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How to Sail? #146832
06/26/08 02:52 PM
06/26/08 02:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 548
MERRITTISLAND, FL
Matt M Offline OP
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Matt M  Offline OP
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MERRITTISLAND, FL
After criticizing Jake for trying to complicate his life, I am starting a new thread.

I would like to know what books or other media are out there that really discuss the anatomy of sailing. How do you sheet and or steer in a puff, how can you tell if your pinching or footing what should be the combination or sequence of moves to correctly shift gears in the puffs… Things like that.


Sometimes I feel forums like this provide a huge disservice to the new guy learning. There are loads of technical discussions which often have very good responses, but sometimes they have an equal amount of misinformation. The problem is though, they all relate to tuning and not technique of how you actually sail. So many people seem expect there to be a magic formula for how the boat is set up and they will be fast. How can you tell if you are sailing your boat to its potential? One of my mentors told me that rule number 1 in going up wind is that every other boat on the coarse is going to appear to be sailing 5 degrees higher and if you try to match them you will be going very slow – sail your own race. Very good advice, but how do I know what my race is?

I have lost count on the number of times I have seen someone in a race be 1 minute late for the start, get stuck in irons 3 times, flip over, miss every wind shift, sail to the wrong side of the course, and the first thing they ask when they get back in is; What mast rake is everyone using, because they just do not seem to be able to point. (I have been one of these people on occasion also, so I am guilty as well) I have talked to a number of sailing coaches about this, and everyone has said that when critiquing boat speed they are going to be commenting on things like; they were over sheeting or moving the sheet too much, or pinching, footing standing too far aft etc. If you are getting beat in 2 boat testing it is not because your diamonds were set at 39 in stead of 38.

Matt

-- Have You Seen This? --
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146833
06/26/08 03:09 PM
06/26/08 03:09 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 4,451
West coast of Norway
Rolf_Nilsen Offline
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West coast of Norway
"High Performance Sailing" have some good stuff for skiffs and general sailing, but not specifics for catamarans.
I have some books touching the subject in my bookshelf but I can not check the titles until the end of next week. I have not found a book covering this really well, and I would very much like to see one! I agree with your analysis that this is a largely uncovered subject.

Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146834
06/26/08 03:10 PM
06/26/08 03:10 PM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 26
Turks and Caicos Islands
R
rumsailsman Offline
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Turks and Caicos Islands
Hi Matt, a well written post that pretty much sums up my frustrations and shortcomings as a rookie sailor of 3 years or so sailing Hobie Waves. And now I am the "president" of our little sailing club. I used to spend countless hours sailing by myself thinking I was going as fast as I possibly could only to find on "race" days that my peers could always read the wind better and point better and shout out the rules better etc. I longed for a website or some such resource that could just get to the bottom of what I was trying to learn. Over time it has become a matter of experience on the water but again I know I am limiting my experience simply because I don't have access to other types of boats to sail or enough time racing against other boats.

The single-most focussed learning experience I have had, even though it was "passive" learning, was to sail in the Hobie Wave event in January 07 in Islamorada. Passive because, as usual, I was observing what everyone else was doing and trying to learn how, why, when what etc on my own while out there racing against them. A great rush but no substitute for getting some focussed instruction which I suppose is the only real answer.

I will be watching this post with much interest for any scrap of info that will accelerate my learning and therefore appreciation of the little boats in our little club. Not only for my sake but for the rookies who join our club and have the same questions that I don't have answers for. And, some day, I will graduate to a Nacra 5.0 or Hobie Max or even a Dart (something skeg hulled due to all of the shallows here) as the Waves have become fun only during Regattas or when it is blowing +15. Perhaps then again, if I learned more about these little boats, I would be able to up the fun factor.

Not that sailing in 10 knots isn't fun...beats the hell out of most things I can think of...


