Saturday, June 04, 2005


I find it hard to take the Sunfish seriously. It's such a weird little boat. But my club has a Wednesday evening Sunfish fleet that's kind of fun and I enjoy the social aspects -- a.k.a. beer and pizza after racing. This year I've been using these races just to practice my starts and not worrying too much about what happens after the start which is usually pretty dire.

This week was different.

Before launching I was chatting to another sailor who is new to the Sunfish. He was looking at how I had set up my boat and I was giving him my usual line of, "Don't copy me. I know nothing."

But this guy was persistent.

"Why don't you have a line or a clip on the first grommet on the lower spar?" he asked.

"I dunno. Somebody told me that was the way to do it."

"Doesn't it make the sail baggy there?"

"Huh. Maybe. I dunno."

I told him that I thought most of the little tweaks and variations you find on racing Sunfish are of more psychological value to the skipper than anything else.

I went out for a practice sail. I looked at the front of the sail. Hmm -- maybe there is too much of a curve there. The second grommet had a loose tie but the third one had a clip and there was a vertical crease running up from that clip. Sort of looked ugly.

I returned to shore. I tweaked a bit. Added a tie at the first grommet. Replaced the clip at the third grommet with a tie. Fiddled with them until the front of the sail had a nice smooth entry with no vertical creases.

The races started in a shifty south-easterly breeze, maybe 8 knots. 13 boats racing

Race 1 - led for threequarters of the race but lost out on the final beat by boats that went to both corners. Seemed to be a big lift out on the left side. Ended up 5th. Pretty good for me in this fleet.

Race 2 - 1st. Race 3 - 2nd. Race 4 - 1st. Race 5 - 2nd.

What happened? I can't believe it. Neither can anybody else. I'm just here to practice starts, I despise the boat, and I have the best performance on the night. Moi?

Did my tweaks make all that difference? And if they did was it just psychological?

Of course it could have been because I nailed every start perfectly and used the strategic knowledge that I gained watching other sailors on the first race. But why was I able to do that this week when I never have before?

Tweaks. As W would say, "Don't misunderestimate them."

The more I sail, the more I think that is a weird sport.

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