Friday, March 30, 2012

Top Two Tips for Laser Sailors

I have a question.

If you have been reading this blog for any time you will know that I am an aging, unfit, clumsy, uncoordinated, erratic, usually bottom half of the fleet, passionate Laser sailor. What two things do you think I should do this year to improve my racing performance?

It might be particular skills to work on. It might be an approach to training, or physical fitness, or mental fitness. It might be recommendations on how to spend most of my time. Anything you like. If you don't have a handle on what aspects of my sailing I need to improve, then have a browse through my posts about competing in Regattas in the last couple of years.

There is a right answer, sort of. Or at least one answer to the question from a very good coach who saw me sailing and racing over five days in January. The occasion was my trip to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic in Janaury for a four day clinic and one day regatta. A group of us, all Laser sailors who had been to Cabarete with me, all of them of similar ability to me, were sitting around in the airport at Puerto Plata awaiting our return flights to the US.

Our heads were spinning with all the things we had learned during the week at Cabarete. We were chatting about our experiences over a beer (or two) and comparing notes on what we thought were the most important learnings to take back home. We all seemed to have different ideas as to what would give the biggest payback in helping us work our way up the fleet.

Then we were joined by the young man who had been the assistant coach for the week. He was an American college sailor who had been working at Cabarete during his winter vacation. We had all been impressed by his insights and feedback during the week, not to mention the way he had jumped into a Laser for the final race of the regatta and whupped the whole fleet.

One of our number asked the coach, "So what is the ONE thing that we should work on if we want to improve?"

The coach didn't seem to have to think long before he gave the answer. Actually he gave us TWO things. One of them was an item that would probably have been on my list of top three priorities anyway. One was a bit of a surprise to all of us, I suspect.

So what do you think the coach's two top tips for Laser sailors (like us) were? Or what are your top two tips for us?

Answers in the comments please.

This post sponsored by Thrum Knitted Sailing Caps from Quality Caps.

22 comments:

Chris said...

I'm guessing that the primary thing - it's always the primary thing with me when I do well (and the thing missing when I don't) - is to "pay attention". You have to pay attention to your boat, your body, the conditions you're in now and the ones that are coming at you, the rest of the fleet, spectator boats and course obstacles, the course itself. You have to always be paying attention (to everything, it seems, all of the time, which seems near impossible), but when you're in the groove you know how it already feels: you're at total attention then, without trying.

But that's the easy thing. I'm waiting to see what the surprising thing is.

I'd be guessing at "keep still if you can", but that's not a surprising thing, is it? Moving around much on such a small boat has tremendous (usually adverse) effects on boat speed ... but that's not a surprising thing to sailors of small boats.

BlueVark said...

1) Enjoy yourself

2) refer to (1) - Otherwise why do it at all. Lets face it i'm not sailing for the glory of winning, even at club level.

Tillerman said...

Great tip Chris, Thank you. But different from the ones given by the coach.

Well said BlueVark. We have had this discussion on here before. Yes, I sail to enjoy myself. And yes I very rarely win, and who cares about the "glory" anyway? But I do take a pleasure in learning to sail better. That's all this question is about.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

My six-pack.

Baydog said...

Keep the tall pole pointing toward the sky.
If not, keep a good grip on the mainsheet.

Tillerman said...

That's a bit advanced for me Baydog. Can we start with something easier?

Sam Chapin said...

I will try again. earlier today I did something wrong and my comment was kicked out. 1. Keep you head out of the boat. 2. Take the long tack first. 3. Maybe he said something about working through the waves. that can bwe advanced athletic stuff. 4. Practice starts-- from dead slow to full speed to get out in front and then sail your race. (Number 4 shouod be my next blog)

JP said...

Tempted to quote Woody Allen and say "turn up" - either that or have a leak before heading out.

Tillerman said...

There you go JP. Focus on the basics. I like it.

Sam. All good stuff. Actually, working on getting better starts was one of the the two things that the coach said would most improve our race results. That was the one that I felt wasn't really a surprise. Easy to say. Hard to do. Looking forward to your blog post on that one.

O Docker said...

Dark and stormy.

Anonymous said...

Relax

Wavedancer

Sam Chapin said...

We are still looking for an important, but surprie suggestion-- I will add USE YOUR WEIGHT TO STEER THE BOAT. Very important, but, gosh, no suprise to Laser sailors.

Judith Krimski said...

I missed that part of the conversation. Core workouts?

Tillerman said...

Judith and Wavedancer are getting close. It is something to do off the water.

O Docker said...

Yoga or yogurt?

One of those is something you eat and the other is a method of attaining a higher level of awareness through meditation, fitness, and body control (or something like that). I can never remember which is which.

I mean the one that isn't something you eat.

Tillerman said...

Once again, O Docker is right. Yoga is the answer.

Now I have to go and write a post about why yoga was the answer and whether yoga really is the answer and how yoga can help Laser sailors etc. etc. etc. and then think of some way to work knitting into a yoga post.

But first up a post about naval warfare during the Civil War, and knitting.

O Docker said...

So yoga is the one you don't eat, right?

Tillerman said...

It is? You don't? Oh. Maybe he said the other one. Or perhaps not. I suppose I could write posts about both of them and at least one would be right.

theknittingsailor.com said...

I am very impressed with the hat. To find out more about thrumming and the technique involved so you can create your very own you might like to check out this great explanation - http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/thrumfaq.html

Tillerman said...

Thank you Victoria. My comments have been very lacking in knitting advice lately. I am sure that my readers will appreciate knowing where to find out about thrumming. You can't beat a good thrum, is what I always say.

Frank C said...

Was the young sailor you referred to in this Blog Sean Kelly by chance? The reason I ask is that Sean was the assistant coach at last summer's Gorge Laser Clinic and when I asked him about off-water training, he talked about yoga. Nice guy and good teacher at his young age.

Tillerman said...

No, Frank it wan't him. But they are near contemporaries and they have been coached by the same coach which may explain the interest in yoga. More details in an upcoming post.

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