

Paul Henderson stepped in and said the 49er was definitely in [the Olympics], and so asked ISAF Council to vote one of the incumbent classes out.

So, while I'm never going to be Julian Bethwaite, it's still nice hear and see an example of just how possible it is to sail downwind with too much sail and too much wind and survive, gybe and thrive. When it warms up a bit, I believe I'm going to take Frank's advice this year and spend some time crashing the boat and learning the steer for balance technique.

As Doug learns to be competitive at a lighter weight, I have a feeling that he'll naturally find a few techniques that might compensate for being lighter than his competition, besides being fitter than everyone else. When I first met him, I was sailing a Butterfly against mostly men as I was learning to sail. I'd match their sail trim and point with them and they'd leave me behind. Doug stepped in and pointed out the obvious. I didn't have the weight to trim and point the same way they did. Since I was hiking much earlier than they were, I could start feathering into the wind instead of footing and low and behold, I had the same speed but was pointing significantly higher. Win, win! It worked so well I had to actually start paying attention to the course board before the start instead of just following the leader all the time.


Stay tuned for Doug's adventures and see what he learns this year. 

February 25, 2014

Radial or Full Rig - Part 2

by Doug
My first Radial event was the 1992 NA's which was held at a local club. I finished 2nd behind former World Champion Peter Katcha, but there was very little wind and I did not learn much. Besides that one event, I sailed full-rigs exclusively from 1976 to 2012.

Living on lakes and sailing at night, I developed a good feel for light to medium winds. At the 1993 open Midwinters, there were 180 boats and I finished 5th at the age of 42 which was encouraging. And at the open 120 boat CORK Regatta later that year I was told by another competitor that I had "the fastest straight line boatspeed" in medium winds. So medium conditions in a full-rig was definitely my comfort zone, and I continued to focus on this.

So, why change to a Radial for the 2012 Master Worlds in Brisbane?
There were four reasons:
  • Weight: I weighed 185 lbs (83 kg) when I won the 1997 Master Worlds and 180 lbs (81 kg) when I won the 2006 Grand Master Worlds. In 2012 I was struggling to get up to 170 lbs (77 kg).
  • Forced rig change: With only a few more years before turning 65, I decided it was time to start learning how to sail a Radial.
  • Forecast: Brisbane gets windy.
  • Hubris: A race at the Worlds will not start under 5 knots, so light-air speed is irrelevant. My comfort zone in medium conditions led me to believe that heavy-air should be my focus for improvement, so I decided it was better to be a little heavy in a Radial than light in a full-rig.
Before the Brisbane Master Worlds, the 2012 Open NA's were in Houston and I wanted the competition. With only 16 boats registered in the full-rigs, I decided to sail in the 46-boat Radial fleet. It had rock stars like World Champion Erika Reineke. My upwind speed in a breeze was getting better and I led at the first mark 3 times.

The 2012 Master Australian Championships was held just before the Master Worlds. The middle day had winds gusting over 25 knots and I led at the first mark in all three races. At the following Brisbane Worlds, I rounded first 4 times and second 3 times. So, speed in a breeze was getting good.

Now, I know that downwind speed is also important, but being at or near the front at the first mark is, in my opinion, crucial to success in a good fleet. And living in Dallas with no competition makes it really hard to develop good downwind speed (which is why I arrive early at Worlds to get used to the wave conditions).

The forecast for Oman was medium conditions, and Pam kept suggesting that I switch to a full rig. But there were two health issues that tipped the balance for me: a torn rotator cuff and a torn retina just before leaving for Oman - I just did not feel safe sailing a full rig if it got really windy.

So, here's how I approached the Oman Master Worlds:
  • Light conditions meant no sailing.
  • Medium conditions was my comfort zone.
  • Windy conditions was my focus for improvement.
As it turned out (ignoring the medical factors), I made one huge mistake. As I wrote in this blog, I do not know of any single person who is the fastest in all conditions, so it's best to perfect your own conditions and then be reasonably competitive in the others. For Oman, I assumed that my medium speed was good and my weakness would be windy conditions.

Unfortunately, my good medium conditions speed in a full-rig did not translate into speed in a Radial. And those were the only conditions that we got in Oman.

None of the full-rig techniques that I'd developed over the years worked in the Radial, and my upwind speed was very average. Things that power a full-rig feel empty in a Radial, and ways to get more lift out of the centerboard just do not work. We're talking very fine adjustments for very slight changes, but that's what is needed in a Worlds fleet. A lack of boatspeed at a Worlds event makes for a very long week.

So, what's next? Thanks to Mark Bethwaite's lobbing efforts, it looks like the Great Grand Masters may have a full-rig option, so I'm looking forward to staying competitive in a full-rig rather than starting over again in a Radial.

I might be able to get to 175 lbs (79kg) and still be competitive in windy conditions (like Peter Shope) but isn't staying fit one of the benefits of sailing a Laser? It's certainly the best incentive that I know of.

February 23, 2014

Radial or Full Rig - Part 1

by Pam
We had a reader who noted Doug's recent decision to never sail a Radial again after getting chicked at the Laser Master Worlds in Oman and asked if Doug would elaborate on the reasons for his decision. Short answer (and I suspect the real answer) is that women don't sail full rigs at the Worlds so he'll never get chicked again. Long answer is more complicated but was also decided by the experience in Oman.

