Bill Brangiforte WOW: From the 2012 International Masters

Posted March 01, 2012

It appears that all those Sunday afternoons, freezing our butts off, on the Warren River, is really paying off. Eric Woodman and I just returned from the Sunfish International Masters in Florida, where we finished first and second. Eric finished 10 points ahead of third place finisher Donnie Martinborough, a three-time world champion. Since we were the only two sailors there (out of 57) who frostbite, there is certainly something to be said about the training we get out of the Barrington frostbite series. Let me explain some of my thoughts on this. The mental preparation needed to win a championship is basically the same as
winning a Sunday afternoon on the river. The more we do this preparation, the more it becomes second nature. For example, we casually rig our boats and discuss rigging options every Sunday, so rushing to get a chartered boat together is much less stressful. Doing so in the warm weather also seems to be almost too easy!

One of the greatest ways to succeed in our sport is to have a plan based on data accumulated before the start. Frostbiting has trained me to get this data on the brief sail out to the course, and the really brief period between races. Using this same approach, after rigging our boats on Thurs. afternoon, we went out to do some testing. In a brief period of time, we came up with the following data points:

  1. There was a slight adverse current. It would not play a big role, but was something to consider at the start and when calling laylines.
  2. The wind built all day and even at 4:30 was still building. Good data pointBring hiking pants, heavier sheet, spray top, etc.
  3. The breeze was slowly, but persistently veering, especially late in the day. Big data point.
  4. Although the breeze was oscillating, the big puffs were righties, and they lasted longer than the lefties.

We came in a half hour later, tweaked a few things on the boats, and had a debriefing session. The plan was pretty obvious. Early in the day, stay right of center, but play the shifts. Late in the day – Be prepared for good breeze, start on the right and play the right hard. This plan worked very well, and at the end of the first day, we were in really good shape.

A couple more thoughts:
Eric won the boat at probably 5 out of 6 starts. He claimed starting against Andy and Scott every week was actually harder than starting at the Masters. I think 40 - 50 starts every season makes you much more confident in your starting technique.

While we were enjoying the nice weather, and seeing old friends, Eric maintained a calm, businesslike approach to the regatta. This is the proper mindset to have at an event like this.

On the flight down to Florida, I decided, at the starts, I would use port tack approaches, and look for a nice hole to tack into. I knew there would be a wide range of talent at this event, and there would be “Marshmallows” to start next to. This didn’t work out well, as the marshmallows proved to be very unpredictable. Perhaps this is part of the “Aged and treacherous “stuff Master sailors are famous

When it is hot, drink lots of water!

If the race committee uses the new “signal boat in the middle of the line” trick, don’t get anywhere near it! I started one race right behind it, and the propeller wash and stern wake were horribly slow!
It is really a good idea to brush up on signal flags and race committee procedures before a big event. I don’t think I have ever been to a major regatta, where there wasn’t a confusing call by the race committee. In this case, there were many, including a tricky Z-flag and postponement flag event. There are more to these rules than you think! The committee has the right to do many things, and this can adversely affect your results if you are not sure what to do!

While it was nice in Florida, I am looking forward getting out on the river this Sunday!

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