Author: David Dellenbaugh

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Tactical Moves for the Second Beat

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh Strategy is your plan for how to get around the race course as quickly as you can. One problem is that strategy does not consider the presence of other boats. Since your competitors are all trying to win the race, too, they make it harder for you to follow your own gameplan. To overcome this you need good tactics. Tactics are the boat-on-boat moves you make that help you stay in control of your…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

When You are Converging On a Beat

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh It’s blowing about 15 knots and you’re racing up the first beat of the first race at the J/24 Nationals. The wind has been oscillating all day, and you are now sailing a lift on port tack, crossing almost all the boats that were to your right. Your crew is focused on the wind and waves ahead, and everyone is hiking to keep the boat flat. “Puff coming in 10 seconds,” says your bow…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Evaluate the Current Flow

By David Dellenbaugh

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Another important factor in any pre-start strategic plan is the current. First you must observe and get an accurate picture of how the current is flowing across the course area. Then you have to figure out how this affects your strategic plan. Collecting current information Just as you must gather wind data before the start, you have to collect information about the set (direction) and drift (speed) of the current. • Before you leave the dock, look…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Make a ‘Game Plan’ for the Windward Leg

By David Dellenbaugh

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  It’s critical to have a good strategic plan for the windward leg because that is usually where the fleet gets farthest apart. When boats are on opposite sides of the beat, their separation can be huge, and even a small change in wind direction, pressure or current can have a huge impact on the fleet standings. Of course, if the conditions never change you don’t have to worry about strategy. In that case, the race will…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Stay Ahead by Covering

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh “Why didn’t you cover?” is often the first question you hear when you were doing well in a race but got passed by one or more boats from behind. This is a great question, but it doesn’t always have a straightforward answer. “Covering” usually means staying between the next mark and one or more boats that are behind you. The goal of this tactic is simply to reduce your risk if the wind shifts…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Basic Principles for Rounding Marks

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh If you want your mark roundings to be quick and safe, there are certain strategies that work almost every time. For example, you should round each mark close enough that you could reach out and touch it. You should locate the next mark visually before you round this one. And you should definitely develop a strategic plan for the next leg before you round any mark. One reason why it’s important to follow rules…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Starting in a Mixed Fleet

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh A number of sailors have asked me to share more ideas about racing in handicap fleets. Here are some thoughts on how to approach a start and the first part of a beat when you are one of the smaller boats in your class: Get a copy of the “scratch sheet” for your class. Look to see how many of your competitors are faster than you, and how much faster they’re supposed to be….

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Questions to Consider After the Start

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh When you come off the starting line on starboard tack, it’s tempting to relax a little because you are finally getting away from the frenzied crowd. If you want to do well, however, you really need to focus on a new set of post-start priorities. Here are a bunch of questions you should consider as soon as you start racing up the beat. Use the answers to help plan your immediate tactical and strategic…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Try These Strategy Ideas After the Leeward Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh Strategizing for the second beat is a lot like planning for any other leg. your strategy (the plan you make for getting to the windward mark as quickly as possible) should be in place before you round the leeward mark. It doesn’t have to be too complicated, but it should consider a number of factors like wind velocity, wind shifts, current, waves and the location of the next mark (but not the presence or…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Position Yourself for Success

By David Dellenbaugh

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When you’re trying to fight your way to the front of any fleet, there are three tactical goals to keep in mind. First, you must be able to sail your boat as fast as possible. Simply put, you have to avoid the bad air of other boats. Your second goal is to keep your strategic options open. That is, you must maintain the ability to go left or right, depending on what happens with the wind. If…

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