December 12, 2013

Robert Scheidt at the Oman Worlds

By Doug
On the final day of competition, everyone was kept onshore as there was less than the 5 knots needed to start a race. Robert had a one-point lead over Pavlos Kontides but looked relaxed as he hung out with other members of the Brazilian team. I thought our blog readers would be interested to learn from him, so I asked if I could take some pictures and have him explain his rigging and strategy.

He started by saying his setup was pretty simple. He was one of the last to switch from the old vang to the new vang, and had taken one of the loops out because the new vang is too powerful. The result is a 10:1 rather than a 15:1. You'll see that there were some markings on the vang rope.

The rest of his rigging looked like any other boat:

Looking at Robert's setup, it's clear that it's not the boat.

Robert does not sail with a compass and has not since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, which apparently did not allow them. He did say that there were times in Oman when he missed having one because the windward legs were sailed towards the open water and there were no land references.

I asked what he's looking for when he stands up 2 minutes before the start. He usually does this from the leeward end of the line but I saw him once planing down the line on port standing on the transom with the tiller between his legs. He explained that he likes to plan the first 2-3 minutes of the race and then starts accordingly. He added that in light air as we had in Oman, starting in the middle of the line is risky because if anything goes wrong, there's no escape.

After the awards ceremony, I bumped into him as he was heading back to the hotel with an armful of trophies. I told him that a lot of people were happy that he had won. He responded in his usual gracious way, "You brought me good luck."

I assured him that it was not me and it was not luck.


  1. I never suspected for one minute that Robert's continued success had much to do with the manner in which his boat is set up, but it's reassuring to note that he keeps everything nice and simple, a great philosophy to follow. KISS

    1. Yes, and if not for the change in the vang (and of course sponsor sticker, sail number and country) you could not tell Robert's boat from any other.

  2. Hyde or North?

    What was the distribution among the Senior World sailors?

    1. This I did not check, but the conversations I heard seemed to prefer Hyde.

      The big change in the sails was almost everyone had brought rolled sails which are supposed to be faster than folded sails in lighter conditions. After everyone had gone home, there were lots and lots of abandoned sail tubes as people did not want to pay extra shipping for their now used sails on the way home.

  3. Thanks for posting Doug, interesting that he is still looking at the horizon rather than other boats to judge shifts. Many of the top guys these guys seem to spend most of their time looking at the other boats to judge relative angles, but it sounds like he is still a compass sailor (i.e. interested in his own heading, at least as a starting point) at heart.

    Compasses seem to have a bad rap these days but I still think a compass is the quickest way to judge what's going on with my boat. Ideally this then gets compared with what I can see across the rest of the fleet, but of unfortunately ideals are often aspirations rather than reality!

    1. You're welcome.

      I took Robert's comment as something that would have been occasionally useful in addition to reading the conditions and angles. Stories from other sailors indicate that he read the conditions better than anyone else.

      One problem with a compass is that it's misleading at the top of the beat because the last shift, by definition, is always persistent.


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