Win the battles to win the war

Published on June 7th, 2018

If you google “half the battle”, there’s no shortage of inspirational quotes. One of the popular sentiments is how “half the battle is just showing up”, and as Adam Loory of UK Sailmakers reminds, not quitting may be the other half.

I sailed in a local club’s 21.5-mile race around government marks. The conditions started out in a 20-knot easterly with 3-foot waves and, after a couple of hours, the wind dropped and got very shifty leaving a lot of wind holes on the course.

We got behind early by being late at the start as we were straightening out a rigging issue. The boat that got out in front was a Farr 395 with the same PHRF rating as my Roger Martin custom designed 40-footer SOULMATES. Upwind we could not make up any of the lost time, but on the six-mile run we closed the gap to just a few boat lengths.

When the wind went forward, however, our competition did a better job getting their jib up and chute down. Quickly they had another big jump on us. To add insult to injury, we got rolled by a Swan 42 One-Design allowing the Farr 395 to extend even more. But a decision I made started luck to turn in our favor when I had our bowman change from the 2A that had been rigged for the flat reaching spinnaker (3A).

The two leaders went with their runners, and while sailing under the shore, the wind kept going forward and we made good gains. Every time they sailed into holes, they had a harder time getting their big sails filled again. Finally, they both stopped dead inside the zone of the final mark of the course.

The Farr 395 had led the race for 21 miles but was dead in the water. We came charging in on a puff and our tactician smartly said to fall off and sail to leeward of both the Farr and the Swan. As we coasted under the Swan, close enough to reach out and touch them, we hoisted the jib and dropped the chute. We popped out in front of both boats and turned toward the finish line a half mile away. The Farr initiated a tacking duel and we loosely covered. At the finish, we were two minutes ahead.

Lesson learned: don’t give up the race. Keep going full on until the finish line has been crossed. After all, in sailboat racing you can make some of your own luck, especially in races other than windward-leewards.

Comment: I hope Adam’s comment in how there’s more opportunity in races other than windward-leewards is heard. Participation occurs when people feel they have an opportunity, so if there is interest in increasing participation, than there should be consideration given to alternative race courses. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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