Author: David Dellenbaugh

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Execute the Perfect Rounding

By David Dellenbaugh

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In order to get around the leeward mark as quickly as possible, you need to have good boathandling technique. If you turn the boat too quickly or trim your sails the wrong way, you will lose momentum through the turn, and that could be costly. Perhaps the most important speed variable in a leeward mark rounding is your course through the water. This includes the shape of your turning arc and the placement of your turn relative…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Why and How to “Shoot” the Finish

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh Your finishing strategy is a plan for how you will get to the finish line as quickly as possible in the absence of other boats. As you near the end of the race, you must make two major decisions: First, at which end of the line will you finish? Second, how will you maneuver your boat to cross the line? It is usually best to finish right at either end of the line. That’s…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

How to Sail Fast Up the First Beat When You Have Oscillating Shifts

By David Dellenbaugh

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When the wind is shifting back and forth (as it often is), the key to a successful first beat is catching the first shift after the start and then staying “in phase” with the breeze until you reach the windward mark. Here are some ideas on how to do that: • Find the median. With an oscillating breeze, it’s important to figure out the median, or average, wind direction. This is usually the direction that’s midway between…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Heads-Up as You Approach the Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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The windward mark is a literal and figurative turning point in almost every race, so it’s important to approach the mark smartly and have a good rounding. As you get closer to the mark, there are many things you can do to help improve your chances of success. Here is a brainstorm list of some to consider. Of course, it won’t be possible to do all these things all the time. In fact, if you’re sailing a…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Figure Out the Favored Side First

By David Dellenbaugh

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Here’s one way to approach the beginning of a race: Sail around in the starting area long enough to get a good line sight and figure out which end of the line is farther upwind. Start near that end, right on the line with clear air. Then look around to see which side of the course is better, and head that way. I must admit I have started this way more than a few times, but I…

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

Maintain Speed While Turning

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh Unless you need to slow down for tactical maneuvering, one of the most important things at any mark rounding is maintaining speed while you turn. Steering a curved course means you have to angle the rudder off centerline. This creates drag and slows the boat. So in most cases, turn the boat as little as possible. When you do have to make big turns, like when rounding marks, you need good technique to keep…

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…

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