Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gains at the Finish

The ninth of Dave Dellenbaugh's Top Ten Tactical Tips was that there are often gains in position in the race to be made near the finish line. Using the ideas in this tip you can be one of those annoying people who comes from behind and passes another sailor in the final seconds of the race even though you have been behind them the whole race, and not be one of the patsies that gets picked off in this manner. Dave's advice was...

  • approach the finish on starboard tack if you are close to other boats.
  • finish head to wind - in other words "shoot the line".
  • finish at the favored end of the finish line.
And how do you find the favored end of the finish line, which is, of course, the downwind end if you are finishing upwind? Some of the ways discussed were...

  • look at the flag on the race committee boat.
  • look at the boats finishing ahead of you.
  • if it's a windward leeward course with the line in the middle of the course, check out the line as you pass it on the last downwind leg.
  • if it's the same as the start line (and the wind hasn't shifted and the race committee have not moved the boat or the pin buoy) then the favored end for the finish will be the opposite end from the one favored for the start.
Another way which can always be used, even if none of the above methods can be applied, is to use the laylines to the two ends of the finish line. As you sail up the beat keep an eye on the finish line. As soon as you are on a layline to one end, tack and follow that layline to the point where it crosses the layline to the other end of the finish line. At that point you should be able to see which end of the line is closest; that is the favored end.

So, all of you expert racers reading this blog, do you have any other tips for picking up a place or two at the finish line? Or any good stories about how you pulled off a master stroke in the last few yards of a race to win a major championship? Comments please.

And the final tip is…? Can you guess? Here it is.


Tim Coleman said...

I picked up a plce within yards of the line on Sunday.
This is how it happend.
I round the last mark just behind another competitor. He tacked onto Starboard to clear his air from the back wind of a boat in front of him.
I continued on port for about 10 boat lengths and then tacked to starboard.
When he tacked onto port to lay the finish line our paths crossed and he was forced to tack under my bow and I then tacked and made the finish line ahead of him. He tacked after me but was in my backwind and quickly dropped to leeward of me.
I think what he should have done was to bare away under my stern and then tacked onto my windward quarter and prevented me from tacking until he tacked again for the line and that would have forced me to bare off to lay the line and thus be in his backwind.

Anonymous said...

When will we ever learn?

Three times this past Saturday I lost a spot on the final windward leg to the finish. Club racing; three Sunfish and three Bytes; 5-10 mph and some current to reckon with. First time, ahead by maybe three boat lengths. Boat #2 was a Byte which I tried to cover. But she just sailed by me and beat me by half a boat length. I think that Bytes point a little better, but it still hurt.
Second time after have lead the whole (15 min) race, but not by much, another Sunfish caught up with me during the final leg. We were so close at the finish that we couldn't tell who had won, but the Results showed that I had lost once again.
And in the third race, while I was a close second, decided to go the other way to get away from the leading Sunfish. However, at the finish line, one of the Bytes had gotten by me as well.
Conclusion: Still so much to learn. A private lesson with Dellenbaugh perhaps?

Fuff said...

Yeah, but it's easy in a dinghy or keelboat, innit?!

Fuff said...

Am I allowed to get away with the previous comment without being flamed?

Anonymous said...

With you adrenalin racing through your body you hike like hell and work your mainsheet as much as the rules will allow.

Don't play follow the leader, but rather think about the entire situation and use common sense.

Far too often do I see people just follow everyone else, and give up on the last leg while settling for the place they are in.

During the Easter Laser Bilby Regatta my Dad went from second last, to finishing second in a fleet of 22 lasers. How did he do it? How did he manage to pick up and beat some of the best laser sailors in the country???


So, a way of increasing your place at the finish line is making sure you know the course before it's even begun!

He didn't do this throught tack or ability, but rather through common sense and understanding the entire race.

I'm so proud of my Dad! It was the best finish he has ever had.

(The winners of this regatta won chocolate easter eggs!)

Fred said...

OG, you made my day with your comment! Nicely said! smooth sailing.

JP said...

I do offshore yacht racing which is less likely to be driven by the factors here.

What is important is conserving energy in particular sleep management.

Towards the end of long legs people can loose focus that can hit all aspects of racing - not just trimming but also navigation.

I remember failing to check tides sufficiently due to tiredness and hence positioned us wrong - just a hundred metres further inshore would have reduced by the tide against us by several knots.

Won't do that again.

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