Make diversity the theme for 2014

Published on November 5th, 2013

By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
An occasional rant in Scuttlebutt is the lack of race course diversity at typical buoy regattas. Whereas race courses once presented an array of mark choices (yes, back in the day), the options now have been deduced to how many laps around the windward-leeward track.

A day of racing used to present a multitude of mental moments. Finding marks, anticipating wind angles, choosing sails, moving leads, estimating wind patterns, etc. However, what we have mastered now is the art of determining what works in the first lap, and then refining it on ensuring laps until the finish.

The windward-leeward course is, for sure, the championship course. The problem is that not every weekend is a championship. An occasional dose of diversity makes life interesting. We do this elsewhere in our lives; why not amid our recreation?

For the three day Annapolis Big Boat Fall Regatta this past weekend, I was stunned at what I read in the race recap…

Day 1: A distance race with an intermediate scoring gate worth 1 point at the midpoint. With a forecast of brisk 20-25 knot winds, a long 44-mile course was signaled, but when the wind dropped out quickly so that the time limit could not be met for the long race, only the intermediate race could be scored. Still, it was something different.

Day 2: After a long postponement only one windward-leeward race could be completed on a shortened course.

Day 3: Solid 15-22 knot conditions allowed for three buoy races, with the last race being an innovative course that included some reaching under jib and spinnaker, placing a premium on excellent crew work at the turning marks.

Diversity… two of the three days had diversity!

Perhaps in this era of trying to get more people out to sail, organizers may use an occassional non W/L course more and more. As was found in Annapolis, it produced close results, perhaps because the reaching reduced the advantages enjoyed by the elite teams and their shift-sniffing tacticians.

Diversity baby… make it the theme for 2014.

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