Thursday, May 18, 2006

Big Picture

The last of Dave Dellenbaugh's Top Ten Tactical Tips was short and sweet: Don't lose sight of the big picture. Every time you make some tactical move to outsmart one other nearby boat, you are losing distance to every other boat in the fleet. Hard to remember when you're caught up in some tacking duel with your arch-rival or are luffing way above the rhumb line on a reach to prevent that same guy from taking your wind. But you do need to keep an eye on where the rest of the fleet is; no point in keeping ahead of one boat if, in the process, ten others pass you.

Of course some times the only thing that matters in this race is beating that one other boat. Remember the final of the Laser class at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney? To win the gold medal Ben Ainslie of Britain had to force Robert Scheidt from Brazil to finish the final race in lower than 20th place. Ainslie executed a superb one-on-one covering operation to slow down Scheidt as the rest of the fleet sailed away. They eventually collided after Scheidt gybed to escape the cover (Scheidt lost the protest) but by that time the Brazilian was only able to recover to 22nd place.

But you're not Ben Ainslie and I'm not what stands between you and a gold medal. So if we meet on the racecourse, remember that big picture and lay off the aggressive tactics against me.


Fuff said...

Hear hear, that goes for cruisers wanting to run me down in their efforts to be first to the bar too. Ben Ainslie lives just down the road from me. He's a brilliant sailor. His performance in the 2000 Olympics (and 2004) was a joy to watch.

Fuff said...

Hmmm...somebody touch a nerve in Wednesday night racing?

Tillerman said...

No fuff. This is generally not a problem for me. As an inveterate middle-of-the-fleet guy, the guys above me in the fleet are faster than me so don't need to mess with boat-on-boat tactics. And the guys slower than me are so pathetic they don't even think of it.

hold fast said...

Sailing with a youth team on an IC24, we won a race due to just such a circumstance... With just three boats in the running, an otherwise "better" adult team chose to chase and cover on another boat, and ultimately gave the race away. At the bar, we all had a good laugh about it... apparently, one of the fellows had looked back over his shoulder at us and remarked, "What the hell are we doing?"... as they perfectly covered the third-place finisher.

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