Starting thoughts

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Merrily, Jun 22, 2007.

  1. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    I sailed at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay last night. This was the first Laser sailing in over three weeks for me. Yes, I was getting antsy! The air was light, which is highly unusual here in the summer and unfortunate for me. I had only brought my Radial from Ohio, and in addition, I’ve put on some pounds during my travels. So it was hopeless to begin with. I had a fantastic time anyway. I met Sorosz and Ralfeez from TLF, which really made me feel at home. The Thursday night sailing was friendly and when I was out on the water, at times, zenlike. It feels great, but this is a problem for me--I go into this fantastic relaxed zone of doing and not thinking, but I don’t yet have the experience to be doing correctly. This is especially a problem at the start. So here’s the question: What do you do for a great start? I’m not asking necessarily for things like Vanderbilt starts or sitting on the line. I’m asking for your state of mind and how you attain it. How do you maintain the right balance of aggression and thought? What are you thinking and feeling at the starting line?
     
  2. jamesfreedman

    jamesfreedman New Member

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    I think it best to be in the game while others are not. You can get your mindset from taking line sites on both sides - pin and committee. Take a head shot for the windward mark. Go upwind get your rig setup for the conditions, take some compass readings on both starboard and port tack. See how the wind is oscliating, shifts occuring at random or at a specific time like say every five minutes. Grab a buddy and boatspeed with them to make sure your setup is working, and also get the feel of boatspeeding for the start that is coming up. I do this all the way up to about 2 and a half minutes to the start to stay busy and not get tired sleepy or zone out on nothing, STAY BUSY. This was taught to me by a guy I raced J22's with. He had this attitude and it really helped us in a few world events. So i have adopted it as well.
     
  3. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    OK so you test the wind and configure your rig, etc up to 2 and a half minutes to keep focused. Sounds like good advice. What happens in your brain after that? How do you maintain focus then?
     
  4. jamesfreedman

    jamesfreedman New Member

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    Mainly boat positioning. It is important to keep your eyes open below and behind your boat when fighting for position. I try to maintain my bow position ahead of the boat to windward, also try to stay right next to the windward boat. I am also checking both line sights on the line if I can to make sure I am taking up any line sag if any. Adrenaline is pumping at the starts for me. I want to focus also on the hole to leeward and maintaining it. That hole is the most important factor in my start. Anytime a boat sails close to me I want to point the bow at them while my sail is luffing. This will appear to make the hole smaller. When they sail on I work back on getting up on the boat to windward, always keeping the bow ahead. You must fight for your position at all times, otherwise I will take it.
     
  5. madyottie

    madyottie Apprentice

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    I'm actually the exact opposite. I try to stay very relaxed and just chill, hang back a bit and observe how the rest of the fleet is looking, until about 2 to 2-1/2 minutes out. By watching a lot, I can usually pick where the holes will be, by the way the others are sailing. I then get the hole that I think is toward the best end, or if I'm in doubt, will try to get right by the pin.

    In my experience, and this is just me, IF I get really worked up at the start, I will still get a good start, but then do something stupid half way up the first beat!

    Again this is just me, but I find I sail better if I'm just a little bit rushed in my preparation, although I know most people find the exact opposite. If I get out really early, I seem to get almost "out of synch" with the boat.

    Needless to say, I do best when the start is not too far away from the slipway!
     
  6. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    So it helps you to by keyed up, but you don't use that energy to sail. You use it to observe. I'm not sure that that would work for me until I understand better what I'm observing. Maybe this is the problem, there is so much going on that I can't process it all. The answer maybe for me is to focus on learning well each aspect of the start and sort going through a checklist. I do that somewhat now, but get timid to get up to the line, but that's not the only thing going on. I just don't feel focused.
     
  7. Mawill

    Mawill New Member

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    Hello,

    IMO - the start is more of an art form than a science. There is no real formula and each one is different (that is what I think makes them fun). Since they are all different, the way you set up for them is different.

    For example - if you are in a huge fleet then sitting back and watching may leave you with no options and no way to get into the first wave - so you have to do all the set up way ahead of time. Leaving things like sighting the favored end and shoosing a spot (ie CB, Pin or middle) will become much more stressfull the longer you wait.
    If you are in a smaller fleet with a big line and lots of room, then I think it is still important to get all that set up, but you have more time and flexibility.

    I used to get all worked up at the starts and be almost shaking by the time the gun went. I usually had a great start, but would make mistakes later on in the race. When the start was bad, I had no mental ability to get back into the race. I also found that my starts were becoming more monotonous and similar - Starboard Tack, Committe Boat End - Blah Blah Blah - Boring.

    So a coach said - Starts are like Ethnic Food, You'll never know until you try. So I started trying all sorts of stupid things. Port Tack, Shooting the line, dipsy doodles. It was more fun than anything.

    To me this taught me more about how to get my self into the game and dealing with the constantly changing environement better. Of course, all this experimenting cost something - 8 times out of 10 it would suck and I would be at the back of the fleet clawing my way back (which also teaches you a lot). But the 2 times that something worked were SOOO SATISFYING. I will never forget Port Tacking the entire fleet at CORK - best feeling ever!

    So I would say relax, be prepared in knowing the favored end, and try new things! Just don't forget your chopsticks!

    Matt
     
  8. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    My starts are so bad that I'm usually at the back of the fleet. :( Trying things sounds like the way to go, but I think maybe I'm too relaxed. I need to get hyped up just the right amount--focused but not so much that I can't focus later. You've given me the idea to have fun with it, be playful. I will "bring my chopsticks." What the heck is a dipsy doodle?
     
  9. hmiller

    hmiller Member

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    I think you need more practice.

    I suggest you come out to Eastwood Lake (in Dayton) during the week and race with us. We do lots of short races. Couple of laps around the course then start again. Best of all, no one keeps score. Follow this all up with beer. It's a great way to spend an evening.
     
  10. Mawill

    Mawill New Member

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    He he -

    That is a patented starting technique developed by your truly. It involves sailing all over the starting area looking as though you have a truly diabolical starting plan and throwing your fellow starters into a questioning mode thereby winning the psychological war!!! Don't tell too many people though or it won't work!

    But really, it is a name that I gave to sailing around the starting area trying to keep at top speed the whole time and make it to the line on time. It really sharpens up the boat handling in a large fleet and you'll learn an awful lot about rules that way!! Just don't do it on big wind days when you are likely to do significant damage ;-) It also makes you really good at judging time and distance.

    Matt

    What you may want to do is to get a group of you to go out and just run starts all morning. Do 2 minutes starts with a SINGLE WHISTLE at 2 minutes and everyone is on there own from there. Set a windward mark about 20 boat lengths upwind just to see what the effects of how you started play out. It will make things much clearer.
     
  11. jamesfreedman

    jamesfreedman New Member

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    Very good advice Matt. When I sailed with team LYRA that is what our coaches had us do everyday during practice 10 hours a day. Back then I was so in tune with Lasers and boat handling, and actually had way better start then I do today. I use to win every start but now im a work in progress.
     
  12. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Brmmm Brmmm

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    From the time I leave for the regatta, I am alone. I shut everything and everybody out except the boat and the course.

    On the water early and "become a part of the boat".

    That seems to work best for me. Doesn't gaurantee that I'll win every start, but I think the clarity it produces up's my chances. I feel neither up or down.
     
  13. ralfeez

    ralfeez New Member

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    Merrily,
    It was great to meet up with you and John. I hope that you can make it out again soon. Get that house finished so that you can play more.
    As far as starts, I am also on a steep learning curve but I tend to have 4 out of 5 being pretty good starts. As for the rest of my game, well that's another story. If you take last night for an example, the line was plenty long enough to find a good hole. The wind, what there was of it, was quite shifty and so no real side was preferred. I pick a spot and I have a plan of action prior to the one minute mark. Now, my goal is to be very fluid. Just be ready to change plans if you need to. You can never guess what others will do next, so don't even try. Don't get into a duel with someone unless you really don't have a choice and you have to exert your rights. Several of the sailors last night, lost the race before they even got started because they pushed each other over the line early. I pick a spot with as much clean air as I can get and with 10 seconds left, shoot for speed.
    If the wind is a bit stronger than we had it, you can always do a practice start or two prior to the real one. Just make sure that you can get back into position with plenty of time left.
    In regards to mindset, I just have fun. Seriously, we are not in this sport to become the next Olympic gold medalist. I am doing this for a release from every day life. I joke with others on the line. I pretend like I am diving below them just to see them get riled up, I complement them on good races or moves, and I smile a lot when I beat them to the first mark. It is all good whether you are first or last, just have fun with it. This philosophy will make everything a lot easier to wrap your mind around.
    Ralph
     
  14. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the invite and it sounds like fun. Really, I have plenty of people and time to practice. But maybe a change of scene would help. I'll think about it when I return home!
     
  15. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Ralph, now I feel really bad. :mad:

    Ha ha, fooled you! How am I doing for fun? ;)

    I saw that there were lots of openings. It's getting up to them in a timely fashion that eludes me, and I think it has to do with fear. Yeah, I know the right of way rules, but I think I need way more practice using them. The who said 10 hours a day sounds about right. BTW, please no one start yelling at me to get up to the line if you race with me. That really interferes with my train of thought.

    I hope to make it back to TI next Thursday. It was a really nice evening.
     
  16. ralfeez

    ralfeez New Member

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    Merrily,
    Come out early and I will invite some people to do practice starts. If we could set up a really tight line and just run through some starts, then that will help you a lot I think. The best thing is that no one will be yelling if you mess up. We are just out there for fun.
    Ralph
     
  17. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Brmmm Brmmm

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    Sailing has been a lot of things to me but I never considered it "fun". In fact I don't think I'm capable of treating it as "fun". lol.

    Somehow I miss the fun stage and carry on to some other description.

    What am I missing out on? :D lol.
     
  18. Mawill

    Mawill New Member

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    Perhaps you are missing out on some libation - some liquid lubricant.

    Chainsaw,

    Most sad to hear you are not having fun! Here are some tips (Assuming you are old enough - otherwise - .... umm -- just don't.

    I find a water bottle full of dark and stormies on the way to the course really loosens one up. By the time you get to the start - even a root canal would be fun!

    By the way, best of luck to ETNZ tomorrow. Have the recorder all set. Plan on heating up a bottle for the little one and plopping in front of the couch for 3 hours of sailing crack!

    Matt
     
  19. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Ralph,
    I would love to do that if you can make it happen.
    Thanks,
     
  20. whirlwind2

    whirlwind2 New Member

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    I'm not an expert, but it sounds to me like Chainsaw is taking the "Inner Game" approach. One never feels emotion; when you win you aren't happy and when you lose you aren't sad. You are viewing what happens completely objectively, and you're really focused. I think that in the long run this will make you a really, really good sailor, but it also just depends on the individual. Of course, having fun is always more fun.:)

    If this doesn't make sense, or I sound like I'm crazy, you should read The Inner Game of Tennis, it's a really good book, and it's not just specific to tennis.
     

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