Winter sailing – keep the rust off!!

  By Andrew Kerr

 For most of us the season on the water has slowed down – but there are still a number of upcoming events that we can participate in as well as things that we can do off the water to maintain and improve our individual and team skills.   

 Travel & sail!

 There are a number of great winter regatta’s to attend and this is naming just a few– Mission Bay’s Hot rum regatta in mid December, San Diego Yacht club’s annual New years day race, Arizona Yacht clubs annual Birthday regatta, The Southern California midwinter’s and the annual WD Schock Memorial regatta.  Before you know it the early spring will be with us and events like the Dog Wood regatta in Atlanta and the Camellia Cup on Folsom Lake will present great sailing opportunities.

 All these events and others will offer great sailing in the S20 and an opportunity to connect with other S20 sailors from all over the country, please see for event details.

 On the land:

 Try having the team meet up every month to talk sailing – make it a fun social time, watch video’s of boat handling, review the tuning guide for the sails, starts & sail trim, plan the schedule and as a suggestion - review a racing rule a month.

 Try to read as much as possible – particularly on tactics, strategy, starts & tuning as well as other sports related books  – one of my favorites is “the inner game of tennis” by Neil Innes – this explores the psychological make up and visualization of champion tennis players and competitors in general, it’s great reading.

 A good thing to do as a team is to talk about hypothetical tactical scenarios on the race course, this is a great one to do on the drive to the regatta – an example – “the line is fairly long and is favored by 7 degrees to the pin end in a fairly big fleet, but the right side is the place to go for a geographical shift – what would you do?”

 Another example of a hypothetical scenario – “We are on starboard tack on a average (median) compass heading, the velocity is even on both sides of the course, we are 10 boat lengths to leeward of the starboard tack lay line and about 25 lengths from the mark and a pack of four boats are coming out of the left side, 6 boat lengths to leeward of the port lay line, and look either bow to bow with us or just slightly ahead- what would you likely do?” There is no exact correct answer but the important thing is to explore the tactical process for each crew member and help get them involved in playing what is essentially a game of chess.

What this does is really helps the team develop awareness and visualization skills and get on the same page about what the likely move will be on the race course. It’s also fun as you are thinking about the moving chess game that tactics and strategy present.  The tactical mind doesn’t like to be beaten but

One thing I try to do before a regatta which I would encourage you to try – particularly if I am sailing on a new boat or in a new crew position is to visualize the steps necessary to be successful – everything from being part of the boat preparation, the commute out to the starting line and, the pre start practice and then each subsequent maneuver around the race course.

This can help you adapt to the new situation quickly (or after a long lay off from sailing) and be a more effective team member from the get go.

Good sailing!