Bill Brangiforte WOW: Juan Delgado

Posted November 13, 2011

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Thanks to Scott- for the use of the boat and to the Barrington RC, for sticking it out in some tough conditions.
  8. 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!

Bill



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