Light Air Sailing

11/15/2001 by Struan Robertson

Copyright:© 2001 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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Page 4: Mr Smooth
Page 6: Eye on the Prize
(continued from previous page)

Another area to be wary of is the wing mark. It is natural for nearly all of us to want the inside running at this mark to get a commanding position on the pack for the reach to the bottom mark. But in light air this is not necessarily the case. Twice on the above-mentioned day I trailed the bunch into the wing mark only to gain four to six places by going the long way around. This was not achieved by my boat's superiority in light air, but by being smooth and gentle with the controls. When others got to the mark and jammed their boat into a ninety-degree turn with the gybe to boot, I just quietly bore a way around the outside in a smooth turn and gybed slowly, thus retaining speed and sailed an initial low course for the next mark. The others not only lost heaps of speed in their hurry to turn the corner, but also lost more by having the air totally unattached in any way after the gybe. Add to this not only the air disturbance of all the sails, but also the water disturbance by hull waves and foil flow through the water, and you can see what I meant by close and tight is not necessarily the fastest way around a mark.

I could go on a lot longer, but you will by now have the message that attitude, patience, and careful boat set up will make those very light air days much more enjoyable. And if you're not sure of how to go about it, then ask one of the fast guys. If they are any sort of sportsman they will only too gladly stop and help you.