You sailin' or bailin'?
Re: How to Sail? [Re: rumsailsman] #146835
06/26/08 03:32 PM
06/26/08 03:32 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 149
T
TurboCat Offline
member
TurboCat  Offline
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T

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Posts: 149
Im very new to the sport and have found the Catamaran Sailing dvd to be the best instructional video out of my collection. (have them all)
You can buy it here at the store the item # is: 45-0012 DVD $60.95

Re: How to Sail? [Re: rumsailsman] #146836
06/26/08 03:55 PM
06/26/08 03:55 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,197
Vancouver, BC
Tornado Offline
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Tornado  Offline
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Vancouver, BC
For novices, I think the best book to get some theory in your head is Rick's Catamaran Sailing for the '90's. He also offers a series of videos (now on a DVD) with lots of the basics plus racing skills covered.

As previously mentioned "The Catamaran Sailing" DVD is an extremely well put together production...while it does cover lots of basics, it also has a lot of advanced skills/tactics. A novice might not get the most out of this for a few years.


Reading/watch vids or others sailing can only get you so far. Racing is an excellent way to measure your performance against like boats and to accelarate the learning curve by immediate on the water feedback on tuning changes and during before/after racing discussions with those more experienced.

Also try to get onboard as crew for a more experienced skipper.

Mike.


Mike Dobbs
Tornado CAN 99 "Full Tilt"
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146837
06/26/08 04:57 PM
06/26/08 04:57 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,147
Bay of Islands, NZ
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warbird Offline
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Bay of Islands, NZ
Quote

Sometimes I feel forums like this provide a huge disservice to the new guy learning. There are loads of technical discussions which often have very good responses, but sometimes they have an equal amount of misinformation.
Matt


The nature of a forum like this is that it is a discussion.
I have some sailing skills. I think about what I do on the water. I am very interested in how other people look at how they drive and trim and set up their boats.
I can pass some wisdom on and I can be wrong too. The point is we are here, we are willing to talk and it is not often that someone would purposefully misinform a newbie.

For the most part I am happy with every hint I have been given and I do not think by any means all of the ifo I have been given is correct but I thank everyone who has included me in their time and see all of my time here as useful to my sailing experience.

That is the nature of discussion, otherwise it would be a dictate.

Any disservice perceived from this forum is the responsibility of the person using it.

Re: How to Sail? [Re: warbird] #146838
06/26/08 05:10 PM
06/26/08 05:10 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 951
Brisbane, Queensland, Australi...
ncik Offline
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Posts: 951
Brisbane, Queensland, Australi...
Generally big boat and dinghy related, but still useful...
Speed and Smarts

Some interesting links here...
Coaching Tips

Re: How to Sail? [Re: Tornado] #146839
06/26/08 05:24 PM
06/26/08 05:24 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 320
Albuquerque NM
Banzilla Offline
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Banzilla  Offline
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Posts: 320
Albuquerque NM
Quote
Also try to get onboard as crew for a more experienced skipper.

Mike.


One of my biggest learning experiences was Fathers day weekend. I had a really good Crew(much better sailor than I) He was able to show me things just by me watching him work the sheets as I steered my boat. He even let me have the Main sheet for a while <img src="http://www.catsailor.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

different people will learn in different ways as well. Some by doing some by reading or watching.


Sail Like you have a Pair
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146840
06/26/08 07:03 PM
06/26/08 07:03 PM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,037
Central California
ejpoulsen Offline
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Central California
Quote
I have lost count on the number of times I have seen someone in a race be 1 minute late for the start, get stuck in irons 3 times, flip over, miss every wind shift, sail to the wrong side of the course, and the first thing they ask when they get back in is; What mast rake is everyone using, because they just do not seem to be able to point. (I have been one of these people on occasion also, so I am guilty as well) I have talked to a number of sailing coaches about this, and everyone has said that when critiquing boat speed they are going to be commenting on things like; they were over sheeting or moving the sheet too much, or pinching, footing standing too far aft etc. If you are getting beat in 2 boat testing it is not because your diamonds were set at 39 in stead of 38.


