Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interesting wot we learn

I was running an Instructor Course last weekend and one of the exercises which we did was to sail some very heavily reefed boats in relatively light conditions.

I was surprised and amazed at how badly the group of experienced sailors did at sailing upwind, and even when I had a go I failed to sail very well. The problem appeared to be that we had an expectation of what the boat would do and how it would "feel". As a result we all had the mainsails pulled in bar tight when the boat was on a reach in the hope that we would get some sort of response/feel of the boat heeling.

We all failed to trim the sail appropriately, for the angle the boat was to the wind. It was all very well knowing that, with so little power to be had from the sail, sail set was vital. After a tack the boat would inevitably bear away onto a reach and you had to let the sail out to get forward propulsion. If you didn't the boat continued to move across the wind but with the centreboard stalled out so that there was no progress to windward. Everyone got caught out at some stage and since the boat was moving stayed stalled out - because there was no "feel" to the boat.

I'm sure there are implications for how we learn to sail. It was a very intriguing exercise.