To complement Taylor’s Tip of the Week “Transitioning into New Boats,” we asked the trimmer of US One Sailing Team, Dan Morris, to chime in on how he adapts to a new boat as a trimmer while racing on the World Match Racing Tour.
Match racing brings us to so many different venues with different boats. You may sail a different type of boat at every event on your schedule, but as the trimmer your objective is always the same… speed. Getting the most out of one boat often requires a different approach, technique, or setup. Two boats may appear very similar above the waterline and even have similar rigs, but will still perform differently in the same conditions.
Getting the most out of the boat requires an understanding of what is happening below the waterline. The shape and size of the hull, keel and rudder play a major role in how a boat performs. Here are some of the things to consider when stepping into a new boat.
Boats with fuller bows need to be sailed fatter due to how much water the bow pushes. Anticipate keeping the jib leads outboard. Sailing in a high mode in a boat like this is very costly and should only be considered in short term or emergency scenarios.
The shape and size of the foils are critical to sheeting angles upwind. High aspect foils are much more efficient (Less drag for the same amount of lift), allowing a tighter sheeting angle and the ability to sail in a higher mode upwind. The downside to high aspect foils is that they lose flow easily and take longer to establish good flow. Low aspect foils will never be able to sail in as high of a mode as the high aspect foils, but staying in the groove will be much easier.
Finally, consider the keel bulb. How heavy is it? How deep is it? A heavy bulb on a deep fin creates a very stiff boat with a lot of righting moment. More righting moment allows for a much harder sheet. You can really load up the boat, and because the extra righting moment keeps the boat flatter; the foils continue to work efficiently without excessive leeway. In contrast, the boat with less righting moment will need to be sailed with softer sheets and more twist to keep the boat on her feet. Kinetics will be even more useful in this boat as well. With less righting moment, the boat can be rolled with ease to steer and accelerate through maneuvers in lighter air.
Sail as many boats as possible. Keep track of what worked in each boat, and be flexible to trying new approaches in new boats.
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Some words of wisdom from Tuesday’s practice by intern Walker Banks…
Practice today at the Chicago Match Race Center; on the 18th of June was simple yet, very effective. We had wind conditions averaging about 21 kts with gusts of around 24. Six boats worth of people showed up to practice and it was clear that a round robin was the way to go in terms of efficiency. Once on the water, things shifted around a bit and each boat had one other pair for entirety of practice. With a short course leading to a lot of pre starts, Tod Reynolds was umpiring the races. Kite work was difficult and with four foot swells, the Tom 28′s were a fun ride. Once in, we diverged into a short debrief mainly about boat handling, but also a few pre-start tactics.
After a few discussions on rules and calls made by Tod; Sailing Director Taylor canfield discussed how to handle the Tom’s in big breeze. Expressing that on a short course like the one we had at practice, leaving the jib up is not only smarter and less work, but also does not affect the kite in 20 its plus. There were a few calls discussed, most were widely agreed upon. However, there was one call involving a dial up during one of the pre starts that resulted in a green flag. As the boats came together for a dial up the boat on port slipped past the boat on starboard by diving underneath. Tod; acting as the umpire, stated that the boat on starboard never held course and did not have to avoid the boat on port, resulting in the previously mentioned green flag. After much discussion, it was realized that umpire perspective was different than that of the sailors.
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Part two of Taylor’s tip from last week informing us of how to best transition into a new boat!
In General Things to think about when transitioning into a new boat:
1. Importance of Kinetics
2. Rate of Acceleration
3. Speed and Angle Differential in different wind velocities
What we do when getting into a new boat:
1. Boat Handling:
We like to focus on boat handling first and sort out all of the basic maneuvers performed around the course after the start ie. Set, gybe set, spin drops on both gybes, tacks, gybes, penalty turns, etc. This can be done by simply doing laps around a windward leeward course.
2. Pre-start Acceleration, Timing, and Maneuvers:
After boat handling is ironed out, we take it back down to the start area and focus on any maneuver you would ever think to do in a pre-start, how long each maneuver takes, and how long it takes to get back up to full speed after the maneuver. This may include, circles, dial-ups and exits out of them, laylines/timed runs to the line, etc.
3. Full Pre-starts and Races:
This allows us to compile all of our practice of course boat handling and pre-start maneuvers into one. Being able to perform these actions on your own is one thing, but being able to perform them with another boat in the picture is completely different.