February 14, 2012

Lessons Learned - 2012 Florida Laser Masters Midweek Madness

by Doug

Midweek Madness was held at the beautiful US Sailing Center at Jensen Beach. The sun was hot and the wind was lighter - about 10-14 both days.

The starts were tight and I OCS'd one race. While it lost a good finish, it tells me that I'm pushing it, which is good.

As with most races, the first windward leg is the most important. People winning the races tended to bang a corner and then hang on to the lead. With the conditions, I was more conservative and played the frequent shifts up the middle. My boatspeed was not as good as it should have been in these medium conditions. Lesson learned: need to get a better feel for the boat - it's not yet an extension of my body.

The racing was really tight and the mark roundings were crowded. I got greedy at one windward mark, could not make it, and lost 2 places. Being more conservative, I ducked 4 boats at another windward mark and could not catch them on the run. I'm re-learning that mark roundings are an art more than a science.

The end of the course was a gate and then little hook. In race 4 I came in on port sailing hard by-the-lee in a gust and was able to ask 2 others for room. All I had to do was head up and finish, but I could not transition onto the reach and tipped. The boat right behind hit my rudder and it came off. Getting the boat up and rudder on cost 10 places. Got to work on my boat handling.

The waves were smaller and not really a factor upwind, although Peter Vessella was able to catch some of them downwind. He was the only person doing this. I'm not sure I learned anything from this.

During the chalk talk at the end of the first day, there was a discussion on ways to play the boom vang that I had not heard before. Otto Strandvig from Denmark (6'2", 210 pounds, 5th at the last Worlds) sails in medium wind with his vang super tight, with the boom block below the traveler block. It's the first time I've heard of a heavy person with a vang that tight in any condition. The other part of the discussion was how much people play their vang both upwind and on the runs - perhaps 15-20 times per leg. Lesson learned: still lots to learn, got to experiment more with this critical control.

Today is a day of practice with the top sailors here and a coach. Then we head off to the 3-day Master Midwinters.

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