12/26/2022 2:43 pm
WL-Dec 2022 Venezuela Interlibre
Fabiola Sabedra 23/11/2022
The Venezuelan Sabrina Hernández hung the gold medal on Wednesday after finishing her participation in the sunfish of the I Central American and Caribbean Games of Sea and Beach.
Kudos to the Fastest Sunfish Sailors in the West...
12/26/2022 2:38 pm
AYC’s first-ever Dinghy Days was held at Lake Pleasant last weekend, where it also served as the venue for the US Sunfish Class Association (USSCA) West Regional. We had 11-Sunfish competing, skippered by some of the fastest Sunfish sailors in the west. San Diego sailors Les Piehl and Larry Schmitz have sailed with us at Lake Pleasant in the past - and took 1st and 2nd Place respectively. Les barely had time to unpack his bags from his recent trip to the Sunfish World Championship in Lake Garda, Italy! Jim Irwin returned to Lake Pleasant from Michigan, taking home Third Place. Continued
WOW - Brangiforte: 2009 Spring Frostbiting
12/23/2022 6:44 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: 2009 Spring Frostbiting
What a great day; Certainly didn't feel like frostbiting weather.
I was going to write about all the tactical implications involved with sailing in a randomly shifting breeze, like we had on sunday, but then realized I would be simply quoting Stuart Walker. I am a big fan of Walker, and if you read his articles about sailing in category 3 conditions, you would see how useful his ideas are in these conditions.
Instead, I am going to talk about tell tales. Many of the top guys in the sunfish class say tell tales are useless on this boat. I disagree! Without tell tales, I might as well sail blind folded. In shifty conditions, upwind, tell tales are the key to boat speed.
Watching the leeward tale is the key! When the leeward tale starts to lift, the sail is becoming stalled. The leeward tales lifts because you are getting lifted or the breeze has increased. The key to going fast when this happens, is to do the following, in order:
- Ease the sail to reastablish flow
- Wait until the tales flowing straight back
- Begin to head up
- Trim back in tight. (Whatever that is for the conditions)
When you do this right, the boat responds very well. It will let you by excellerating nicely. When you do it wrong, the boats goes sideways. This technique is fairly easy, but takes practice.
All in all, I think it was a good season of frostbiting (dispite the lousy fall weather).
Big congrats to Andy! Not only did he sail the most races, but he was the most consistant, by far! Nice job!
We also cant thank the race committee enough! These folks sat thru all those cold days and never complained! Great job guys!
As Eric said, lets get everyone out to some summer regattas (and show off what we learned this winter)
WOW - Brangiforte: 2009 Barrington Regional
12/23/2022 6:43 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: 2009 Barrington Regional
Well, we certainly had some interesting conditions this past weekend! While we had mostly light air, we also had two races with some of the best surfing conditions in years! As usual, there were several lessons to be learned. Here are some of my thoughts on dealing with the varying conditions.
- Upwind in light air - I'm trying to keep my weight further forward( next to the board) and steer with the tiller behind me on the deck- The college kids call this frying eggs style, because you hold the tiller ext. like a skillet. This locks the rudder in the middle and you steer with your weight. Its is real fast, but tough on your sheeting arm, because you dont get a rest by grabbing the sheet with your tiller hand.
- Upwind in heavy air- I'm also trying to keep my weight more forward. The boat is wider forward ( should help with leverage) and it allows the boat to point higher. You have to be careful with this though. It is necessary to be very aggressive with your upper body to keep the bow out of the waves. As you come into a wave, you must throw your shoulders back and steer up into the wave. I'm trying a new longer tiller ext. (about 42'') to help push the bow up to meet the wave. It is very important to keep your arms up as high as possible in these conditions. You must be able to hold the tiller up high , so you can push it way to leeward to get the boat up to meet the wave. The sheeting arm must be up high as well, so you can ease alot of sheet in a gust, without leaning in. Unfortunately, this is hard on your arms and shoulders. Some upper body strength and flexibility training would help alot with this.