Matt,

You are so right about this.

Here is an excellent book that covers the sailing fundamentals in a very readable format with excellent photos and diagrams.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sailing/DK-Publishing/e/9780756626266

It is a perfect read for both beginning and intermediate sailors. It also offers a very healthy overview of all the different types of boats, from dinghies to cats to keelboats. It gets into techniques as detailed at trapping and righting after a capsize. It even discusses "wild thing." I would highly recommend it for anyone getting into the sport. I have an earlier edition and like to lend it out to anyone who I'm going to take sailing.


Eric Poulsen
A-class USA 203
Ultimate 20
Central California
Re: How to Sail? [Re: ejpoulsen] #146841
06/26/08 08:11 PM
06/26/08 08:11 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Seabrook, TX
DougSnell Offline
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DougSnell  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Seabrook, TX
Matt:

I have been sailing for 29 yrs and I found that "Catamaran Racing for the 90's" is the very best there is. I still learned something from it and past it on to grand daughter and son-in-law to read and learn from.

Doug

Re: How to Sail? [Re: ejpoulsen] #146842
06/26/08 08:30 PM
06/26/08 08:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 6,046
Sebring, Florida.
Timbo Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Timbo  Offline
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Sebring, Florida.
You can read a lot of books (and you should) but you cannot replace time on the water. Early in my sailing life, before racing, I was told by one old salt, "You should race, you will learn more about sailing in one year of racing than in 10 years of cruising." So I looked for a racing class, found a used boat, found out when they raced, then got my butt handed to me for about 3 years. And I read a lot of books, mostly by Stuart Walker, Dave Perry, Buddy Melges, even Ted Turner and Denis Connor (his "No Excuse to Lose" is a classic, if you haven't read it, find it, do it, now!). But I have learned the most from other sailors, after the racing is done, talking about it at the keg. I have found if you get a cold beer into the hands of the winner, first, he will tell you how he does it, especially if you are no threat to him, which I was not (and am still not).

One thing I have found out from them, get your head out of the boat. Look around the course before each start. What is the wind doing, and what is it going to do in the next 5, 10, 30 minutes? Is there any current? Is the line square? Where is A mark? Which tack will be favored at the gun?

They don't seem to worry about an inch of mast rake or rotation, or lbs. of diamond tension. They worry about getting the best start, on the right end of the line, going fast in the right direction with clear air.

Second to that, their boat handling skills are excellent. They almost never muff a snuff or blow a tack. That only comes with time on the water and the best sailors are usually the ones with the most time spent on the water.

Then comes boat preparation. The fast guys are not driving old, beat up boats with 5 year old sails. And they don't usually break down while out on the race course. This is all covered in most of the good sailing books, but you have to go to regattas to see it for yourself, up close, and if you have a question, get him a beer and ask... <img src="http://www.catsailor.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

And I really believe Garry Jobson nailed it when he said, "Sailboat races are not won, they are lost. Good moves don't win them, but bad moves will lose them." You have to make the least mistakes out there, consistantly, if you want to win, consistantly.


Blade F16
#777
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Timbo] #146843
06/26/08 10:06 PM
06/26/08 10:06 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,187
38.912, -95.37
_flatlander_ Offline
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38.912, -95.37
I'll chime in and say racing is exponential compared to reaching. The fourth trip to the lake with our brand new 16 was to a regatta, and I didn't go without first spouting off at least ten excuses why I shouldn't be racing yet. The reply (given with a blank stare) was "That's what we do..."

I checked out books on tactics from the library, and held close the comments of my brother-in-law, "One design racing is all about tactics!". He convinced me the difference in boat speed is very, very small compared to sailing technique.

Also, I never had a bridle fly in those first years, that kept my head out of the boat.


John H16, H14
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146844
06/27/08 12:16 AM
06/27/08 12:16 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 235
JJ_ Offline
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Whoooo, now here's a thread I've got a lot of unload in.

