Monday, 23 March 2009

Weekend Race Clinic

So I've promised myself that this season we will cruise more and race less. I have told myself that I need to slow down and take things easy.

Then I got the race schedule.

Then I got invited to a North Sails Race clinic.

Now I have to exercise much constraint.

On Saturday I went to a church hall and sat through 8 hours of trim and rules. How to flatten your sail to dump wind, when to let out sails to hold wind. When to use the outhaul, what does the backstay do? What to do upwind, what to do downwind, what to do when what you are doing isn't doing anything.

It was information overload before lunch. Then it WAS lunch.

In our sailing club, whenever Dianne is making food the event is worth going to. We had home-baked bread, soups that were AMAZING and boat talk with friends. Who is coming into the harbour - who is leaving, who is doing what to their boat and why. I think ours is the only boat in the harbour without new sails.

After lunch, we started into the rules. The rules of sailboat racing are essentially quite simple, but their application is so complex it can make your head spin.

Basically, there are three key rules:
    When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat
    shall keep clear of a leeward boat.
    When boats are on the same tack and not overlapped, a boat clear
    astern shall keep clear of a boat clear ahead.
    After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats
    until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11
    and 12 do not apply. If two boats are subject to this rule at the same time, the one on the other’s port side or the one astern shall keep clear.

Then they start throwing stuff to confuse the issue - these are the "excepts"

    A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible.
    However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room or mark-room
    (a) need not act to avoid contact until it is clear that the other boat
    is not keeping clear or giving room or mark-room, and
    (b) shall not be penalized under this rule unless there is contact
    that causes damage or injury.
    When a boat acquires right of way, she shall initially give the other
    boat room to keep clear, unless she acquires right of way because of
    the other boat’s actions.
    When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other
    boat room to keep clear.

    In addition, when after the starting signal a port-tack boat is keeping
    clear by sailing to pass astern of a starboard-tack boat, the starboard-
    tack boat shall not change course if as a result the port-tack
    boat would immediately need to change course to continue keeping

These rules go on for some time, and after about 3 hours of running through the rules and different scenarios, my mind was mush. I almost fell asleep once or twice, and I was generally having a hard time concentratting.

By the time we left what I came out with was this:

If you know th erules better than th enext guy, and know how to trim better than th enext guy, you'll do OK. You don't have to know it all, you just have to know it better than the guy you're up against. And heaven help you if the next guy does know it all.

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