Author: David Dellenbaugh

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Adjust Your Mind-set for Big Fleets

By David Dellenbaugh

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It’s hard to make a rule of thumb about what to do on beats in big fleets because the relevant mix of variables is always unique and changing.   © Barry Hyman A J/24 World Championship several years ago featured a fleet of 100 boats and produced some classic big-fleet competition. Racing in a large fleet like this is quite a different game than sailing with only 20 or 30 boats. It brings a whole new set of…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Don’t Lose Your Way!

By David Dellenbaugh

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No matter how skilled you are, it’s impossible to do every job perfectly while you are racing. For example, you can’t watch your telltales when you’re looking at the waves. You can’t always sail on the lifted tack and cover the boats behind you at the same time. One thing that makes sailing fun and unique is that there is so much to think about. Since you can’t do everything at once, you must make choices about…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Prolong Your Sails’ Racing Life

By David Dellenbaugh

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Avoid flogging like the plague. The best way to maintain the strength and shape of your sails is to minimize the amount of time they flap in the breeze. Flogging breaks down the sail material. Don’t, for example, let your jib luff while you are having lunch in between races. It’s much better to drop a sail than to let it flap. If your boat is overpowered, don’t just let your sails luff. Bend your mast, flatten…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Trim Your Main for Speed

By David Dellenbaugh

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On most boats, the mainsail is by far the biggest sail, and this means the mainsail trimmer has the most important speed-producing job in the whole crew. Because there are so many ways to adjust the shape of your mainsail, trimming it can be pretty challenging. However, if you follow a few basic guidelines, even an inexperienced trimmer can make this sail go fast. Whether you race a one-design or a one-tonner, here’s a list of fool-proof…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Another Strategy for Using Line Sights

By David Dellenbaugh

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Using a line “sight” or “range” at the start is a tried-and-true method for making sure you are as close to the starting line as possible at the gun (but not OCS). I always use a line sight whenever I can find one, and this has helped me get some great starts. But there is one thing I do a little differently than many sailors. The standard way to get a line sight is by sailing outside…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Escape from the Leeward Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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When you get to the leeward mark, it’s important to make a good approach and a smooth turn around the mark. But the real measure of a successful rounding is how you come away from the mark. As you begin the next leg, you want good speed, clear air and the ability to follow your upwind strategy. I call this final part of the rounding an ‘escape’ because often it is just that. With so many other…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Converging on Starboard Tack

By David Dellenbaugh

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Last month we discussed the tactical moves available to a boat that is converging on port tack on a beat. There is a similar set of tactics for the boat on starboard tack (S). Since S has the right of way, she usually has more influence over what happens when the boats come together. However, simply having the right of way is not necessarily enough to ensure that you can sail in the direction you want after…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Converging on the Port Tack

By David Dellenbaugh

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By far the most common way that two boats interact on a beat is when they come together on opposite tacks. This happens many times during a race, and the tactics you choose to employ in each case can make a huge difference in your race results. The obvious first step is keeping a good lookout so you know when another boat is coming. The next step, and probably the most important when boats converge, is to…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Factors that Influence Layline Position

By David Dellenbaugh

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A layline is the path you would sail, when steering your optimal upwind or downwind course, to get around the next mark on one tack. We all know that laylines are invisible, of course, but many sailors don’t realize how much (and how often) laylines move around. Laylines are a function of many variables such as wind direction, wind speed, sea state and current strength. Therefore, whenever there is a change in any one of these things…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Beat Your Competition to the Finish

By David Dellenbaugh

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You may have a great strategy for getting to the finish line quickly, but it won’t help you much if you let other boats push you around. That’s why having good boat-on-boat tactics is so important. Tactics are the moves you make to stay in control of your race and follow your strategic plan. When you’re approaching a finish line, there are basically two tactical approaches you might take. You can either try to catch the boat(s)…

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