- Downwind in light air- two important points- keep looking back to stay in the most pressure and sail angles instead of going dead downwind! Sailing hot angles when the wind got light probably won the regatta for me.
- Downwind in heavy air- Sailing angles was also the key! Sailing dead downwind causes the bow to bury( wicked slow). Many times I never jibed on the runs , but constantly transitioned from a broad reach to by the lee. The key is to make your transitions while going thru waves. For example, if you are on a broad reach and suddenly see a low spot to leeward in the wave in front of you- bear off hard and go by the lee to get thru it. The tell tales will reverse direction and the boat will accelerate, instead of stopping. Not only is this real fast- it is really fun when you get it right!
As always, thanks to everyone at Barrington Y. C. for another weekend of great racing!
WOW- Brangiforte: Random Thoughts on 2010 Season
12/23/2022 6:41 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: Random Thoughts on the 2010 Season
Frostbiting is a great way to improve your skills. Karen Renzulli pointed out, after a close day of racing at Wequaquet, that it always seems like the frostbite fleet people end up at the top of the regattas. There is a reason for this, and I’m going discuss this throughout this article. (You will be sick of hearing me talk about this) The way to make the most out of frostbiting is to work on your weaknesses, and focus on doing the important things well, while you are out there, instead of thinking about results.
Concentrating on doing the important things well, instead of results is probably the single best way to improve your racing. I used to get nervous before big events, and ended up not focusing on the key components of the race. Doug Kaukeinen and I discussed this at the Masters. We both admitted to being nervous at the 2008 O’Days. As a result, neither of us sailed to our potential. I certainly wish I could do that event over!
No matter how much preparation (or lack of) you put in for a championship, once you are there, relax and enjoy the event. When I arrived at Mattituck, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to make it through the first day, but I was enjoying seeing old friends and was determined to have a good time no matter what. Having a relaxed mind frame seems to allow for better concentration, on the race course, and thus better results.
On the First Day of a Major Regatta
One of my biggest problems, in the past, has been having a bad first day and then being mentally out of the series after that. Someone said “You can’t win the regatta on the first day, but you can certainly can lose it” With this in mind, I set a goal of being in good shape (striking range of the leaders) while not taking too many chances. Here are 10 ways of doing this:
- Until you are sure there is an advantage to one side, start near the middle of the line. A line site is very helpful here. I have found that traditional line sites are not that useful in big fleets, because boats at the pin are often over early and block your site. A better approach is to site from the transom of the committee boat. This will give you a “safety site” and a good reference of where you are on the line, and when to pull the trigger.
- Always tack back after you gain on boats to weather. When their bows start to point towards you, tack and consolidate your gain. This especially true right after the start, but generally works for the rest of the race as well.
- Cross boats when you can.
- Don’t let a big pack of boats cross you- tack ahead and to leeward of them.
- When you find yourself heading close to a lay line, start looking for any excuse to get back towards the middle- any small header will do. I like to use more pressure, as it gets you back in faster.
- If you are heading towards the middle, don’t tack until the boats to leeward tack.
- Avoid the lay lines, but in big fleets, once you are close to the weather mark, try to over stand slightly. There are often big groups of slow moving boats pinching to get around the mark. By slightly overstanding, you can maintain your speed and make a fast transition to downwind.
- Downwind- avoid other boats and concentrate on going fast
- Give a lot of thought to leeward mark roundings. In big fleets, they are almost as important as starts
- In frostbite or college racing, they say “ keep your thirds”. This means anytime you are in the top three, sail defensively and protect your position. This is true in big fleets as well. If you are in the top 10 percent of the fleet, don’t take too many risks. Chances are, that 8th place on the first day will be really helpful going into the last day!
On Going Upwind
My speed in moderate conditions was really good this year, but in extreme conditions (really light and very windy) I am slow. Here are some thoughts on trying to improve in these conditions.
