The Golden Hour, is that important time between the dock start and the gun. Leave early enough to get in an hour of serious sailing before the start.
- Head in the game. Throw some tacks to get everything working right.
- Confirm your assumptions about the the weather and its effect on your race strategy.
- Gather and confirm your tactical data.
- Do at least 4 complete race-grade tacks.
- Check your speed against your polars.
- If possible, hook up with some competition to fine tune your performance and target speed shading.
- Assess sea state, wind shear and gradient and adjust the sail trim for it.
Planning the weather leg
We need answers these Big Questions
- Is there a pattern to the weather that can be exploited?
- Is there a clear choice as to which side to favor? (This question should be revisited at each leeward rounding).
- Local knowledge.
- Sea breeze onset.
- Frontal passage.
Planning the start
- The start plan must protect the chosen side of the course.
- Do we have enough confidence in our preparations and predictions to sail to attack now, or do we sail defensively and possibly attack later?
- If not we must sail defensively, a cautious middle third of the line is all we need.
- Let the others fight (risk) for starts at the ends of the line.
- Use the tools that you have to avoid OSC; the ends of the line are a long way away. But this should provide an open lane, allowing you to wally up the center of the leg.
- If we have a pattern to exploit.
- Our start plan has to position the boat to take advantage of the information that we have collected.
- This information will provide the confidence to fight for plan
- How great is the speed potential of the boats on the starting line? One design or mixed fleet.
- How can these differences be exploited? Turning radius, acceleration, way carrying ability? Find your competitive strength and exploit it.
- The precision which you can answer each of these questions gives you a leg up.
- The start plan is based specifically on the information that you collected during the Golden hour or the history recorded by the driver.
- Only use Tactics to defend your strategy. Don’t lose sight of the prize.
At the starting line
- Get wind direction/speed and note any trends.
- Check ends of line for favored end and current.
- Ping the ends of the line.
- Set stopwatch for start using the Start page is Race verify your start line pings.
- Be on the lookout for wind direction shifts beyond the Golden hour data.
- The bad news is this may cause you to rethink the plan.
- The good news is not everyone has figured it out yet.
- Don’t show your cards
On the race course
- Track shear to see if the plan is working.
- Sail your course angles, work through each mark rounding.
- Monitor magnetic wind direction to make adjustments to your evolutions.
- Collect information on the amount of Shear.