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The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour, is that important time between the dock start and the gun. Leave early enough to get in an hour of serious sailing before the start.

Sailing out

  • Organize.
  • Head in the game. Throw some tacks to get everything working right.
  • Confirm your assumptions about the the weather and its effect on your race strategy.
  • Gather and confirm your tactical data.
  • Do at least 4 complete race-grade tacks.
    • Do a complete base line into and out of the tack.
    • Confirm your BET.
    • Establish the wind shear.
  • Check your speed against your polars.
  • If possible, hook up with some competition to fine tune your performance and target speed shading.
  • Assess sea state, wind shear and gradient and adjust the sail trim for it.

Planning the weather leg

We need answers these Big Questions

  • Is there a pattern to the weather that can be exploited?
    • Wind shifts; nonexistent? random? regular? short? long?
    • Estimate the time period and amplitude of the shifts. Set the Wind direction average to about 3 times the estimated period.
    • What is our BET? (See Tacking).
  • Is there a clear choice as to which side to favor? (This question should be revisited at each leeward rounding).
    • Local knowledge.
    • Sea breeze onset.
    • Frontal passage.

Planning the start

  • The start plan must protect the chosen side of the course.
  • Do we have enough confidence in our preparations and predictions to sail to attack now, or do we sail defensively and possibly attack later?
  • If not we must sail defensively, a cautious middle third of the line is all we need.
    • Let the others fight (risk) for starts at the ends of the line.
    • Use the tools that you have to avoid OSC; the ends of the line are a long way away. But this should provide an open lane, allowing you to wally up the center of the leg.
  • If we have a pattern to exploit.
    • Our start plan has to position the boat to take advantage of the information that we have collected.
    • This information will provide the confidence to fight for plan
    • How great is the speed potential of the boats on the starting line? One design or mixed fleet.
    • How can these differences be exploited? Turning radius, acceleration, way carrying ability? Find your competitive strength and exploit it.
    • The precision which you can answer each of these questions gives you a leg up.
    • The start plan is based specifically on the information that you collected during the Golden hour or the history recorded by the driver.
    • Only use Tactics to defend your strategy. Don’t lose sight of the prize.

At the starting line

  • Get wind direction/speed and note any trends.
  • Check ends of line for favored end and current.
  • Ping the ends of the line.
  • Set stopwatch for start using the Start page is Race verify your start line pings.
  • Be on the lookout for wind direction shifts beyond the Golden hour data.
  • The bad news is this may cause you to rethink the plan.
  • The good news is not everyone has figured it out yet.
  • Don’t show your cards

On the race course

  • Track shear to see if the plan is working.
  • Sail your course angles, work through each mark rounding.
  • Monitor magnetic wind direction to make adjustments to your evolutions.
  • Collect information on the amount of Shear.

 

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