- In really light conditions- pressure is king. You need to be patient (I’m not) and really focus on finding and getting into breeze. Two of the best at this are Mark May and Paul Forester. They will stand up in their boats and focus all of their concentration on looking upwind and finding more pressure. I can’t count how many times I thought Mark was in trouble, only to see him cross the fleet in tons pressure. The only problem with this; you must be careful with rule 42. While standing up, stay very still or someone could accuse you of rocking.
- Heavy air is another story! I think the problem is that we just don’t get enough chance to sail in big breeze. I know my technique is bad. I would love to go to a clinic where some heavy air guys (P. J. or Eduardo) could coach us. The problem with this is that it is hard to plan a day when it is going to be windy. I think the key is aggressive depowering (upper body work), but until someone actually watches and critiques you, it is hard to be sure what you are doing wrong. No matter what, some time in the gym can’t hurt.
On Going Downwind
Just when I thought I was getting good at surfing waves, I got hosed by many of the juniors at the N.A.s with much better technique. There are many articles and videos on s-curving, but the best way to improve is to practice your top turns and bottom turns. Unfortunately, we don’t always have good waves around here to practice on. With a S.W. breeze, we do get waves at Barrington, even on the river, and it would be great to have this happen more in the winter.
Not only is Wave riding one of the most fun parts of sailing, but with good technique, the best way to make up a lot of ground. I hope we can practice this during the upcoming frostbite season.
In lighter conditions, again, pressure is king! I am constantly looking back at the breeze and sailing towards it. I tend to sail some crazy angles to get into better breeze. I actually think the sunfish likes to be sailed at hot angles in light air. You can go by the lee or broad reach if it takes you into more breeze. Be careful of sailing by the lee on port though- it is better to jibe and reach on starboard. If a pack of boats on one side of the course are coming on hard, they have more pressure and you want to get in front of them. Even if it seems that they will blanket you, I have learned from frostbiting, that this is still a high percentage move.
Ok- I did the dumbest thing I’ve done in a race in a long time. On the 5th race of the N.A.s., We were sailing a triangle (have not done much reaching lately). On the first reach, Mark May was 1st, I was 2nd and a very aggressive junior was third. He kept trying to pass us to windward, and Mark and I kept telling him to cool it, so we could stay ahead of the rest of the pack. He had no interest in listening to us old guys! After rounding the jibe mark, he immediately went high. Mark started yelling and went high with him to defend. I wanted no part of this and started to go low. At first it seemed to be working. What I didn’t realize was that the wind was going hard right. When I got to the bottom of the reach, I suddenly realized I couldn’t make the mark! I had to sail past it, and then tack to starboard just to get back to it! So, at this point, I’m heading upwind on starboard towards the mark, while hoards of boats are reaching towards it on port. My hails of starboard just got me lots of “WTF Bill”. The lesson here is – if the reach is tight, go high!
The best sailing advice I read this year was a WOW from Peter Shope. He talked about how he has to fight basic laziness before the start. Instead of simply sailing back and forth before the start, keep your head into the game. Get line sites, keep checking the line, find the laylines for the boat and pin, check the current, keep looking upwind , to pick a side, etc. All of these things will greatly improve your chances for a good start, and get you into that all important first shift before most of the fleet.
I’m still not good at getting the boat up to speed after parking on the line, and this something I really want to work on while frostbiting. I do have some theories on this though.
- The boat would rather accelerate from a close reaching position than a close hauled position. So, if you can get the bow down in the seconds before the gun, then sheet in- it starts tracking faster.
- The longer the boat has been sitting (stalled), the harder it is to get it going again. Lately, I have been doing more port tack approaches, thus avoiding sitting on line for a long time.
This is something we should talk to Amanda about. She obviously must coach her kids on accelerating out of a start since their courses are so short. Andy is also very good at this and it is a big reason for his success at frostbiting. Whether it is a college race or a world championship, with mile long weather legs, being able to punch out at start is great skill to have.
