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The 210 second challenge

Two hundred and ten seconds.  That is the amount of time, on average, that separates us from Top Gun.  To come up with this figure, I reviewed the elapsed time in every race in 2018, leaving off the nights with blunders, or when we fell into a big hole. I don’t know about you, but 210 seconds was sounding like quite a lot until I did some thinking.  And after that thinking, I think I know where we can find 210 seconds on the race course.

Downwind:  I think we’re already as fast as Top Gun.  We are getting faster all the time, and our maneuvers will get more crisp with practice.  But I don’t think this is our major opportunity.

Upwind: This is where the opportunity lies. On an average race, we spend 36 minutes sailing upwind.  This means we need to find 9% improvement in our upwind sailing to draw even with Top Gun.  As we saw in the raceQs podcast, we can either sail faster or sail less distance.  I’m going to focus on sailing less distance.

  1. Pointing (100 seconds).  By pointing just 3 degrees higher, we’ll sail 5% less distance.  That’s half our goal right there!  How?
    • Clear air
    • More backstay
    • Trim and steer for “Go-Gear”
  2. Use the wind shifts (100 seconds).  We saw examples in the raceQs podcast where one boat sailed 10% less distance than another just by tacking on the headers.  Maybe that was an extreme case, but on average, it might be half as much: another 5%!
  3. Get a good start (10 seconds).  Sometimes we nail the start, but other times we are quite a bit late.  On average, I think we can get another 10 seconds from this.

So, with these improvements, we should be giving Top Gun a consistent run for their money!!! Winter series, anyone?

Incidentally, I applied the same analysis to our other common rivals.  On average, we are 90 seconds slower than Remarkable, 30 seconds faster than Sandpiper, and 60 seconds faster than Battlewagon.  Time to move up the fleet 🙂

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