Words of Wisdom: Andy David on Bolton Lake Regatta 2013
Posted May 28, 2013
Bolton Lake - May 19, 2013 - Andy David
Having only sailed on Bolton Lake (a small lake in Connecticut) once, 10 years ago, I was not sure what to expect. Though, as I was rigging up, everyone told me that this place is known for some crazy shifts, and to never think that you have won or lost until you cross the finish line. Though I did take this to heart all the way until I finished the last race, I actually never saw the craziness play out this year. The shifty southerly was predictable from my perspective, and never went too hard in either direction, and never stayed to one side for too long. So, here is what I think were key to my day.
Protect the Middle - I really learned this frostbiting this year in many shifty northerlies. With breezes that are shifting multiple times on a leg, it is important to stay towards the middle so that you can take advantage of as many shifts as possible. If you go out to a corner seeing a big puff over there, you may actually get to it and get a big advantage half-way up the beat, only to see your leverage slowly disappear as those in the middle do multiple extra tacks and stay lifted for the remainder of the beat. I sailed up the middle every beat, except in the last race, but I will get to that later.
Don't Hesitate to Tack - The puffs coming down the course in general moved straight down and did not fan out. I realized early that you did not have to sail into the puff too much before getting the benefit. So, I would work my way to the puff, and just as I got there, tack and take the puff back to the middle. It was always important for me to know what was going on just on my hip, so I would know what it would look like when I tacked.
Sunglasses - Though it was cloudy out, I left my sunglasses on. I usually take them off, but I was actually wearing a pair that brightened things up. I took them off a few times between races, and I could not see the puffs as well.
Sail Heavy When Lifted - When you are on the lifted tack, there is a tendency to take it up as high as possible to get the biggest advantage. However, in a situation like we had, it should be expected that the next puff/shift will go the other direction. So I find that I sail heavy in a lift, and really look for speed to the next puff.
The Last Race - Going into Race 6, Bill and I were tied with a throwout. My throwout was a 4 and Bill's was a 7. So, to win, I needed to either beat Bill and/or ensure that he finished worst than 4th. There was nobody else that could win based on the math. Bill and I came off of the line about even, with him about 3 boats above me. The first shift went to the left, and I tacked and crossed him. I go back to my first point above, Protect the Middle. I set myself up so that I had a cover on Bill, but was closer to the middle than him, always wanting to move him to a corner. We did a whole bunch of tacks up the left side and rounded the windward mark 1, 2, with Drew Staniar right there with us. Drew got by Bill before the leeward mark, and going back upwind it was a similar story. I followed Bill to the left, always staying to the right of him. We gradually moved back in the fleet. Once I was confident that he was far enough to the corner, without any moves left. I moved back to the middle with enough boats in between us to feel safe for the rest of the race.
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