After years of not using an outhaul, I’ve really taken a liking of my new outhaul system. It is a 6-1 system, led around the mast- back to the centerboard handle. With 7/64’’ spectron line and silicone spray, it has almost no friction and is easy to adjust anytime.
I like making marks, on the spars, for sail settings. This makes it easier to replicate settings that were fast on previous occasions.
Although I am a big fan of keeping weight and windage to a minimum, I now really like using 2 wind indicators; one at the top of the rig for downwind, and one on the lower part of upper spar for upwind. The lower one works with your telltales to help pick up small shifts. I think this combo has really improved my light air speed; just don’t fixate on it and forget to keep looking around.
I still like my floating tack Cunningham system, even if no one else does. The only problem with it is that it could use a little more range (Throw) for heavy air.
Although I haven’t used it yet, I really want to try the newest version of the Gust Adjust (another thing to work on this winter). Eric seems to have it mastered and will be glad to explain how to rig it, if you ask him.
ON BEING FORTUNATE
Despite coming down with tendonitis at the worlds, I was able to compete for the rest of the summer because all of the events were sailed in light to moderate conditions. One heavy air day at the N.A.s would have done me in.
The race committee at Mattituck sent us in on postponement one day because of incoming thunder storms. At the beach, as I lowered my sail, I found my halyard was hanging on by a thread at the mast cleat. I was thus able to change it out. It would never have made it through the afternoon races.
One of the races at the N. A.s, where I was behind my closest competitors was abandoned. Another one, where I was ahead of them, was shortened.
John S would have won the regionals at Wequaquet if he was not OCS in the third race.
I owe much to Gisele, my sister Rene and my mom for their unconditional support!
ON THE SUNFISH CLASS
It is such a joy, racing this boat. Not only do we have great masters to compete against, but now we have a strong contingent of juniors as well. I think half of the top ten at the N.A. s were juniors. Boy, are these kids good! Speaking of juniors, I think the best experience of the summer was working with the kids at Wequaquet. We need to do more of this (even if it means they will be beating us soon)! Most importantly, I truly think of the sunfish community as family and I hope to be doing this for a long time.
WOW - Brangiforte December 2010
12/23/2022 6:39 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: December 2010
With the fall frostbite season now over, I thought it would be a good idea to review some lessons learned. The biggest thing that comes to mind for me is the effects of current. While tide plays a huge role on the Warren River, we sometimes play it blindly and get into trouble by ignoring the other important elements of the race. One day, Scott, Andy and I Short tacked up the Barrington side of the river, only to be passed by most of the fleet sailing into the teeth of the current, because they had better pressure. Since current also plays a huge role at many championship venues, such as Hyannis, Lewes and Charleston, let’s take a look at some current basics and some of my theories.
When sailing in a tidal area, start to plan your strategy on the way out to the starting line. Check the buoys and lobster pots on the way out. While every venue if different, there are some basic “truths” about sailing in current. Some of the basic current ” truths” are:
- The current is strongest in the middle of the cycle. During, approximately, the middle 2 hours of the cycle, current deserves a lot of attention. When it is really ripping, it may be the most important part of your plan.
- When the tide is adverse or going right to left upwind, avoid the pin end of the starting line. A few years back, while sailing a laser N.A.s in Hyannis, the tide was ripping down the line, (the com. Boat was pointing at the pin). Despite the fact that the fleet was highly skilled, almost everyone set up early and ended up being pushed toward the pin. When the gun went off, 60-70 boats were in a terrible mess at the leeward end. It took literally minutes for the dust to settle. By then, the few boats that started at the com. Boat were long gone! BTW, this is one of the times that it might be ok to try a barging start, as the tide pushes boats away from the com. Boat.
- When the tide is favorable or running left to right, avoid the boat end. This situation usually causes pile –ups at the boat end. Never try to barge in these conditions.
- When the tide is adverse upwind, the waves will probably be smaller, but the leg will take longer to sail. Get ready to hike for a longer period. When you approach the weather mark, try to overstand slightly (sometimes more than slightly). Remember- the Sunfish has a long boom, and it is attracted to marks!
