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!
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