Staying fast through the transitions

Published on March 19th, 2015

When Mike Ingham’s team won the 43-boat Thistle Midwinters East (Mar 2-6), their top-five score line led to a 27 point victory. As Mike reflects on the event, he sees their consistency was rooted in gear shifting. Here he explains…

US Sailing President and long-time Thistle sailor Tom Hubbell hosted his extensive coaching program at the event, in which he paired us up with one of enrolled teams for one-on-one on the water coaching. After racing one day, I went sailing with the team I was paired with and was impressed how well they did once they locked into a condition.

But then the conditions would change a little and it took them a few boat lengths to settle into the new mode before they were sailing well again. This got me to thinking that we were not really any faster than some of the other teams, but perhaps we recognized and adapted to changing conditions quicker.

Perhaps the biggest mistake I saw among teams with changing gears is when they leaned in to keep the boat from healing to weather even though the main was not trimmed in all the way. Suppose it is blowing 12kts and everyone is hiked full with the main eased 6″ to keep the boat flat, then a lull decreases the wind to 10kts.

Often I see teams start to lean in, yet their main is still out. Instead, the driver should remind the team that they are still in “full hike mode” and trim in. Not until the main is fully trimmed should the driver say “balance boat mode” releasing the team to move instead of hiking full.

Mike breaks down the steps they use to stay fast through the transitions: click here

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