First, Phil Berman's book Catamaran Sailing was a good, basic read. I especially like the chapter on surfing with a sailboat! Not anytime soon...

The book was written in the 1982 and while some parts are dated, most of it is to the point and very clear.

Also got Rick's DVD on sailing, I found good for basics.

*************

However, I want to address what I call developing a navigator's brain.

Started thinking about this while talking with the wife, who is new to sailing, and we started talking about what were the differences between powerboating and sailing.

Knowing how to get a sailboat from point A to point B with the wind blowing from a particular angle is what I mean by a developing a sense for navigation with a sailboat.

For example, in a powerboat, if an island 1000 yards straight ahead is the destination, just turn the wheel, throttle up and stay off the sandbars (inland or sound waters).

However, in a sailboat, you do indeed have to get your head out of the boat first and consider the wind along the course. If you don't, you may never get there. And it's not just the wind, but the currents and other boats also.

For example, if sailing to point B with the wind coming from a 45 degree angle off the starboard bow, is the destination, sailing on a starboard tack to a point well to the left of the target and then tacking back and forth twice to finally land may be the best course.

Of course, the wind may vary. If I start out and the wind moves well around so that I am running, it gets much easier. If it moves around to head on, the whole plan has to change.

In addition, if indecision hits because the correct course was not anticipated, and as a result panic causes too quick a tack, getting stuck in irons is a real possibility.

Just very curious of the thinking that many of you use to plot courses before you hit the water.

Much of this is similar to what the books describe about docking a boat in various wind and current conditions. Most of the good books on sailing spend some time on maneuvers for using the currents and winds to land softly on the dock. It takes anticipation and planning.

All ears...

Last edited by jimbo633; 06/27/08 12:22 AM.
Re: How to Sail? [Re: JJ_] #146845
06/27/08 01:30 AM
06/27/08 01:30 AM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,584
+31NL
Tony_F18 Offline
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+31NL
I went to a seminar given by a pro catsailor last year and he recommended reading the North-U series of books..
They are not specifically about catsailing but they are written for the racing crowd.

Re: How to Sail? [Re: Timbo] #146846
06/27/08 07:02 AM
06/27/08 07:02 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 548
MERRITTISLAND, FL
Matt M Offline OP
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Matt M  Offline OP
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Posts: 548
MERRITTISLAND, FL
Quote
You can read a lot of books (and you should) but you cannot replace time on the water. Early in my sailing life, before racing, I was told by one old salt, "You should race, you will learn more about sailing in one year of racing than in 10 years of cruising."


EXACTLY, experience is the only real teacher.

The DVDs, Ricks books, and other mentioned are excellent refreshers for the newer sailor. For me at least, the points made in these only became clear after I happened to experience, in a bad way, their reason for being on the race course. Basic moves, some stratagy and sequences for manouvers tike tacks and jibes can all be found in these and are the basics for getting around the course.

The very good sailors sail by instict and drummed in repetition and do not spend any mental effort in handling their boat, they feel it and keep it moving. Just as in a tack, though, there are a sequence of events that they go through during every wind shift, puff etc, that makes them fast. The basic theory (advanced baot speed, I call it) of how to keep your boat going fast, I have never encountered. You can read about wind patterns, and tactics, sail shape, boat tuning, but....

Here's the scenario.

2 boats clear of eachother and identically rigged heading up wind. They both see a small puff heading their way. The less experience crew, when the puff hits has their hull fly up in the air, They then pay out a bunch of sheet, and/or round up to keep the boat in control and feel like they are pointing higher in the puff. When the excitement of the puff has passed, they realize that the more experienced crew is now gained 1 to 1 1/2 boat lengths on them and manged to clime another boat length higher, all while to the appearance of the less experienced crew, the other boat's crew did not appear to expend any effort, their boat stayed flat and ended up higher and faster.