- When the tide is with you, the waves will be bigger, but the leg will not take as long to sail. From a tactical standpoint, you can consider tacking below starboard tackers on the layline, as the favorable current will push you up to the mark, just remember, you must tack outside of 3 boatlengths or you could risk a foul. In Barrington, with the tide ripping from behind, you can tack below a group on the layline, then luff and slow everyone down enough to allow the tide to lift you to the mark (again, outside of 3 lengths).
- When the tide is flowing from one side, upwind, you will get a lift when as it pushes from leeward. This helps when planning your final approach to the weather mark.
Ok- here are some of my theories on sailing the Sunfish in current.
Upwind, when going against a strong tide, you should keep the bow down a little, to help the blades grip better. The leeward tell tale may need to be flowing for this to work. If you try to pinch, the boat is going to get slow and go sideways.
Downwind, the same is true. You need to keep the telltales flowing, by sailing angles. In light air, if you try to sail dead down against a strong tide the boat just stops. The lighter the breeze, the more severe the angles have to be. The good thing here is that in decent breeze, there are usually good waves, because the tide is against the breeze. This makes sailing angles even more effective.
Getting back to what I said in the beginning, there are times when the current takes a back seat to shifts and pressure. At the early and late stages of the tidal cycle, keep the tide in mind, but I still think the difference in the breeze across the course is more important.
With winter coming on, just a couple more thoughts.
First, I want to thank Barrington Y.C. for being out there in such cold conditions, running races for us and then providing such great hospitality after the races.
Second, I think this fleet has a lot of potential. Not only do we have some of the best Sunfish sailors in the country racing, if we are able to get Amanda, Colin, Tim and Karen racing at the same time, this will be one tough fleet! There is a good chance our fleet could dominate the N.As next year! (Yes, that is a challenge to everyone else!).
Third, I want to thank The Sunfish class members who initiated my nomination for the YOY. It is a true honor!
Merry Christmas to everyone!
Can’t wait till spring!
WOW- Brangiforte - Fitness, aging and Sunfish Racing
12/23/2022 6:37 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: Fitness, Aging and Sunfish Racing
Although I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, this year I made one. I wanted to do everything possible to prepare for the North Americans in Barrington. I decided this preparation would include three things: On the water training, fitness training and education. Since it would be two months before we would be sailing again, I decided to focus on the last two first. For this WOW, I want to discuss some learning experiences on fitness. The other two are subjects for future WOWs.
After dealing with endless snowstorms in January, I finally started working out in Feb. One week later, I broke my shoulder. I was really bummed out, realizing it would be months before I could get in the gym or sail. However, as in other occurrences in life, when something bad happens, there is often something good that comes from it. In this case, the silver lining was an education on staying in shape while getting older. After pouting for awhile and letting the shoulder heal, I decided to try some physical therapy. The P.T. guys were great (one was a sailor) and set up a program to get me back on the water ASAP. I also read a great book by Former Laser world champion Michael Blackburn, called Sail Fitter. This is a summary of what I learned.
The most important muscles used in singlehanded sailing are the quads (front of leg), core (abs and lower back) and biceps. The lower quads are the main muscle supporting the body when hiking. These can be strengthened by standard gym exercises like leg extensions, lunges and squats (instead of me trying to explain any exercises, it would be best to go to YouTube and see the proper form.) For more sailing specific work, make a hiking bench or try my new favorite- sitting on a balance ball while locking your feet under a weight rack. After your toes are locked under the rack, slide back on your hamstrings and do crunches- this is the best sailing exercise ever, since it works your core at the same time.
