Author: David Dellenbaugh

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…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

First Beat Strategy: Go the Right Direction!

By David Dellenbaugh

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Left or right? That may be one of the most commonly asked questions before the start of any sailboat race. And the way each crew answers this question often makes the difference between finishing near the front of the fleet or at the back. Good speed is absolutely critical in almost every race. That’s because even if you have the best tactics and strategy in the world, you will be left in the dust if you’re not…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Sail Fast up the First Beat in Persistent Shifts

By David Dellenbaugh

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By David Dellenbaugh   When the breeze is shifting steadily in one direction, you need a different strategic approach than when it’s oscillating. Instead of playing the middle, head toward one side. Of course, your gameplan will depend a lot on how much confidence you have in your wind predictions. If you’re only 50% sure that the wind will veer right, for example, you probably wouldn’t want to sail too far into the corner. Here are some…

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