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Thought for the day - Why is Brad Gibson so fast?

I have been pondering this question since the Nationals at Fleetwood.

Let me start by claiming that I have no idea why his boat is so quick because I have only sailed competitively for less than a year but I have established some clues from my last outing at Gosport.

Lets get the obvious out of the way.

  1. He is a top skiff, moth and radio sailor multi world champion and has done this all his life.

  2. His tactics are so good and his ability to sail through a fleet is unmatched

  3. His boat set up is able to be copied as all the settings are on his web site.

So where does the speed come from. I had the opportunity to watch Brad in most of the races at the Fleetwood nationals and the one thing that became obvious aside from the points above was he sailed lower than everyone else when sailing to windward and his boat always seemed to be tracking slightly faster. There is a lot to be learned watching boats racing rather than actively racing as you cannot see what the leaders do when you are protecting your position in the middle of a fleet.

This Tuesday, I tried something different in light weather racing at Gosport to simulate sailing freer to windward. There were 16 boats out and conditions were light and shifty. I set the jib boom further out than the numbers suggested and put plenty of twist in the jib leach to make sure the slot was open. The main boom was set about 8mm out from the mainsheet post and with 1 click of ease on the sheet control stick both the jib and main booms went out another 4-5mm. This would be my windward leg setting for speed.

My goal here is to find a way to sail faster around the race course. I wrote a while ago that racing an IOM is like travelling on a moving walkway. Every time you slow your boat, whether by pinching, a bad tack or just sailing slow, you will lose ground against the leaders and it is nigh on impossible to make up that ground. So sailing fast and free with 100% concentration is a way to sail faster round the race course. Try the technique in a club race and see what happens. Bear in mind it will take practice and time to changing a mindset from sailing high to sailing fast. One side benefit of sailing slightly lower is it gives you more time to look up the course for the next wind shift.

I will write up results applying this technique in a breeze when we have some and let you know how it goes.

Here are the results from Gosport last Tuesday. Next event is the regional champs at Chipstead a week on Saturday.

My thanks to Paul Edwards again for yet again organising some fantastic racing.

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