|AUS lifted inside, CYP ahead outside|
Doug writes his posts primarily for me and nothing gets posted until I understand what he is saying and in his efforts to simplify things for me, he learns too. I started this blog because I thought people might enjoy learning along with us.
Recently, Doug wrote Angles: Better Than Boatspeed which drew some comments from an Olympic sailor who did not agree. Doug recently asked Brett Beyer offline about his thoughts on the post. Brett didn’t agree with some aspects of Doug’s post and supplemented that there was another factor to consider, TIME (before laylines, knocks, etc.). Brett would not have tacked if he were CYP. He felt CYP's only option was to wait for the inside lift to fizzle and for the wind to shift back (knock) where CYP would then be able to tack into a more favorable position. I must admit I didn’t totally understand his comments after working so hard to understand Doug’s post. But since Doug’s time with Frank Bethwaite is still a significant influence on his sailing and since Brett knew and worked with Frank as well, and even wrote the chapter on Laser trim and handling in Frank’s last book, Fast Handling Techniques, which will be available later this year, I decided to go back to the source.
First, I pulled out Doug’s copy of Frank’s latest book, Higher Performance Sailing which directed me to chapters 10, 11, and 12 of High Performance Sailing with respect to persistent shifts. And there, in Doug’s book with the inscription from Frank ‘With pleasant memories of shared dreams,’ I turned to a heavily highlighted Chapter 11 with terms like angles, percentage sailing, fleet sailing [round-the-buoy racing], minimum-time sailing [ocean racing], defensive sailing, etc. Some familiar terms. It’s official, Doug has reached that age where he’s learned so much, he’s forgotten from whom he learned it. He couldn't recall Frank mentioning angles or percentage sailing.
On page 131 of HPS1, Frank explains that knowing when to tack is easy if your mind holds a correct image of the wind. He describes the 'direct method' of accurately sensing the wind which he says is particularly effective in unsteady winds:
The rule is, ‘if a boat on the same tack, either ahead or behind, is pointing significantly higher than you are, or a boat on the other tack is pointing lower than expected, you must be in a header, so tack.’ The great advantage of this method is that the present pattern in your area is continuously revealed, and as well, the direction of the mean wind is constantly revealed and corrected. Use this method, always, when you are in close company, and never forget to keep looking over your shoulder, at the boats behind, particularly when you are in the lead.
Hmmm… this sounds like the basis of Doug’s angles post. When close to another boat, you are either lifted or headed relative to the other boat. Doug has taken that to mean that when near another boat, he is judging his lifts and headers by the other boat and not the course or compass and he tacks accordingly. While Brett acknowledged AUS was lifted and making a relative gain, he indicated CYP might also be lifted and tacking would negate that. But Frank’s statement indicates that the angle to the other boat is telling you what the wind is in your area. Now I’m confused.
But wait, it gets better. Then we move on to additional statements in HPS1:
The technique above, slightly extended, is what fleet sailing is all about.
When you are sailing in conditions in which there is no regular pattern this technique can be further extended to become ‘percentage sailing’.
If in these conditions you elect, instead to 'minimum-time' sail, and let the backs and veers run their course and tack on the nodes, you may well sail a shorter path to the mark and finish further ahead. This is the technique of the ocean racer. But if you are sailing around the buoys and do not have the luxury of being able to wait forever for the next back or veer, and the wind direction does not behave as you expect, you may well finish further behind.
Skill in percentage sailing the fleet is no defense against minimum-time sailing, split fleets, nor on downwind legs.
Percentage sailing will fail as soon as the wind shifts become regular.