It has nothing to due with tuning, but they went through a sequence of adjusting the sheet with good anticipation of the pressure, moved the tiller in sequence to gain speed with the pressure and likely subtlely ajusted their weight ballance along the way. Running fast down wind there is a like sequence. When do you move the tiller to ajust angles and when should the sails be trimmed to keep up the maximum boat speed. The books I have read all talk about angles and trim. There is a rythum when it is all working correctly. Some feel it naturally, others with a lot of practice. It has taken me years to be in the lot of practise group and I still have a very long way to go. There is no substitution to actually feeling it and no amount of reading will get you there, but some description of the sequence of steps and what things to look for to decide which control to adjust in what order would go a long way to accelerating a lot of peoeple's learning curve from just getting around the course safely, to actually going fast.

Matt

Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146847
06/27/08 07:09 AM
06/27/08 07:09 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 12,310
South Carolina
Jake Offline
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South Carolina
Well said.


Jake Kohl
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146848
06/27/08 07:47 AM
06/27/08 07:47 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 6,046
Sebring, Florida.
Timbo Offline
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I'm pretty sure in Rick's book, it is covered. When I crossed over to cats, the first thing I did was buy his book, and several others, to get up to speed on cat handling.

In your scenario, let's say you are both already on one hull, double trapped and then along comes the puff. The more experienced crew is going to see it coming and be ready for it.

As far as boat speed, as I uderstand it from the books, you don't want to "change" the boat's attitude through the water, as every change (expecially the tiller) is like putting on the breaks. So you want to keep the hull up the same height, (just kissing the wave tops), and keep your headding exactly the same (unless it's a lift or headder) so what needs to be done is anticipate the puff, ease the mainsheet enough (and-or pull on more downhaul) to keep the boat attitude in the water the same, trap harder, or what ever else you can do, to accelerate with the puff, and then trim the main back in as the puff goes by. It's all easier said than done but the more experience you have, the more instinctive it becomes, and you can keep your head out of the boat, looking for the next puff.

In your scenario (and we've all been there) the less experienced crew is reacting to the puff too late, they are losing lots of power from the puff by letting the hull fly up too high, pinching too much and then easing the main too much to get it under control, and slowing down instead of accelerating in the puff, they are looking inside the boat instead of outside.

But as we agreed earlier, the experienced crew handled it because they were -experienced-, saw it coming, reacted perfectly, ahead of time, instead of too late, etc. and little by little, the pulled ahead. At least that's what is supposed to happen.

In all the monohull books, (like Stuart Walker's Small Boat Handling Techniques) they tell you to steer with your sails, not your rudder, because every time you move that rudder, you are creating drag. I think the same holds true for cats. And as Alex Shafer told me 100 times (with one of his sneakers way up my butt...) "Don't PINCH!!!"

Last edited by Timbo; 06/27/08 07:51 AM.

Blade F16
#777
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Timbo] #146849
06/27/08 08:19 AM
06/27/08 08:19 AM

A
Anonymous
Unregistered
Anonymous
Unregistered
A



I know i am not answering any questions rased here but i just wanted to give my 2 cents.

Lots of good info on here...

Even though I am not officially a “racer” I have the mentality that EVERYTHING IS A RACE.. first one with the mast up... first one in the water, first one to the beach-bar, first one back to the causeway... catch me if you can... etc

I am VERY, VERY, LUCKY and get to sail 100 days a year, and I sail with some great guys. They have taught me allot, and sailing with them every weekend for the past few years has enabled me to learn a ton. The past 2 years I have really become a sailor (even though I started 30 years ago, and was in the US Navy)…

I am at the point where i have read a ton. I read books, read forums, talk to alot of people, watch a lot of people sail.

I think my next "Tool" for increasing my skills is a GPS so i can tweak my actions and increase speed. i.e. what moving 12 inches forward does to my speed... what is faster in a puff, sheeting out or pinching a hair, etc.

