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Tips for improving fleet finish positions...?

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MattTrinder View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 7:51am
Hi All

Having bought a Buzz just under a year ago, me and a friend have been club racing since then, with fairly consistent results (last on handicap all the time!).  Our technique has definitly improved as when we we started we were finishing last on the water all the time as well, we now fairly consistently finish mid fleet somewhere, to be nobbled by the Buzz's 1003 handicap.

We are in a mixed fleet of Solos, Lightnings, Lasers, Supernovas etc, with the general level of sailing experience much higher than ours (we have some class champions out against us most weeks)

I'd describe us as reasonably competent racers, we can generally hit the start line in the pack etc. 

What sort of things do you think we should be looking at to improve our performances ?  I think we are past the stage of there being a single "big win" improvement, but any suggestions for small gains we can make would be very welcome!

Cheers

Matt

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alstorer View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote alstorer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 8:36am

Race in clear air- in handicap racing, you don't want to be going boat-on-boat at all, espeially off the line.

Watch for heavily biased finish lines- throw in an extra tack to get yourself across the finishline sooner rather than sailing along the line.
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Do Different View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Do Different Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 9:20am
Sounds like you're up against it, well sailed mono sail single handers who don't make mistakes are hard to beat in a two man three sailer. 

I had a Buzz at sea and we could do ok but only IF we had a chance to get the kite working, that's the Buzz's big weapon. We took a long while to hold our own upwind, has to dead flat and don't let yourself slip too far aft and drag the transom. All the newer ones had full length toe straps and putting them in my old one helped me helm and hike much further forward.  
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fab100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 9:59am
I've PM'd you Matt
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MattTrinder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 10:04am
Originally posted by Do Different

Sounds like you're up against it, well sailed mono sail single handers who don't make mistakes are hard to beat in a two man three sailer. 

I had a Buzz at sea and we could do ok but only IF we had a chance to get the kite working, that's the Buzz's big weapon. We took a long while to hold our own upwind, has to dead flat and don't let yourself slip too far aft and drag the transom. All the newer ones had full length toe straps and putting them in my old one helped me helm and hike much further forward.  


Exactly the problem - too many people who have been sailing for 30 years...!

We are on a smallish irregular shaped inland lake, and have picked up on the that the kite helps us a lot. Unfortunatly all our races are round the cans, so whether there are any useful kite runs is entirely dependent on the wind direction.

We do have the crew toestraps in, and have recent converted to off-the-boom sheeting, meaning the helm (we take it in turns) can sit, tack and gybe a lot further forward as well, which does seem to have helped.  I know it's not class legal but I can't see anyone protesting, at least not until we start winning perhaps...!

Thanks for the thoughts so far...

Matt

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JimC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 10:40am
By the sounds of things the biggest problem is that you are sailing the wrong boat for your venue. You're sailing an open water boat at a confined water club. If you have no remotely similar boats to line up against then its going to be very difficult for you to judge whether you are sailing the boat well or not.

The best ((and normal) way of doing so is to sail at a few class open events: even a couple a year is enough to give you a guide as to whether you are doing it right or wrong. If you know you are in the middle of your class fleet then that's a confidence builder - and evidence to your club as to whether the allocated hanficap might usefully be varied. However there probably aren't any Buzz events within easy reach for you any more.

Don't think there are any easy answers I'm afraid. All you can do is to set yourself targets. You ought at least to be able to beat most of those other boats on the water, so that's your first major target. Forget handicap results for now. Learning to sail the right angles on the deep legs will make a big change too.

Edited by JimC - 15 Jun 12 at 10:41am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MattTrinder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 12:57pm
Originally posted by JimC

By the sounds of things the biggest problem is that you are sailing the wrong boat for your venue. You're sailing an open water boat at a confined water club. If you have no remotely similar boats to line up against then its going to be very difficult for you to judge whether you are sailing the boat well or not.

The best ((and normal) way of doing so is to sail at a few class open events: even a couple a year is enough to give you a guide as to whether you are doing it right or wrong. If you know you are in the middle of your class fleet then that's a confidence builder - and evidence to your club as to whether the allocated hanficap might usefully be varied. However there probably aren't any Buzz events within easy reach for you any more.

Don't think there are any easy answers I'm afraid. All you can do is to set yourself targets. You ought at least to be able to beat most of those other boats on the water, so that's your first major target. Forget handicap results for now. Learning to sail the right angles on the deep legs will make a big change too.


Thanks Jim

Yep, we're aware that the Buzz is not the ideal boat for our situation, unfortunately price and families preclude changing it for anything else at the moment.

The Buzz inlands are about an hour from us this year so it's tempting to go and have a go at them - although I'd have to put the boat back to class legal to do so :-)

Where should we be heading on the downwind legs ? I'm assuming there is a "sweet spot" between heading low and losing speed, and heading up so far that the kite just starts dragging sideways ?

Cheers

Matt

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rupert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 1:10pm
The main thing when heading downwind on a small lake is that the shorter the distance you sail, the better - screaming off on a reach and back may be fast over the water, but kills on vmg - the Solo running down beats you to the mark... So, once you have air flowing over the assy, and the apparant wind starts to kick in, bear away - go as low as you can without the sail collapsing. Here is where good helm-crew communication comes in. The crew will be able to feel the reduction in drive from the kite through the sheets before it collapses. As soon as he does, the helm needs to head up to re attach the flow. Heeling the boat to windward a little can also expose more kite area to clear wind as you bear away, as well as helping reduce the rudder movements, which can be a speed killer.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 1:33pm
Not sure I altogether agree Rupert: nothing is quite so slow as sailing too deep. Dead runs are the slowest point of sailing on any boat you care to name: yes, even Solos. Its always quicker to sail just a tad higher and do the run in two reaches, but whether those two reaches should be 10 degrees off a run or 50 degrees off a run is the big issue.
The trouble for asymmetric sailors on a small pond is that its all too easy to get the run hideously wrong by going the wrong side of a shift and missing the gusts too, and somehow it seems far easier to lose a hundred yards than to gain it.
One tip I would add is that if the choice is between more wind and a better shift, more wind usually wins. Another is to always sail towards the middle of a gust because you will be headed by wind fanning out from the gust (being headed is *good* when gybing downwind).
But yes, the communication is key. If I'm sailing forward hand on an RS400 I usually hold the sheet in two fingers only when running until its very breezy.
Unfortunately its very difficult to learn the angles to sail if you are the only boat of your class. You need someobne else sailing a different angle to compare with.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rupert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 12 at 1:39pm
Wasn't suggesting running in the Buzz - that is impossible, pretty much, without everything collapsing round your ears - just don't go blasting off on a reach - chances are, if it is fun, it is slow! And just hope that they set lots of nice reaches at the exact angle which is best for your spinnaker in the conditions...


Edited by Rupert - 15 Jun 12 at 1:42pm
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