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What I’m learning from the Olympic sailing

Not much coverage on the networks, but you can watch complete races online, courtesy of  Here are some things I’m learning:

  1. Don’t paint the corners.  Swedish laser went all the way to the layline before tacking.  First lap it worked beautifully.  Second lap she got knocked severely with 10 boat-lengths to the windward mark.  Cost her the race.  To do this, we have to get even better at tacking, since sailing up the middle of the course means putting in extra tacks.  Crisply done, we can tack without losing significant distance — a worthwhile trade-off against an unfavourable knock.
  2. Heat and burn downwind.  The little boats are steering and trimming constantly downwind.  They head upwind, accelerate, steer downwind, decelerate, and repeat EVERY TEN SECONDS.  I think that means we should do it every minute.  That means the guy is always active in the downwind leg:  head up (pole foreward, trim sheet, gain speed), then head down (pole aft, ease sheet, gain VMG), repeat.  That would mean that the guy isn’t cleated:  its got  several wraps on the winch and a handle ready.
  3. Watch your boat widths.  Roundings are won and lost by closing the door on others at the windward mark.  Getting into this position (often by a boat-width) routinely translates into several boat-lengths of head start on the next leg, and most importantly — clear air!  As a result, one boat width can turn into ten boat lengths of a lead by the next mark.  To do this, we have to plan our approach to the windward mark before we get to the layline, probably one tack beforehand to position correctly for advantage at the mark.


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