Another great exercise for the legs is bike riding. Not only is bike riding great for your legs, it is even better for your cardiovascular system. We all know how important that is, particularly as we get older, but you would be surprised how much it helps your sailing. Having good cardio endurance helps keep your head in the game during a long race, or back to back races. Gisele talked me into getting a spinning bike this winter. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but I have come to really enjoy it. We get the DVDs that have 30 and 45 minute classes, and thanks to my competitiveness, I try very hard to keep up with the instructors in the videos. Of course, any kind of cardio work, such as running, biking, or the use of Elliptical machines, will improve your stamina, and thus your sailing.
Ok, now comes the warning! Any time you are working a muscle, like the quads, you must work the muscle on the other side of the body. In this case, the hamstring must get equal work. If you do not work the antagonist muscle, you will get a muscle imbalance. This is really bad, particularly for us older folks. You can do hamstring work by doing leg curls- either with a machine or balance ball.
Core work is easy and kind of fun. There are lots of ways to work the core and if you go to google, you see hundreds of examples. Again, make sure you work the lower back to oppose the abs. Having a strong core is very fast in moderate air, as it helps you to drive the boat through the waves and flatten it in the puffs.
The biceps, and particularly, the brachialis are the main sheeting muscles. These muscles can be strengthened by doing a bicep exercise called hammer curls. Be careful to balance bicep work with triceps work as well. The triceps can be worked with machines, free weights or even push-ups. My P.T. guys had me doing a lot of triceps work, since I also tore a biceps tendon, and they wanted me to strengthen the opposing muscle. I think working the triceps is really good for sailing, since it helps with steering upwind in waves.
Since I have so many problems with my arms (tendonitis in both elbows and a torn biceps tendon) they wanted me to learn a new way of sheeting. They wanted me to try sheeting underhand. I tried this and it just doesn’t work. They also had me doing a lot of upper back work, so that I would incorporate the lats into sheeting. This helped a little, but more importantly, had another affect. By strengthening your upper back, you improve your posture. Having good posture is fast! If you ask a top Laser how to go faster in breeze, he will tell you” it’s easy- just drop your shoulders”. In order to do this, you must have good posture. Another time when it is fast is in 5-10 kts, when you keep your shoulders outside of your butt , to keep the boat on a steady heel (more on this tech. in a later WOW) Posture improving exercises include – Lat pull downs, rows, and, most importantly, scapular abductions. I plan on doing these a lot from now on, as my posture is still bad.
Two other good exercises to help the aging sailor are wrist curls, using a wrist roller (I made one using a 1.25” dowel, an old Cunningham line and a 3lb. weight) and anything involving shoulder stabilization movements. The wrist roller strengthens the forearms, which helps with sheeting and helps prevent tennis elbow. The shoulder stabilization exercises also help with sheeting and rapid trimming at the leeward mark. More importantly, doing stabilization exercises helps prevent injury to our aging shoulders. I have noticed a trend in shoulder work; it seems like knowledgeable coaches and trainers are having their athletes doing more stabilization work and less bench and military presses- since these muscles are more for show, than actual work! I recently read Finn sailor Zach Railey does lots of stabilization work to improve his sheeting skills. If a big strong kid like Zach does them, it certainly encourages me to do the same.
I know this seems like a lot of stuff to do, especially with our busy lives. The way I justify it, is that it makes a real difference! It makes you a faster sailor, helps prevent injury, helps with daily activities, helps keep the doctor away and even makes you look better. It is really a good investment in time!
Here are some tips to getting in workouts:
When I was preparing for the N.A.s, I was pressed for time, but determined to be in the best possible shape, so I set up the following plan:
- There would be no time to go to the gym- all workouts would be at home.
- Knowing that the spinning classes involved both leg work and Cardio; this was my first priority. I would do at least three classes a week. If there was extra time at night, I would do a 45 min. class, if it was busy night, I would sneak in a 30 min. class
- Two other nights a week I would do core work. One of these nights, I would ad Upper body (Shoulder stab. And arm work) on the other night, I would do legs. Each workout would take 30-40 mins. This routine allows plenty of rest between workouts, to allow the shoulders and legs time to recover.
