Author: David Dellenbaugh

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Don’t Lurk in Wind Shadows

By David Dellenbaugh

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One of the most important parts of tactical planning is avoiding the bad air of other boats. The effects of sailing in wind shadows, even for short periods of time, can be devastating. This is especially true on the first beat, where everyone starts out so close together and losing even one boatlength can put you back in the pack. Here’s another way to think of it: Many sailors work very hard on boatspeed (and that’s a…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Tips and Tricks for Laylines

By David Dellenbaugh

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If you want to get around the windward mark quickly, you have to know something about laylines. Laylines are those imaginary dotted pathways on the water that show the course a boat would sail to fetch the mark on either tack. Though laylines are generally good places to avoid, you have to reach one sooner or later in order to round the mark. So it’s important to know where they are. Of course, laylines are never etched…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Practice Drills for Better Starts

By David Dellenbaugh

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At most starts, there are lots of boats maneuvering in tight quarters. If you want to emerge at the front of the pack, you need excellent boathandling skills. Fortunately, there are many ways to simulate and practice the moves you need to make at the starting line. Here are several drills to increase your chances of success. Time and distance Knowing how long it will take you to move from one place to another is critical for…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

When It Pays to Overstand the Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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It’s not usually a good idea to overstand the windward or leeward marks. Whenever you sail past the layline you are simply giving away free boatlengths to every other boat in the fleet. There are some times, however, when intentionally overstanding the mark can be a smart, or at least a smartly conservative, move. Here are a few examples: Current flowing with wind – One of the hardest times to call a good layline is when there’s…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Wind Direction: Oscillating or Persistent?

By David Dellenbaugh

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In many races, changes in wind direction are the most common and significant strategic factor. The wind is almost always shifting, and even small changes in direction can lead to huge gains and losses in the race. Therefore, if you want to get to the first mark in good shape, you must be skilled at recognizing and playing the shifts. In most races, the windshift pattern is either oscillating (i.e. shifting back and forth around a fairly…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Approaching the Leeward Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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A successful leeward mark rounding begins well before you get to the two-length zone. In fact, there are many things you can do before you reach the mark to prepare for your rounding and the next leg. The more you can work on these before the leeward-mark fire drill, the better off you’ll be. Strategize for the next beat You can (and probably should) start thinking about your strategy for the next beat soon after you begin…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Check Out the Course Geometry

By David Dellenbaugh

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When I talk about racecourse geometry, I mean how the marks are positioned relative to each other and the wind direction. When you are strategizing before the start, you should be concerned primarily with the location of the first mark. For example, is it dead upwind from the starting line? Here are some other things to consider. Look for the first mark One of my basic rules of thumb is that before you get to a mark…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

FAQs About Rules Near the Finish

By David Dellenbaugh

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When boats converge at the finish line and you’re fighting for every inch of real estate, it definitely helps to have a good working knowledge of the racing rules. You need to know the basic right-of-way rules, of course, but there are also quite a few rules that apply uniquely when you are finishing. Here are some questions that are frequently asked about those rules.   © Rick Bannerot/OntheFlyPhoto.net   Once I finish the race, can I…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Avoid Bad Air from Other Boats

By David Dellenbaugh

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When it comes to other boats, your biggest tactical problem is usually the wind shadows they create. While it’s true that you sometimes have to change your course to avoid hitting your competitors or to give them right of way, these problems are generally not as significant as the widespread effects of bad air. In a big fleet it’s not uncommon to sail in disturbed air for at least part of each upwind leg, especially the first…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Six Ways to Identify a Layline

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh Before you round any mark you have to get to the layline, so it helps a lot to know where the layline is. To avoid overstanding or understanding (and losing time or distance), find a good method for making consistently accurate layline calls. Here are some tips: • Avoid long-range laylines. The easiest way to improve your layline calls is by getting closer to the mark before you have to make them. This isn’t…

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