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Thought for the Day - When do you pull the trigger

I had a brilliant day at Emsworth on Thursday, not just because I won against good competition, but because I perfected my starting technique in a breeze.

When we arrived it was flat calm with a hint of a breeze from the North. Within 20 minute a gentle southerly filled in and we were all sailing with A rigs. A wise man (Rod Carr) pulled his boat in and went to fit a B rig because he had seen the wind speed on a wind sensor less than a mile upwind that was reading 18 knots. Before the first start, the wind built rapidly and we all changed down following Rod's lead.

The wind was perfect, straight down the length of the Slipper pond and a good windward leeward course was set. I had good boat speed but the thing I got right was the start. Before each start, a stack of boats queued up to hit the starboard end of the line on the gun as this was the only place to be. So the challenge was to position my boat near the right end of the line with 20 seconds to go with the boat as close to the wind as possible with sails flapping, holding boats to windward and watching those to leeward shoot off down the line. As the seconds clicked away I moved the boat right up to the line and as the gun went pulled the trigger. When I first started sailing these boats I used to pull the trigger with 1 second to go but was always over the line. It is amazing how far these 1 metres go in one second. Getting the start right was critical to getting to the front in this fleet and being able to position for the shift on the beat, I found getting to the port side of the beat and then reaching into the mark on a port tack lift was the quickest way into the windward mark and from there it was just fast sailing.

It is satisfying to win but there is so much I need to improve against the top IOM sailors. Time on the water is the only way to achieve this.


I have been taking a closer look at the rules lately and using Sail Replay which you can get for free post a few scenarios that may cause you to think twice. In fact these situations are covered in the call book for radio sailing which I thoroughly recommend you read it.

Here is the first. Yellow is approaching the windward mark on Starboard on a course about a boat length to windward of the mark. Yellow sees blue on port starting to tack and shouts don't go in there. Blue is coming in on port and tacks well under Yellow to close hauled. From position 3 yellow bears away sharply and hits blue as they arrive at the mark, pushing blue onto the mark. Who would be penalised if this went to protest? The answer lies in the call book. Answer in the next post and it is not straight forward. It really helps to know your rules.

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