While it is fun to go to the gym, all of the exercises mentioned here can be done at home. The best piece of equipment (next to the bike) is a stability ball. These balls are inexpensive and allow you to do dozens of challenging exercises. With the ball, a few light dumbbells, and a homemade wrist roller, you can do every exercise needed to strengthen your body for sailing. The best part is that it can all be done, in a short time, while watching TV or listening to music. Just be sure to start off easy and use light weights, particularly on shoulder exercises.
One final note, although I don’t want to sound like your mother, proper nutrition goes a long way when trying to stay healthy. Clean proteins, good complex carbs, such as oatmeal, and lots of fruits and veggies help you recover faster after exercise and fuel your muscles for the next workout. Personally, I find that the day after a leg work out, I can’t get enough food into me. While some foods may work better for some people than others, it is really worth taking nutrition into consideration, as it has a big affect on your health, and fitness.
WOW- Bill Brangiforte Juan Delgado
12/23/2022 6:36 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: Juan Delgado
We were lucky to have Juan Delgado sail with us on this windy day. For the last five years, Juan has been one of the fastest Sunfish sailors in the world; his lowest finish in a World championship was 6th! I thought it would be a good idea to write up some lessons learned, after sailing with him and asking lots of questions. Although Juan only weighs 150 lbs., he is incredibly fast in breeze. Here are some of his thoughts.
- In any condition over 10 kts- use a Jens rig. He feels this opens the leech, making the sail more efficient, helps pointing, helps depowering, and makes sheeting easier. The easier sheeting is something I never thought of! This is particularly useful during a long day on the water, or a long week of heavy air sailing (such as a world championship). With the sheet being easier to control, depowering thru puffs requires less effort. This is particularly important late in the weather leg, when your arms are really fatigued. This is a really good reason to learn and use the new Jens rig set up!
- He hikes hard(easier said than done) and sheets properly. By this, I mean he keeps his shoulders outside of his butt and keeps his sheeting arm up high. This technique allows almost 3 feet of sheet to be let out in a gust, without leaning in- SUPER FAST! While sailing next to him, I realized, as I got tired, I would start to lean in and my sheeting arm would straighten out. This poor form causes me to lean in even more to let out the sheet- SUPER SLOW!
- His fitness routine involves a lot of upper body work, including rows, upper back and shoulder work, and bicep curls. This is going to be one of my main fitness goals during the winter. Strengthening the upper back also helps with posture, which helps maintain that shoulder-out position that is so fast in many conditions!
- When tacking, Juan likes to sheet in hard just before the tack. He feels this makes the boat head up better and keeps the sail fuller longer. He claims that when this is done properly , the boat makes great vmg to weather!
- Downwind, he never eases the sail more than 90 degrees to the hull, even when sailing by the Lee. He feels that, because of the open leech of the sail, most people go slower by easing past 90 degrees. He actually thinks it should not go past 85 degrees in most conditions.
- With a strong SW breeze and outgoing tide we had great surfing conditions Sunday. Juan and I had fun playing waves and s-curving down the river. He (like me) thinks the sunfish should be sailed downwind on angles , almost all the time. He likes to take waves, off his leeward bow, and surf hard by the lee. Another thing we agreed on , was that , in any breeze over about 17 kts, the boat should be planing or surfing almost nonstop. If the boat isn’t planing or surfing, or the bow is going under waves- heat it up to a reach, or go by the lee.
- Thanks to Scott- for the use of the boat and to the Barrington RC, for sticking it out in some tough conditions.
- One final thought- it would be nice if we could put together a boat for quests. This would introduce newcomers to the fleet and allow visitors, such as Juan to sail with us.
See everyone Sunday. I’m cooking this week!
WOW - Bill Brangiforte WOW: For December 18
12/23/2022 6:35 pm
Bill Brangiforte WOW: For December 18
With Andy, Scott and I virtually tied going into the last race (Back to the Dock), and ice forming on our decks, it was a fitting end to the Fall series. The ice cold Northerly we were racing in did two things: It froze our fingers (somebody has to make some gloves that actually keep your hands warm without being too bulky) and caused an extremely shifty breeze. I would like to discuss this breeze and mention a few other thoughts.
