Saturday, December 03, 2005


Last Sunday the winds were very light in south-east New England. The Sunfish frostbite fleet at Barrington decided that the wind speed was zero and didn't race at all. But the Newport Laser fleet convinced themselves that there actually was a wind of 2-4 knots and went out to race.

Here is part of the Words of Wisdom written after the racing by Dave Moffet.

I have always found the most important aspect of light air sailing is smooth boat handling and in order to have good handling you need to be dressed for flexibility. When it looked like the wind was going to stay light I took off the hiking pants and spray top. This allows you not only to move about easier, improving roll tacks and gybes but gives you a better feel for the boat and the wind and better ability to adjust your weight as the conditions require. No gloves, no hat, no dry suit just a wet suit and a good fitting life jacket.

What's the matter with this guy? Is he crazy? The temperature was at least 45 degrees. Surely he should have dispensed with the wetsuit too? And I hope he was sailing barefoot.

Seriously though, I am sure Dave has the right idea. Personally, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees I am inclined to the "better too hot than too cold" school. I wear plenty of layers under a drysuit. But I do feel like the Michelin man. (Probably look like him too). As a result I'm pretty clumsy in such conditions.

I do remember one October day a few years ago. The weather was cool and cloudy with light drizzle and light winds. I was wearing a shortie wetsuit and no hat; almost everyone else was bundled up in long wetsuits or drysuits, spray tops, warm hats, gloves, boots and so on. I had one of my best regattas ever, one of those rare days when I beat a bunch of guys that I had never beaten before (or since). I'm sure I sailed better because of the improved mobility and feel for the boat.

There's another factor too. The more bare skin, the more you are sensitive to the wind. I read somewhere that Dennis Conner always has a really short haircut before a major regatta so he can feel the windshifts better on the back of his neck.

Of course you could take this "maximize the area of naked flesh" thing too far ...

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