Last practice today. We’re going to work on starting practice and boat-handling. We’ll start with the starting practice, then do some boat handling, then return to the starting practice again.
The starting drill will be a starting line with a ~20′ section per boat. You’ll get assigned a section, and have to stay in it between 20 seconds and go without tacking. We’ll use a 2-minute starting sequence just to keep things rolling.
Our next drill will be the Bow up-bow down drill. Same start line. Three whistles means luff up hard and stop your boat, but be ready to bear away and accelerate. Two whistles means bear away and accelerate. Consider this to be about 15 seconds before the start, so you only have a few seconds to get up to full speed. Use all of the tools in your box to turn as well as to slow or accelerate your boat.
Once we get sick of this, we’ll do a little upwind sailing and practice tacks. The two keys for the tack are 1. not turning so hard you stop your boat (start the tack as if you were shooting the finish line or windward mark, and then continue past head to wind), and 2. coming out of the tack on a close hauled course.
Great breeze out there today. Should be fun on the water, and the temp is really nice too.
I’d like to set up some two-boat speed testing, we’ll pair up, and go upwind near each other, and see if we can identify items which are helping one boat or the other go faster/slower/higher/lower. Also will help us identify shifts. We’ll use a really long course, just so we can stay in one place. Then we’ll dissect and discuss on the way back downwind.
It’s important for these speed tests to set up near enough to the other boat that you get the same breeze, but not so near that you’re affecting each others’ breeze. You may have to adjust periodically or after tacks. Please communicate within your pair to be sure you’re both in the right spot.
See you at 6pm!
Alright, last practice of the season! Sad, but should be a good one. It’s looking like we’ll have a nice little easterly. I want to work on two drills that we’ve done before which can really be good in lighter wind. Also, a game I call Sumo Sailing. Let’s try to take off from and land on the L-dock.
We’ll begin with a quick follow the leader to gather everyone. Then, going up the river, we’ll do either tacking or gybing on the whistle. Upwind, 3 whistles starts the drill, and from there on means stop or start. 2 whistles – do a 360. 1 whistle is a tack. Feel free to skip a tack or do an extra in order to re-join the group.
Downwind, 3 whistles is stop/start, 2 is go from a reach to a run or a run to a reach, and 1 whistle is gybe. We really want to get good at the rolling aspects of the tacks, gybes, and going to a reach. Other learning goals are to make sure we come out of the tacks right at close hauled, to control our steering and our main through the gybe, and to adjust to wind-shifts on the reach or run.
Sumo sailing is a team drill, we do inside of a box course. The goal is to force the other team out using the ROW rules. I will blow a 3-minute start sequence and the game begins at go. The team entering on port can enter ten seconds early. I’ll describe this again on the dock. See you on the L-dock at 6pm.
We will be holding this practice next week, Tuesday July 31 at the same time. This will be the last practice on-water practice of the year due to JP coaching commitments. I’m sorry for the late notice as my timing predictions proved to be off yesterday and I cannot make it back from Marblehead in time.
If you are out sailing today, I suggest these two drills you can do solo:
- use a buoy on the water (or bring your own). Set a three minute timer while you are near the buoy, sail away for a full minute, and then spend two minutes returning to the buoy. Can you get it right on? Try from different directions. Can you get creative in slowing down, while still pointing generally towards the buoy? Use luffing, S-curves, rudder stall, and pinching to help you. If there’s a second boat, you can each choose a side of the buoy so there is some interaction (but you can still both get off the mark on time!)
- using the same buoy, try the “hold your spot” drill where we use the same slowing techniques to hold our bow on the buoy for a long time. In reality, the first drill will often end up being the second drill.
- bonus option: if there are three or more boats, try rabbit starts. You can do this with the rabbit blowing a few short whistles to say “get ready” and then 30-60 seconds later, a long blast saying “I’m coming”. Try to have the rabbit round within 15-20 seconds of the “I’m coming” whistle.
And of course you can always practice roll tacks and gybes with a crew-mate. Throw in some 360’s and 720’s for good measure.
Hi all, very excited for nice (not steady) breeze today. Per usual, let’s try to be dressed and rigging on the front of the dock at 6pm for a quick briefing. Everyone’s work in the past in this regard has been super helpful for our good race practices so far.
We will start with a blind-fold sailing drill. Rig, and get out past the worst of the traffic, and then sail out to our course area near the Harvard Boathouse with the skipper blind-folded. This will require the crew to do lots of communication and explaining where to sail, how to trim, etc. Please be prepared to remove your blindfold if necessary, and perhaps have a safe-word for the crew (“help” is pretty good). We’ll have a short windward/leeward course set up, and you can do a lap of that, and then rotate skipper and crew.
Our second drill will be rabbit starts. These consist of a countdown start near a leeward mark or “pin” buoy. The designated “rabbit” boat will round that buoy to port at about 15 seconds remaining, and begin sailing on close-hauled on port tack. Other boats can start on starboard tack between the pin and the rabbit. Note that the rabbit has right of way even though they are on port tack, and you will need to duck them in order to start. Please see this .gif for an animated example of a rabbit start: https://www.dropbox.com/s/68rhgm63w5pctnc/Rabbit%20Start%201.gif?dl=0
Lastly, we’ll do some pursuit races. I will set up a triangle course (we NEVER get to do those!) with a windward mark, a wing/gybe mark, and a leeward mark. We’ll do a follow the leader by ascending or descending sail number into the windward mark, and the goal is after rounding that mark to pass as many boats as possible. The race will go from the windward “start” to the wing, to the leeward, and finish back at the windward mark. This drill can force more experienced sailors to pick their way through the pack of the fleet, and give less experienced ones some time sailing towards the front or middle of the pack.
We do have one newly red-rated sailor who is just becoming a regular who is looking to crew only, so if someone wants some extra time at the helm, you can pair up with her. See you all at 6!