The northerly breeze is always shifty in any part of Narraganset Bay because it has to travel other land before it hits us. The narrow Warren River exaggerates this effect. Sunday’s breeze was even shiftier because it was so cold! When the air is colder than the water, as is typical in winter, it becomes very unstable and leads to big shifts and differences in pressure. You can tell when you are dealing with this unstable condition by looking at objects far away over water. If they appear to be floating above the water, it is going to be extra shifty! I knew sailing out that, playing this breeze properly was going to be the key factor to success and would be more important than the current. Here are some ways to handle these unstable conditions:
- Constantly look upwind for clues. The shifts and puffs were fairly easy to see Sunday because the sun was behind us while going upwind. I find it almost more important in winter conditions to wear good sunglasses, because the sun is low in the sky and adds to the glare that makes reading puffs more difficult. This is particularly important when the breeze is out of the South. With the wind out of the North, however, the shifts and puffs really stood out as they approached!
- In general, Standard oscillating shift strategy, such as staying on the lifted tack, not letting boats cross, crossing when you can, and tacking back after a gain on boats to windward is the right move, but there is more to it than that.
- Because the shifts and velocity changes are so drastic , you must use good fleet positioning to maintain consistency. Fortunately for us, racing in 10-15 boat fleets, on short courses, is a perfect way to practice fleet positioning! Here are some examples of percentage positioning moves: If you are to windward of most of the fleet and sailing in a lift- put the bow down to close the lateral distance on the boats to leeward. That way, when the next header arrives, they will not gain as much. If you are ahead and to leeward of most the fleet, and you see a lift coming, try to point as high as you can; again that will keep some of the lateral distance down, and the windward boats won’t gain as much. If 1 or 2 boats are crossing you in better pressure, don’t tack until you are in their breeze, or they will roll you. In this case, it may be better to duck and sail into the better breeze. When you are sailing one of those giant lifts, with lots of pressure, get a shore bearing before you start going up. In many cases Sunday, you would get a 30-40 degree shift. However, once the pressure dropped off, you would go back down 20 degrees. In this case, you would still be 20 degrees above the shore bearing and should keep going. Almost everyone got this wrong at one time or another Sunday! If you are to windward of most of the fleet and are heading back towards the middle of the course- Don’t tack until the boats to leeward tack! This tactic works 90% of the time and is a classic example of proper fleet positioning! If it gets light and fluky at the weather mark and you see a big puff coming in on one side, don’t be afraid to sail above the layline , to get to it faster. Bob Perry did this in one race and passed most of the fleet right at the mark!
- Another place where we are lucky to get lots of practice is at leeward mark roundings. In Sunday’s shifty breeze, it was essential to be able to hold your lane, after the bottom mark, if the wind was in a left phase. In the 4th race, I rounded too close to Dave, and began to fall into his bad air. I should have hung in there and waited for the next righty, before tacking. Instead, I tacked out of phase and into much less pressure, only to lose most of the fleet. After the race, Coach Callahan asked me what I was thinking when I did that! I wasn’t thinking- I was just being impatient and not using good fleet positioning!
- A couple of thoughts on dealing with the current- When sailing up the river against the tide, don’t play the Warren side. Andy and I did this , and we got hammered! Anytime you let the boat get slow or stalled, the tide punishes you. If ever there is a time for good tacks- this is it. Actually, try to minimize tacks, if possible. Keep the boat on an even heel (the butt in , shoulder out technique is perfect in these conditions). In Sundays conditions- staying on the lifted tack and in better pressure was almost always more important than playing the tide!
- I certainly want to thank Frank, Sally, Joel, Leo and rest of the wonderful staff at Barrington Y.C. for a great fall series! Barrington Y.C. feels like my second home , and frostbiting has become one of my favorite things!
- Happy Holidays to everyone! See you in March!