July 22, 2013

Sailing in the Middle of the Fleet - What to do With Clean Air

By Doug
So, you've got clean air off the starting line... what's next? We'll look to see if there are clues about which side of the course is favored. This will depend on where you are sailing, and there is good news.

The top sailors tend to sail in open water where the top events are held. Most events for middle-of-the-fleet sailors are on lakes where there are lots of clues because the wind is not as steady. And the less wind you have, the more clues you'll see because the wind has less momentum and changes direction and strength more often.

In the last post, we looked how the good sailors starting at the favored end of the line can get trapped going the wrong way. But middle-of-the-fleet sailors who get clean air are more likely to be able to tack when they want. Consider a pin-favored start but where there is better wind in the middle or on the right.

Pin favored, but wind on the right... many good sailors will miss this.
In this example, middle-of-the-fleet sailors have a great opportunity to have the line bias clear the unfavored end of the line. This permits them to get a good start at the committee boat, get clean air right away by tacking, and head for the dark patches. Many boats at the pin will be unable to do this and will go the wrong way for enough time to negate their pin-favored start.

In these conditions, the golden rule is to stay in the pressure where there is more wind. I'd rather be conservative, go for clean air, and then head for the pressure knowing that sailing in pressure in light air is more important than on being a lift. It's pretty simple: dark patches = more wind = more speed. For me in these conditions, wind strength is more important than wind direction or line bias.

Here's a more interesting example where the patterns show exactly where the pressure is. If it's pin favored, this wind pattern might be wasted because very few in that group will be able to tack. 

I'd much rather start where I'm able to tack. Here's why. Look at the wind as an obstacle course - where do I need to go to avoid the dead patches and stay in the wind?

Planning the route is simply connecting the dots, and the first dot is off to the right so I'll need to tack ASAP.

In this extreme example, four tacks keeps me continuously in the pressure. I'd much rather have the chance to do this at the committee boat end of the line than risk being trapped going the wrong way at the more favored pin end of the line. Only clean air and a more conservative start will give you the chance to do this. Advantage to middle-of-the-fleet sailors!

Split Vote for Oman

by Pam
I’ve been on the fence about going with Doug to the Laser Master Worlds in Oman in November. My bucket list has a lot of places I’d like to visit. Oman has not been one of them. In fact, when they announced the location I had to look it up and do some research and we even had a guest post about all the things to do and see in Oman. It sounded interesting. I was intrigued and leaning towards going.

Then we heard about MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) which is causing concern with a 50% mortality rate and I was back on the fence. Then Doug pointed out the lead story on CNN this weekend about a Norwegian woman who was jailed in Dubai for reporting a rape. It’s the most backwards story I’ve ever read and just to make sure tourists know it isn’t an isolated incident, they say it also happened to two British women and an Australian woman. And Dubai is supposed to be one of the more progressive Middle Eastern countries!  I’m just not feeling the love for that part of the world.

Of course, I would have been traveling with Doug which isn’t comforting because he has a really odd sense of humor which some people don’t get. When I ask him to hold my purse so I can look at something in a clothes store, he gladly takes it and when I take it back, he feigns shock and loudly tells anyone nearby ‘that woman just stole my purse.’ Now how’s something like that going to go over in Oman? Heck, I don’t even have the same last name as Doug. We just didn’t bother with rings, name changes, or merging anything. I’d have a hard time proving I’m not a single woman and I don’t even know if they’d let us stay in the same hotel room.

Doug thinks it’s all quite backwards and pointed out a comment on the news post that said: No Arab country that has these types of laws should ever get world events. That means no Expo for Dubai, no world soccer, no Olympics. Nothing. They want to stay this backwards, they can forgo modern world recognition.

So, I remind him that in the United States former slaves were given the right to vote 50 years before women were. In Texas, in my lifetime, “women were considered affirmatively retarded” and a married women was classified with “infants, idiots and felons” and “could not buy or sell their own property, sign contracts, make decisions for their children, control their own paychecks, or open their own bank accounts, until Louise Raggio changed all that in 1967.

So, the Middle East isn’t really all that backwards, but I live in the US and I don’t have a need to experience being anything but treated as an equal. I definitely won’t miss the Master Worlds in France in 2014 and Canada in 2015.

July 09, 2013

Sailing in the Middle of the Fleet - Using the Unfavored End

By Doug
Getting back to thoughts about sailing in the middle of the fleet, we looked at getting clean air at the start, doing circles before the start, and judging whether the pin or a person is behind or ahead. In doing this, we can see which end of the starting line is favored and which end is not.

If the line is square, there is usually a crowd near the committee boat. If it's boat favored, there will definitely be a crowd there. If it's pin favored, then the pin will be crowded. Rarely will the boats be evenly spread along this line. In most cases, boats will be drawn towards the favored end of the line as though pulled there by a magnet.

Most sailors put too much emphasis on which end is favored. For example, if it's pin favored, they start there and often end up going left in a group. Tacking on a shift or into better pressure is often a group decision, and many good sailors get trapped going the wrong way. The closer they are to the pin, the more dependent they are on others tacking before they can. The sailor who wins at the pin can sometimes tack and cross the fleet, but this is risky and rarely will more than one be able to do this. Definitely a low percentage option.

I personally do not like starting at the pin because there are lots of sailors who are more skilled there than me, and there are few options unless I get a really good start. Why waste a good race with a bad start? I'd much rather be more conservative, go for clean air, play the shifts, and use boatspeed. For me, this is a much higher percentage option.

And this is where middle-of-the-fleet sailors actually have an advantage. If they start at the unfavored end of the line and get clear air, they do not have the problem of getting trapped. So, if it's pin favored, start near the committee boat or in the middle of the line.

The same is true if it looks like the crowd will be at the committee boat end - there will be places further down the line where there will be clear air. But remember that your tacking options are not as good there because the boats starting at the committee boat will block your chances of tacking onto port tack.

So next time you see a line that's really favored at one end, be grateful because it will pull the good sailors off to one side and clear the way for you to have good start and clean air.

July 05, 2013

Prediction: The America's Cup Will Be Won By... Take II

By Doug
I wrote a post predicting that the America's Cup could be won "not by the fastest or by the smartest, but by the country that does not fall over." With the Cup competition about to start, here's another example of how (very) slow but steady can win a race.

The announcers make jokes in this, but I feel that it shows the true Olympic spirit - how competitors from every country are encouraged to compete, even if they have no chance of winning a medal.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...