Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Miami OCR: Marginal conditions on Day 2

After a lay day yesterday, the fleet was ready to race in today's sunny, marginal northwest wind. Miami is famous for this kind of wind, and it makes for some really tough conditions. It's all frontal, and flows over the land and tall buildings, so it ends up being really shifty and gusty. During racing, the wind slowly veered right, slowly making the right side of the course favored.

The priority of the day was to stay in good pressure at all times. The RS:X is an "all or nothing" kind of board (due to its hefty size and weight), which means that you can either be going fast in good pressure, or barely moving in the holes. This was made difficult by the shifting breeze.

The pin end of the starting line was favored (that's the left side looking up a course) and the right side of the course was favored. A basic rule of starting is that you should start on the side of the line closest to the direction you want to sail (if you want to go right, start on the right or boat end of the line). However, since the left end (pin) was favored, I hung around down there and ended up having some really great starts.

After you've had a good start on the favored end of the line, but have to go the other way to the favored side of the course, what do you do next? The answer is to tack out and try to remain in the "control" position on top of the fleet. This was made difficult by a big hole in the middle of the course, created by the wind shadow of some tall condominiums and the downtown Miami high-rise buildings. As the breeze came in from the right, the goal was to ride the best pressure up the course and not be lured into sailing too far right on a big header.

Another aspect of racing that I was concerned with today was being in "attack" mode and recognizing advantageous situations so that I could act on them. As I like to go into endurance athlete mode and hammer away at pumping the rig, it's more difficult for me to go into a 60-70% effort mode and work the rig in the harness in order to see where wind shifts and other sailors are on the racecourse. I managed to accomplish this the second race, and practicing this more will help bring together all the elements of racing boards.

The forecast for tomorrow is for lighter winds out of the northeast, which means more marginal conditions. I'd like a few days of really light air or big breeze, but around here this is the prevalent condition. However, it gives me a chance to work on racing well in my least favorite condition and improving my game.

My camera is still gone (stolen) so I most likely won't be able to post pictures from the coach boat and racing. You can see some pictures of the racing for the boat fleets here.

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