Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Getting Unstuck

I've been thinking about how to get "unstuck" from my current plateau of sailing performance. It seems to me that my biggest weakness is my starting technique. I am much too cautious at starts. I tend to approach the start line (from downwind) late. Sometimes I don't get into the front row. And even if I do line up in the front row I am too hesitant to accelerate well and beat the boats to windward and leeward of me. Essentially I'm too worried about being over the start line early that, most times, I don't get a good start. Then I'm sailing in bad air, and have to tack out and duck transoms to find a clear lane. Other boats are dictating my strategy and I'm just losing distance on the leaders all the time.

I know that when I get a good start, the race is a different experience. I am sailing in clear air and going fast. I can see up the course, see the wind on the water and can decide which side of the course looks best. And I have the freedom to go that way.

So how to break out of my bad habits? The seminar in Florida was a great help - lots of practice starts when the results didn't matter and we could experiment with different approaches. The trick is to establish a more aggressive starting style and not slip back into old habits in "real" races. I decide that one way to wire a better habit into my brain is to use our Wednesday night Sunfish series just to practice starts. I will be up on the line every time. I won't even worry about being over early (or in racing terminology OCS - On Course Side). In fact if I'm not called OCS at least once every week it will be a sign I'm not really trying.

After all, my real focus this year is Laser sailing. And my bumper sticker does say, "LASER - other boats are just practice".

The Yankees won again on Tuesday night - another close game - another save by Mariano. Life is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment