Sunday, May 20, 2012

Races 9 and 10 - Heartbreak hotel

     Today was an emotional roller coaster. Sailed out to the course in less than 5 knots. Once everyone was out the race committee postponed and sent us back in. The mosh pit that happens when 135 lasers try to get their boats out of the water all at once with only 3 ramps is ridiculous. Every sailor is in their 'me first' attitude, boats bang into each other, people cut in front of each other, and waves from the coach boats are sloshing everyone around.
     They finally sent us back out after a mild sea breeze filled in.

Race 9 -
     I accelerated too late at the start and got rolled. Tacked out and went all the way right in to clear air. Some little shifts and better pressure in clear air allowed me to catch a lot of boats. I managed to stay to the side in clear air downwind, by the lee on starboard and moving pretty well with the waves. Upwind I stayed right again, in clear air, but tacking back to when I could. Same thing downwind to finish 9th. Pretty good after a horrible start.

Race 10 -
     My focus was to have a good start. I also had a pretty clear picture in my head that I wanted to start near the boat and go right. I figured I would start just far enough away from the boat to avoid a jam of boats, wait for the boats to the right of me to tack, and then I would tack too. I had my good start, I was where I wanted to be, but there were a few boats on my hip that wouldn't tack. I didn't really want to duck them, so I waited. We kept going and going, boats were ducking us, but then a few boats crossed us. I finally decided I was going to tack and duck those boats on my hip, but they tacked as I was going to duck them. Suddenly I was in a bad place in bad air and a discouraging feeling of doom set in. Probably should have tacked back to go left,  but I was so sure I had to go right. The bad just got worse and worse, the shifts weren't that big, and gains were hard to make. Got flagged by the judges for rocking downwind too and had to do circles. All in all a horrible race (49th).
     So, what can I learn from that?
First of all, it is painfully obvious to me looking at the scores how much a bad result like that counts, and how much better a mediocre result would have been. I was winning the silver fleet, and now I am 23 points behind the leader, 23 places at the back of the fleet are worth fighting for just as much as a few places at the front of the fleet. Its easy to be discouraged when I am so far back, and easy to be motivated when I am near the front. Next time, I have to remember how important it is to make those little gains even at the back of the fleet.
     Second, having a plan for the race is good, but I also need to give the plan weight so that if something is foiling the plan, I know whether to be open to changing that plan instead of forcing myself to follow it and risking a bad situation.
     Third, if I am on starboard and I want to tack but there are boats on my hip, my plan is to first yell to them to tack to see if I can get them to go. If they don't, then I have to know how important it is to me to go that way, and only tack if I think it is worth the risk that they might tack right on me.

I do have pictures to upload, but the internet connection is slow, so I'll get to it when I can. Expecting a good sea breeze for the last two races, so I am looking forward to them!

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