Monday, October 02, 2006

News from the Star Worlds

Although the story below is from the Sailing Anarchy frontpage, I thought I'd post it here because it has a really good description of tactics for shifty breeze. Andy Horton and Brad Nichol are two young hotshots in the class. I had the opportunity to get beaten by them in the Sunapee Open last year. Their website has some of the best photos of Star sailing I have seen. Here are some examples:

Here's their report from the first day of the Worlds:

It is nice when your hard work and preparation starts to come together. After a week of training, long days for our coach measuring the currents on San Fran Bay, and months of planning we kicked off Day 1 of the Star World Championships with a solid second place finish. There is still a long list of things to improve upon and we still have our debrief before bed, but we are off to a good start.

After being postponed for 90 minutes due to no wind, the first start gun sounded just after 1:30pm. The westerly breeze proved very shifty all afternoon, ranging from as much as 13 knots to as little as 5, with the wind strength varied all over the course. We sailed a course with two mile long legs up and down the bay for a total of ten and a half miles over three hours.

Our plan was to start in the middle of the line where we would not be forced over the line early and sail up the middle playing the shifts. This conservative approach does not win races but if executed well will get you in the top ten as someone will always pass you on the corners of the course. We played the shifts like good lake sailors and hedged towards the favored side of the course. With good boat speed and concentration during the light tricky phases we managed to round the first weather mark in third place.

We played the puffs and concentrated on boat speed through the middle of the course on the first leeward leg which again proved to be a good conservative choice. We rounded the gate in second place and were able to hold the position through the remainder of the race.

The light wind is unusual for San Francisco but we think it will prevail for the next few days before the weather pattern changes and brings the strong winds everyone expects. We have one race scheduled to start at noon tomorrow. We will keep you posted on how it goes!


Andy & Brad

Tip of the Day: Start at the favored end of the line in big fleets. Today the start line was nearly a mile long with 80 boats. In the first general recall, the pin was 10-15 degrees favored. The boat at the pin, Andy MacDonald, was able to start and tack onto port crossing the whole fleet by 20 boat lengths!

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