I was sailing in 20+ and my crew had a GPS. It was a blast. He was yelling out the speed and i liked the instant feedback of my actions.... BUT it was VERY distracting...

Last edited by andrewscott; 06/27/08 08:23 AM.
Re: How to Sail? [Re: Matt M] #146850
06/27/08 07:58 PM
06/27/08 07:58 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,459
Annapolis,MD
Keith Offline
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Keith  Offline
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Posts: 1,459
Annapolis,MD
Quote

The very good sailors sail by instinct and drummed in repetition and do not spend any mental effort in handling their boat, they feel it and keep it moving. Just as in a tack, though, there are a sequence of events that they go through during every wind shift, puff etc, that makes them fast. The basic theory (advanced baot speed, I call it) of how to keep your boat going fast, I have never encountered. You can read about wind patterns, and tactics, sail shape, boat tuning, but....



So how does one get there? Here's my take (not that I'm all that...).

The advice I've given to the new folk in our Fleet, and the approach I followed, takes more time rather than less. But here goes.

First off - take everything you read as a suggestion, not a hard fast rule. Think about the why's in what the article or person has said. Realize that there may be some things that make things a little different from your situation, and realize that authorities, as well loved and trusted as they may be, are sometimes just wrong. Learn to think about the suggestions, apply your thought process as to why it should or should not work, and work out what's right for you with experimentation. Then you know it because you know it, not because you can quote a tuning manual.

Secondly - Burn your skills into your brain over a series of seasons. Don't try to become the King in one season.

Make a little plan to concentrate on one skill per season while racing. For instance - season one - work on boat speed. Temper all your decisions in races with getting your boat going as fast as possible. For instance, if you think it might be better to dig deep slow for a mark, remember your goal and run hot with an extra jibe instead. Don't worry as much about getting the tactics just right, etc., just learn how to make your boat go fast. Next season, pick a new skill, maybe it's starts. The speed stuff is mostly burned in now, mostly habit, so concentrate on the new skill while paying less attention to the others. Next season, concentrate on getting your head out of the boat. Next season, tactics, and so on. Keep reading stuff, keep getting advice, but follow your season goal, and move to new goal for the next season. And, while you are doing this, give up on winning pickle dishes. The trophies are not your goal, learning your skill is. But you may find that with each season you take home more hardware anyway.

When you think you have it all down, realize that you may be full of poo and have more to learn. Figure out what the next thing is and learn it.

No book can teach you the "feel". If you found a book that perported to teach that, you'd never be able the process the checklists in your brain for each little twitter you experience. Get out and sail...

So, something to try if you have the time and patience.

One last thing. Look at your boat. Look at the shape of the hulls, the boards, the sail plan. These things all contain hints about how the boat will act while sailing.

Re: How to Sail? [Re: Keith] #146851
06/28/08 09:18 AM
06/28/08 09:18 AM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 270
Nepean (Ottawa) Ontario Canada
Frozen Offline
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Years ago when I raced windsurfers I used to finish middle of the pack. Then I went to a seminar with a pro. What a difference. I went to the front of the pack and stayed there. Not sure if Rick still does seminars but if he does I would suggest doing one.
Also I found my time on a sailboard was excellent because you can feel very intimately exactly what is going on with the sail and what the effect is of every move you make whether it be with the sail adjustments, mast position, your hand position, daggerboard adjustment, etc.
I am very busy sailing because I constantly tweak things adjusting for wind shifts etc. I also mentally map out the wind in an area because especially on lakes the winds shift according to the trees, hills buildings etc. around it.
From hang gliding I learned about micrometerology (Dennis Pagens books) and how sometimes winds flow around an obstruction and sometimes they pass over it. This is important as you can map out where you can expect doldrums or winds backing or veering.
Maybe it's just me but I find that following the pack is a bad idea. I make a plan and stick to it and spend my energy extracting every ounce out of the wind.


Cheers
Alan F

Tiger
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