I promised I would write more about Dave Dellenbaugh's lecture last weekend at Cedar Point YC. Dave called his talk Top Ten Tactical Tips, though he was careful to point out that they cover strategy as well as tactics of sailboat racing and that, unlike Dave Letterman's Top Ten, they are not in any particular order.
For anyone confused about the difference between strategy and tactics in sailboat racing... Strategy is the plan you have for sailing around the course in the shortest time possible in the absence of other boats. (You always have one, I'm sure). And tactics are how you deal with all those other idiots getting in your way and stealing your place on the start line, screaming buoy room and water and overlap when you're still 10 boatlengths from the buoy, and always sitting there to windward of you spilling dirty air on you and ruining your perfect day. (My words, not Dave's, as if you hadn't guessed.)
Dave, of course, is well known in the sailing world as the tactician and starting helmsman on America3 the winner of the America's Cup in 1992, a Lightning world champion, six-time Thistle national champion, and winner of a host of other major championships. He is also renowned as a major sailing writer, most recently as the author of Speed & Smarts - the newsletter of how-to tips for racing sailors.
By the way, one of my commenters on this post was encouraging me to elucidate Rule 18 - popularly known as the "buoy room rule". At the seminar on Saturday, free sample copies of the January/February 2006 issue of Speed & Smarts were available. The whole issue is devoted to Rule 18 from the Racing Rules of Sailing so if Carol Anne or anybody else wants a refresher on buoy room stuff I encourage you to beg, borrow, steal (or if really desperate buy) a copy. Dave teaches it much more clearly than I ever could.
Talking of Speed & Smarts, the CPYC governor introducing Dellenbaugh's talk took the time to praise the newsletter and talk about how much he enjoyed browsing through it at his home and "in more private locations". Dave rose to the bait and admitted that Speed & Smarts could be found in "bathrooms across America". I guess there are a lot worse things you could be doing in there other than brushing up on how to improve your boatspeed, strategy, tactics and rules.
So I'm planning to write one post about each of Dave's top ten tactical tips. But first a disclaimer. Most of the stuff in this series will be an explanation of each tip in my own words followed by my own personal observations on each of them. So if what you read doesn't make any sense to you whatsoever or you don't agree with it, don't blame Dave -- blame me. Feel free to rant at me in the comments. And then go and catch one of Dave's seminars and get the real scoop.
So without more ado, here is Tip #1: Fast = Smart.