Race the Course
One way to ensure your best finish is to get around the course as fast as you can. This seems rather obvious, but as other competitors enter the picture you are tempted to alter your original race plan and soon you find yourself playing follow the leader. One approach is to develop your race plan focused on racing the course and not your competitors; the course is the constant in the equation.
Before the start of the race you will see boats racing along with what seems to be enough speed to win the race. During the pre-race sailors sail their boats at maximum speed without regard to the course or other competitors. During a race, however, some sailors get distracted by competitors on the course, resulting in them adjusting their race plan and sailing less effectively.
This doesn’t mean you ignore the competitors completely, but you should only use them to gain an advantage on the course. Look at the competitors who are windward (upwind) of you to help judge the changes in the wind and on Barren River Reservoir there are plenty of them. The best way to help ensure a win is to sail at your boat around the course as efficiency as possible. This means tacking as soon as a shift occurs to take maximum advantage of a wind shift rather than waiting so that you can have an opportunity to disadvantage another boat. Of course you have to be mindful of the rules so you do not place yourself in a disadvantaged position, but this still allows you to race your plan and not someone else’s race plan. You can quickly lose control of your race plan when you start factoring in the variable of other boats. Remember, you can be fast enough to win as long as you spend more time going fast and sailing a shorter distance. Next month – Pinching the Wind