Originally Posted by ScottUK
Think a VMG instrument might teach you more.
*Edit - rereading I see I misunderstood Scott's meaning, but I'll leave the tirade below in-tack(t). He's right, VMG will tell you more than a knotmeter, and combining the both is awesome.
Not true. Having started racing properly about six months ago my skill set has increased dramatically, with years of progress yet to be made.
VMG at any given moment does not equate to best average VMG to a position. You need to account for current (potentially in the future), wind shifts, wind patches etc. To do this you get better at reading the water surface, reading the meaning behind other boats behaviors, the meaning of tells like clouds, flags and smoke stacks.
As well as that in racing each maneuver needs to be executed as precisely as possible and is easily measured against other boats sailing near you. Tack at the same time as a boat you are neck and neck with tacks and get rolled by them and you know they did a better job. Launch the spinnaker a minute later than everyone else and see the yards lost. You are forced to prepare the boat better, keep things organized, minimize mistakes.
Had to bear down to get to the top mark? You know you overstood the layline and lost ground, suddenly you start getting better at knowing how close to the wind you can sail and visually judging that relative to the current wind. You get better at knowing simple things like the true wind direction, at all times.
You're also going to expand your sailing envelope - going to push flying the spinnaker in stronger winds (hopefully with experience needed on board to help you out), not going to fire up the motor you're going to learn how to make the boat move in lighter air than it seems possible to move in.
VMG is useful, it is something I've used for years, but only sporadically. Seeing other boats on the water nearby, heading the same way is a far more visceral experience.
Lastly, find the right boat (I hope Kraken is one of those boats) and you will have fun, without angry screaming. Its teamwork if you want it, or you vs your mates. Its a bunch of people who love the same thing in the same place at the same time helping each other improve and figuring out a really complicated thing.