A local Dallas club hosted the state championships this past weekend. This is the home of that "special" Laser fleet. So you know, this is one event I just had to attend. Two things made this event interesting - one was the unusual course and a trick that helped win the event. And the second was a long overdue spanking.
After one of my favorite sailors (said sarcastically) took some liberties with the rules, I took the liberty of sailing moderately aggressively against him. These actions prompted the sailor to offer me some unsolicited advice, sprinkled with lots of colorful language that somehow made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. After 8 races, I discarded a 3 and finished with 9 points. I must say it was one of my most satisfying wins in recent months (results).
Tactically, the first day was really interesting:
- We had 22 sailors, with about 15 skilled.
- The conditions were shifty with lots of holes.
- A windward leeward course with mid-line start/finish.
- The line was pin-favored and looked very tempting.
- The windward mark was set to the right.
- The first beat was really short, as little as 2 minutes.
- When the wind went left, it was possible to lay the mark by starting at the pin on port tack.
Starting was everything. So, what trick helped me win 4 of the 5 races on Saturday? It's human nature to start at the pin when it's that favored, but I could not tack early enough to consolidate. With a good line sight, I could start in the middle of the line and then tack away. But this is risky because there are boats on my hip that prevent tacking. The best start was at the committee boat because the boats below cannot tack. The key was picking exactly when to tack, even if it's not until the port tack layline. In each of the 4 races, I had the option to tack when I wanted and was the first one to do so.
Note to self: with a really short first leg, the first boat to tack has the best chance of winning. Boatspeed, line bias, and shifts are all secondary.
On Sunday, we had a longer windward leg and Colin, a young and very talented college sailor, had great finishes of 1, 1, and 3. Here he talks about how he did it: