2019 Bacardi Cup - Boomslang

Today was day one in a charter boat, and the last day before racing starts, so the priority was on dialing in the setup, shaking down the rigging, and ensuring that the team was ready to go for racing tomorrow. The following debrief hits on a few key points for performance this week, but also incorporates some ideas for longer term technique development.

Settings Progression

What was the settings progression throughout the day?

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Thoughts on lowers: The wires pull from just under the spreaders, well above the vang, making this largely a lateral mast bend tool more than a fore/aft mast bend tool. See Mast Tip photos above.

General setup thoughts: Setup progression went well - as you got the rig dialed things started looking balanced, and the boat seemed to respond well in the pressure. I think that the three main places to make gains at this stage are in getting the jib shape to be more twisty to match the main, making the main more twisty if you need a bow down mode in the chop, and in getting the weight more involved both upwind and downwind. By pressing your weight more when the boat enters puffs upwind and downwind, you’ll help it accelerate, build apparent, and help Geoff not have to steer as much.

Local Knowledge

Rule of thumb: From the northerly direction, if the wind is left of the city, left is likely strong due to convergence off of the shoreline. If wind is right of the city, fairly open race course - know your angles, and win your side. The following video is pretty rambling, but Auggie Diaz is probably one of the best sources of local knowledge in Miami.

Around 3:00 he talks about the direction that we will likely see tomorrow.

Around 7:00 he talks about the direction that we saw today.

From a velocity standpoint, the GFS model is usually the most reliable in Miami. Looking like 10-15 tomorrow and possibly Friday.

Who will call tactics?

Downwind Thoughts

As we got down the course into more breeze, weight movement got better, and speed seemed good. I think that in general, being more active with weight will allow you to steer less, and build more apparent wind, even in the moderate wind strengths.

Nail your vang mark downwind. Important to look at leech dynamics - you want the battens to flick one after another - not all together as a hinge (too tight on vang) and not totally unrelated to each other (too loose on vang).

Shorten tack line knot?

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Gybing: Work on gybing more rudderlessly. The following photos are a really good example of what often went wrong in the gybes. Initially, the heel in the entry was really good, but then half way through the gybe, everyone starts crossing and boat heels to the old leeward side before sails have crossed, meaning the rudder has to work harder to turn the boat and the boat slows down a lot. Key is either speeding up the turn slightly, or slowing down weight movement. Turn has to be in sync with sails, which cross fairly slowly, so it’s likely that the answer is to keep weight up on the old side longer.

USVI December Training

Hey guys,

Thanks for hosting me this week! I had a great time working with you all, and hope to get to do it again soon. I’m going to keep the written portion short here because of my hand, but below you’ll find a playlist of videos from this week (thanks Florencia!), a playlist of good light air videos to compare to from the SoCal sailors, and a debrief from the last two days that i have recorded. If you have any questions please let me know. Hope to see you all soon!

Best,

Willie


This Week’s Playlist

SoCal Playlist

Cherry Bomb Harbor 20 Debrief

Hey Jane, Tom and Mom,

Nice work on Saturday - that was quite a long session, but I felt like we covered a lot of ground, and improved a lot on all of the drills we worked on. I wanted to send you a quick, written debrief to recap what we talked about and to give a few suggestions for where to go from here.

Hope this helps, and looking forward to getting in the boat with all of you again.

Best,

Willie

Pre Start

The first thing we talked about this weekend was pre-start routine. Every good race starts with a little bit of research. Go out there, check out the line, check out the wind, check the current, and make a game plan. Here is a checklist that we go through before every single start (and you should too!):

  1. Take a wind shot to check wind direction - Jane steers head-to-wind and calls it, while Karen and Tom look at the compass.

  2. Check current at inboard end and outboard end to determine if one side of the course has favorable current.

  3. Run the line to get line heading, then do geometry math (+/-90 degrees) to find out which end of the line is favored.

  4. Do three practice starts to judge how far from the line you can be at 30-40 seconds (how much distance will you cover in 30-40 seconds including a tack.

  5. Decide if the wind is a thermal (direction around 235, hot in Ojai, “sea breeze”, likely clear sky with some exceptions), or a gradient wind (not the thermal, and not a Santa Anna). If it is a thermal, seriously consider going right on the first beat, and then gybe-setting around the top mark.

Feel free to text me on Wednesday (I’ll try to remember to text you) about the conditions for the day - happy to give my thoughts on which side of the course will likely pay.

Starting Ideas

Starting is all about judging time and distance and learning your options for controlling each. We did a lot of boat control drills and starting drills this weekend to practice slowing the boat, and timing your final approach. While this isn’t the final product that you need to learn to nail the starts, it’s a great start (no pun intended), and if you practice judging the time distance, you’ll get better and better at it. Jane, remember that you have 2 options to slow the boat - a “speed check” where you put the bow above close hauled and let the boat slow, or a big duck down below a beam reach to sail extra distance. I tend to try to do the speed check early, and the duck later (closer to “go”) so that you don’t accidentally get too slow right before the gun.  This takes a lot of practice, and even more practice to be able to execute well next to the competition without fouling, but what we worked on was 70% of the challenge. Two big things to keep in mind are:

  1. Always try to be on port tack one minute before the start, and tack to starboard around 50 seconds. Try to position yourself 40 seconds from the line so that you have 10 seconds of wiggle room “to kill”.

  2. When in doubt, bail out and try to start on port!

Downwind Tactics

This is a topic that you mentioned having questions about Jane, but one which we didn’t really get into. While it’s a very broad topic, the most important thing for you to understand is the basic downwind tactical building block of asymmetric racing - the jump. Here’s a technical article that I wrote about this play a while ago, and there’s a more digestible version in the book I wrote on tactics if you scroll down to play DW3.1. There’s a lot more info there if you’re inclined to read about it. I would stick to 3.1 as well as the downwind strategy portions at first as most of this is very high level.

Overall Team Philosophy

I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but the number one thing that I would stress for you guys as a team, is that all parts of your racing should be able to fit into a nice, neat process. Tom talked a bit about Kent and my interactions onboard when we sailed the Centennial Cup - calm and objective. This comes from both knowing our roles around the race course, in everything from decision making to boat handling. We’ve developed this from lots of racing obviously, but to expedite the learning curve, you might consider going through the exercise of building out a “boat handling playbook” (see template below), wherein each person’s role gets defined for each maneuver.

This is not intended to be a tool for placing blame, but a learning tool to help everyone remember what they’re working on - remember, there are a lot of pieces to memorize in a good system so mastering it will take time! In other words, when (not if) things don’t go according to plan, go back to the document and remind yourself of the system that you’re working on building. Next time we get a chance to go out again with the four of us, my top priority would be spending some time working on this boat handling playbook to ensure that everyone is doing their roles in to each maneuver

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