Started Sailing

How can I make my beat strategies better?

by Andy

I've been sailing for a year and a half, and am moving onto the serious laser circuit. This weekend, I found myself in the top ten at the leeward mark, among national squad sailors, and those that were in contention for the weekend's win, but, by the end of the beat, I was in 18th.

My boat speed and pointing ability was as good if not better than the boats around me and I checked the pre-race with someone else on the water I know, but it's my strategy that is awful.

I have a compass that I try to use to identify shifts, but other than that, I find it really difficult to try and work out when to tack and what route to take upwind. I can identify more wind on one side and shifts, but I just can't seem to utilise this information practically! Any general tips for improving my beat strategy?

Comments for How can I make my beat strategies better?

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May 15, 2010
by: Han

Hi Andy,

This really is Alex's "beat", but as he doesn't react (maybe he's madly in love?) I'll try but haven't sailed a planing boat since 50 years.

What I remember: your beats should fall within an upside down V with the leeward mark at the bottom and the upwind mark at the top.

The most efficient way to realize this is to tack when the upwind mark is in line with your beam(square on the course-line). To help you learn this you can stick a brightly-coloured tape on the gangway at both sides, parallel to the beam.
We used (then) to have two other help-tapes, pointing 45° forward and backward, forming a V pointing inward. This is a great help in a duel during a club-race, or in match-racing.

As your experience still has to grow, I would concentrate on the most efficient set of beats, and leave the shifts alone till you can do that on the auto-pilot. Most people try to learn to sail with their brains, but as my father used to say: "your feet and your bum tell you when to act on a shift": don't act when you see it coming, but be prepared to act when you feel the boat starting to heel.

Undoubtedly somebody knows better, let him/her react: most important is you being first to cross the line.

Let us know how you grow, please.



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