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  #11  
Old 07-22-2013
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

Did you know that if you max out the rake on a Hobie 16 mast the boat will point at least 10 degrees higher? Most Hobie sailors don't know that either! racing teaches you how to get the max performance. Even if you are single handed you will talk to other sailors with more experience. You will feel the need for speed and you will find it by educating yourself.

Oh, and about max raking a Hobie 16 mast, it depowers the boat. On an ocean or open bay course, with winds at 15 gusting over 20, depowered is the way to go. A level Hobie is a fast Hobie! And, driving one to weather at a 10 degree higher or better course? That's a race winner!!!
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Old 07-22-2013
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Competent Racers are better sailors.

OP the others have given you a whole host of reasons on why racing can make you a better sailor. But, just because you race, doesn't mean you're a better sailor. I have been on may boats where the skipper is clueless on rules, trim, strategy, etc. Bad habits can pass on to others.

I was crew on a J-24 during a Frostbite series. The skipper was a world champion Sonar skipper. Only one other of his crew was a repeat crew member from the previous year, the rest of us were newbies at winter racing and the J-24 in general. One of our crew never did any type of real sailing. Each week we were assigned a different boat and sails, to rule out boat bias and maintain an even playing field.

We had approx. 50 races during the winter. We came in 1st or 2nd around 60% of the time out of 18 boats. Some it it was us, but most of it was the competent skipper.

Two occasions I remember about really knowing how to sail versus "sailing". One race's upwind leg, we were low of the mark. About 50 yards from the mark, I was mentally preparing to shift my weight for the tack. It was going to be very tight as we would be going to a port tack and then probably have to do some quick ducking into heavy traffic and then another tack back to starboard. Skipper had another plan. Since were were short of the mark about 8 yards, he had several of us slowly go to the leeward rail which made the boat carve more and head up without him touching the tiller. Since he didn't use the tiller to turn, boat speed wasn't scrubbed too much. We held on the rail for only 5-10 seconds and the quickly back to the weather which forced the boat to cease turning. We made the mark by a few yards and avoided the oncoming traffic.

Second event was coming into the windward mark which had an off-set mark about 30 yards apart. We were 5th approaching the mark with the lead boat about 50 yards in front of us and the second place boat about 10 yards behind them. Boats 3 and 4 were all within 15 yards of us, and closer to the mark. We were windward of Boats 3 and 4. Instead of turning hard at the weather mark, then futzing with the jib and spinny, we sailed more a soft apex between the two, which allowed us to get the jib down and spinny up in a more controlled fashion and allow us to carry speed through the turn. Boats 2, 3, and 4 all got into each others bad air, and at the end of the turn, we went from 5th to second in a matter of a minute or two. Later I was able to watch the on film and asked the skipper what made him decide to approach the mark that way. His response was something like, were were in 5th, if we just played followed the leader, we more than likely would be fifth at the end of the day. Had to try something to get us back in the hunt and getting caught up in the bad air and parade of boats doing the same thing, wasn't a solution.

OP if you can get on anther boat for a few races, it may be a worthwhile experience before you attempt it with your own boat.
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Old 07-22-2013
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

You sail the boat as fast as you can and learn not to be scared in 15 knots because no one else is. Then 20 knots.... etc.

You will watch the other boats when they pass you by and you will wonder why their sails are set as they are. Then when you set your sails like they do they wont pass you by anymore... all that sort of weird stuff
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Old 07-22-2013
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Being Scared.....Not

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Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
You sail the boat as fast as you can and learn not to be scared in 15 knots because no one else is. Then 20 knots.... etc.
On one particular Wed. Night Beer can race,the winds were in the 20-25kt range with gusts to 30. I was working the main on a J105 that night and asked the skipper if we were going to reef the main before we left the mooring. "Reef the main? Why? I don't think we have ever done that."
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

Dom
Most of the other comments are all very good and here is how I would get started.
1. Get to know familiar with the racing rules
2. Talk to other sailors in the club before hand and let them know you are a newbie, most of them will understand and be willing to help / guide you.
3. START LAST across the line. Follow the pack and watch their moves and trim.
4. don't get upset when you get yield at, its all part of the game
5. repeat #2 at the after party

I have raced big boats for years and then two yrs ago started single handed frostbite... boy did I learn a lot. What a blast.
Enjoy
Peter
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

Yep, when I got my new racing mainsail... and I was wondering where the flattening reef cringle was... the manufacturer responded with... Hey be glad we put the reef points in you'll never use! heheheh... True words (eh I used the reef points when I am solo sailing and just out cruising.. oh and once for our first charity race when the winds were howling 24-35).
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

just to be a PIA
Went sailing with my wife's cousin yesterday. She is a die hard small boat ( J boats etc) racer. She's a great sailor ( going to Denmark in a few weeks to race small boats). She is a delight and it was a pleasure to have some one I could tell "put more twist in the genny" or be asked "Do you think we could use more backstay tension?". However, I could not leave her alone at the helm. Didn't have the reflexes to be monitoring depth, chart, traffic, long term VMG, cues to local weather etc.
Racing is checkers (unless it's blue water) and cruising is chess. Think everyone learns trim from racing and it's very much worthwhile but that's only one skill of many needed to run a boat.
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
Think everyone learns trim from racing and it's very much worthwhile but that's only one skill of many needed to run a boat.
Absolutely. Racing experience does not AUTOMATICALLY make you a better cruiser. I don't think anyone would try to make that argument. But there are unquestionably lessons that you can learn from racing, which can then be applied to cruising.
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Old 07-23-2013
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Re: Being Scared.....Not

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB View Post
On one particular Wed. Night Beer can race,the winds were in the 20-25kt range with gusts to 30. I was working the main on a J105 that night and asked the skipper if we were going to reef the main before we left the mooring. "Reef the main? Why? I don't think we have ever done that."
I was crewing on a 1D35 for the first time last week in San Francisco Bay and asked the skipper, "is this a reefing line?" He said, "there are no reefing lines." It was a fast race...
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Old 07-23-2013
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Re: How does racing help you learn to be a better sailor?

Reefing lines? We put on a smaller headsail, and engage the ratchets on the spin blocks. If it gets too windy for that, then we are into "sinking old J24" weather
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