Weight and Rig

Lots of people have written about the recommended weights for the various rig sizes and there are differing opinions. Even Performance Sailcraft Australia and Laser Performance have differing recommendations on their websites.

SourceStandardRadial4.7
PSA Brochure65+ kg
143+ lbs
55-65 kg
121-143 lbs
35-55 kg
77-121 lbs
PSA Pathway70+ kg
154+ lbs
65-74 kg
143-163 lbs
55-65 kg
121-143 lbs
LP73-86 kg
160-190 lbs
55-72 kg
121-159 lbs
45-54 kg
100-120 lbs

Decision for Local Fleet Sailing

Doug and I sail at opposite ends of the experience spectrum. He wants to win at the highest level and I just want to use the Laser as a training tool for other boats and to stay fit. Even though we sail at different levels and for different reasons, we often make the same decision for the same reason. From the below average to the highly experienced sailor, regardless of weight, the decision will always come down to the constant: what people in your fleet are sailing vs. the variable: what you can handle comfortably. And what you can handle comfortably will vary depending on the weather at the venues where you sail.

Even though Doug is quite competitive in a full rig, he'd lost enough weight that he had decided to switch to the Radial at World events so that he would be more competitive. However, he still only sailed a full rig for local fleet sailing. In fact, since 2012 he's only sailed a Radial in 4 regattas (2012 US Laser Nationals - 7th out of 46; 2012 Australian Master Nationals - 3rd out of 27; 2012 Brisbane Master Worlds - 4th out of 26; 2013 Oman Master Worlds - 4th out of 23). We both agree he made a mistake in choice of rig in Oman but there were health variables that made it the smarter decision but he also learned some very important lessons which is the basis for returning to a full rig only and he'll elaborate on that in Radial or Full Rig - Part 2

There aren't many (usually any) masters aged women in my district that sail a Laser. Being a light sailor, I should be in a Radial or even a 4.7 but when I do sail a Laser it is almost always in a full rig simply because I would rather start with and compete against people my own age rather than kids (they rarely mix the fleets in our district). I have a better shot at beating a master sailor in a full rig than a kid in a Radial or 4.7. If the wind is light, I have a really good shot at beating a few guys my own age but if the wind is heavy I only have a slim shot at not being blown off the course. In reality, I sail a full rig in light to medium winds and then become a spectator in heavier winds. I could certainly switch to a Radial in heavier winds but that puts me with the kids and I'm not fit enough to go head to head with a kid in wind and certainly don't want to be reminded that I'm no longer a kid. So my experience in a Laser in heavy winds is usually double handed with Doug, which is kind of cool because if I'm tired, he hikes while I drive, and I get one on one coaching and it's a blast.

So, bottom line, whatever rig is best for you will likely get trumped by whatever rig the bulk of the fleet is sailing. If you are fortunate enough to have good fleets for both rigs, then go for the rig that is the most fun (you'll stay with the sport longer).

Decision for World Level Sailing

Below are Doug's weights, rigs, and finishes at various World/National venues after he started keeping track of his weight:

YearVenueConditionsRigWeightFinish
2013Oman Master WorldsLightRadial168 lbs / 76 kg4th
2012Brisbane Master WorldsMediumRadial172 lbs / 78 kg4th
2012Brisbane AU Master NationalsWindyRadial172 lbs / 78 kg3rd
2012Houston US NationalsMixedRadial168 lbs / 76 kg7th
2010Halifax Master WorldsWindyStandard168 lbs / 76 kg6th
2008Sydney Master WorldsMediumStandard190 lbs / 86 kg12th
2007Spain Master WorldsMediumStandard186 lbs / 85 kg9th
2006Korea Master WorldsMixedStandard180 lbs / 81 kg1st
2001Ireland Master WorldsMediumStandard183 lbs / 83 kg8th
2000Cancun Master WorldsMediumStandard183 lbs / 83 kg3rd
1999Melbourne Master WorldsHonkingStandard182 lbs / 82 kg3rd
1998Gorge Master World GamesHonkingStandard182 lbs / 82 kg2nd
1997Chile Master WorldsMixedStandard185 lbs / 83 kg1st

Doug has what I would call a very intimate relationship with the full rig but the Radial is an absolute stranger.  He has sailed a full rig thousands of times in just about every condition possible and he knows what subtle boat handling changes to make as the conditions change. He takes advantage of changes that last only seconds and might only move him a few seconds ahead but those add up at the finish line. When it comes to the Radial, he can't feel the boat at all. The subtle things that work in the full rig just don't work in the Radial. At the Brisbane Master Worlds, he was a half a leg ahead in the Radial fleet at one point and still pulling away.  He couldn't repeat that again if he tried because he didn't know what he was doing and why it was working. I had already challenged him on whether he really knew how to sail a Radial since he didn't sail it regularly. There may or may not be a variety of subtle changes that he can make in the Radial that add up at the finish line but without much experience, he's just a very good sailor in a rig he doesn't know. He'll do well but probably won't beat someone with more experience in that rig. In Oman, he watched Vanessa (who constantly smiled back at him) and he matched what he saw her doing and she just kept smiling back at him and going faster.

In Part 2, we'll hear Doug's reasons for changing to a Radial and back to a full rig … so that he'll never get chicked at a Worlds again.
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