Sunday, February 15, 2015

Stick your Neck Out

Keep your head outside the boat - how many times have I heard this advice ?  I don't know, but whatever the number is, it is many more times than I have actually listened to the advice. 

One thing that prevents me from heeding the advice is being distracted by concentrating on doing something that I hope will help with boat speed.  There are lots of things I need to do better to get some better boat speed and each time I try one, I am keeping my head in the boat. 

And, on some level, I am sure that getting my head out of the boat makes me feel like I am sticking my neck out.  Doing something concrete and immediate to help my situation instead of looking at the bigger picture and looking for strategic possibilities seems "safer", although, of course a good strategic choice will make up for a lot of mistakes in boat speed details.

Practically the only time I find myself able to keep my head out fairly regularly is during light winds when doing boat speed things is relatively easy - mainly keeping weight forward and being slow and deliberate in movements, with no waves to avoid upwind or surf downwind.

This was the case in our races this weekend - light air, which died completely at the end of the last race, giving us an opportunity to practice our sculling, rocking, paddling skills to get back in. At any rate, I managed to do several things right outside the boat. I kept a good lookout for puffs and several times gained by spotting some.  In the second race, I noticed that the Committee boat was not lying head to wind, indicating that the tide was stronger than I thought it should be.  I tacked earlier and with the help of the tide, managed to fetch the upwind mark while others stood further out.

The best was in the last race. On the last beat I saw some puffs far out on the right and went to get them. I stayed in them as long as I could, even though I realised I would be over the lay line.  It paid off - I came to the finish line a bit below close hauled, but managed to slide in ahead of a couple of boats that had lead me to the leeward mark and then stayed in the middle. I must admit that it felt good.
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