beating upwind in 20knts.

Thread starter #1
this summer at the junior olympics, the second day of racing was continued through about 20 knt winds. the upwind leg of this one race was pretty long but by the time i had reached it in the mid position of my fleet. the leading boat was already at the pin. now how does someone beat me by that much?? i asked my coach and she said that he one because his boat was flat. she also reminded me of the ease hike and trim method. but could these simple factors lead up to such a big lead. i need your help so this won't happen again. tips and suggestions would be great.

no, i don't think that just doing that would get a person THAT big a lead. i think the probale cause of such a lead was A) good start and B) choose the right side of the course to hit, and C) what you mentioned
Bear in mind that in 20knots, the downwind legs are very quick.
Also remember the whole "leverage" thing. Imagine two boats beating that are about 10m apart, both experience a 10º shift left. The boat on the left gains on the right hand boat. Now imagine them 100m apart, the distance gained is 10 times as much so if you both went different sides up the beat and he got a favouarable shift, plus favourable current, plus more wind, plus a flatter boat, plus better wave technique, plus better tacks, a huge lead is quite beleivable in such strong winds.
1) Good Start

2) Heading and meeting the waves correctly...if not done correctly each one slows you down.

3) Clean Air.....this is a huge advantage when your at the front. And knowing how to get it when your in the pack is a tactical must know.

4) Knowing what kind of wind pattern is filling and corresponding current...and how they effect the lay of the course, in my oppinion most sailors ignore this important factor. However if you take the time to improve your reading abilities I guarentee a better feeling at the end of every regatta. :cool:
Thread starter #5
2) Heading and meeting the waves correctly...if not done correctly each one slows you down.
what is the correct way to meet waves, angle them off??

hey thanx everyone for all the info!! YOU GUYS ROCK!
since i joined this forum i feel i have learned so much that this summer i'll be kicking my teammate's areses!! ;) haha!

thanx again!
Originally posted by macwas16
what is the correct way to meet waves, angle them off??

hey thanx everyone for all the info!! YOU GUYS ROCK!
since i joined this forum i feel i have learned so much that this summer i'll be kicking my teammate's areses!! ;) haha!

thanx again!

Head up into the wave....power through the crest then bear off a bit down the back side........then up and flat in the throff (sp). On small waves the whole action can take a mere second or two....but if done correctly can provide great flexability and speed.

Twisting Stern soulder back control's the angle of bow attack......keeping the plow controlled. Forward shoulder twisting increases water line when the water is calm or flat. The idea is to keep the boat powered up in big swell and by not allowing the boats bow to burry your not slowing the boat down and your also keeping much more control. It's all about's the key. The more control you have the more choises you have in your arsenal.

Get the LaserCoach 2000 will be the best money you'll ever spend since getting your laser. Video clips of the best doing it ....the right way and fast. Awesome action.
Strategy and Tactics

Before, the race, plan out a basic strategy which you can flesh out and modify later, as more information becomes available on the water. Look at tides and currents, assessing which areas of the course have favourable or less adverse currents. Look to find the areas of best wind speed or favourable wind bends in bays and arounf headlands. Decide on a favoured side of the course for the upwind leg: Left, Middle or Right. You then need to assess the wind fluctuations - is the wind oscillating? is there going to be a permanent wind shift? It is during the pre-start time that your risk assessment has to begin. Remember:

1) The further away from the fleet you are, the more you stand to gain and lose. You could gain miles or lose just as much.

2) The further away from the middle of the course you stray, and the closer to the lay lines you get, the more your tactical options are cut down: once on the layline you can't tack without seriously damaging your race.

3) If you sail the windshifts correctly up the middle of the course, but keeping just to the favoured side, you can gain nearly as much as sailing to the corner and tacking onto the layline miles from the top mark.

This shows that to win a series (which requires consistent results) you need conservative tactics based around this game plan:


To break this down:


Get a good start, and practice your starts often to get them up to scratch so you start at the front of the fleet with good speed and in the right place. This requires excellent boat handling, knowledge of the rules, knowledge of your ability, pre-start consideration of your race startegy.

Off the start line you need boat speed to stay in the pack (hiking hard with as much power as you can handle) and clear air as well as the freedom to tack.

Practice will improve your starting technique and anybody who doesn't use a countdown timer: Get one.



This means keeping them under wraps, making sure you stayy between the majority and the next mark.

Obviously, only one boat is in the lead and the odds are agibnst that boat being you. So as well as making sure you stay ahead of the boats behind you, attack the boats in front. Sail the shifts better, sail faster (hike harder, steer through the waves better - put more effort in) but don't initiate a tacking duel if you dont have to becasue that will let the boats behind you catch up.

Simply: Take control of the race.

What if you are miles behind everyone else?

You have two options: Skill or Fluke.
You can either sail what you think is the best strategy while sialing as fast as you can to the best of your ability to try and catch up with the boats infront.


Take risks. If they pay off, you catch up, if they fail, you lose even more. THis means sailing to the lay lines early and taking the corners.

Both methods have their supporters - the deciding factor is your gambling spirit...

To sum up:

1) Sailing is a game of risk management - more risk = more potential gains + more potential losses. Less Risk = Consistency. No Risk = Losing every race.

2) The start is an area of the race which gives you a huge potential advantage - a head start on the other boats so practice your starts. if you start first, you at least have a chance - in sailing, it is easier to keep a lead than it is to gain one.
The Right Hand Side

More from Will.....

It is amazing to talk to sailors who don't realise the advantage of the right hand side of the upwind leg.

RRS state Starboard Tack has right of way over Port Tack.

Therefore, if you are within a boat length of an opponent, you can turn that into a 1.5 boat length lead by keeping to the right of them when beating.

This means you come into the last cross (on the starboard layline) with you on starboard, forcing them to duck you.

This only works at the end of a beat in fleet racing but if you really need to get ahead of aboat close infront: get right of them.

For proof of this tactic, watch the first leg of the Americas Cup challenger series (Louis Vuitton Cup) Round Robin 2 match of Prada VS GBR Challenge. GBR start a boat length behind and get round the top mark first for one reason: they enter the last cross on starboard.


Are there any tv stations where I can watch the Louis ....
Any websites that live web broadcast or non-live webcasts.
Thread starter #11

goonie...oln - its some outdoors channel but i dont know if they hav it in canada. big races - espn or espn2

hey will thanks so much! but like usual i still have more questions.

1. lets say you are at the start. all the boats are coming across the line on starboard . what i usually do, is become what i call boat 1.5. (surely we all know that boat 1 is to windward in ahead, 2 is windward and behind, 3 is leeward and ahead, 4 is leeward and behind.) i call it so because i always duck under the commitee boat and am the boat the boat closest to the wind although tied with everyone else - that is the .5 haha. now i see alot of other people try to cross at the exact midpoint of the line. am i doing something wrong or is it because they want to be boat 1 of the boats favouring the left side of the course??

2. one time i picked the left side and i went all the way out to the lay line where the first heat of lasers were coming back downwind heading for the pin. there i tacked and had a straight shot to the windward mark after ducking some starboards. when i finished, my coach said that i went WAY to far to the left. How do i know when i am going to far? i mean that race i only taked maybe 4 times on that leg.


Outdoor LIFE NETWORK!!! ITS CANADIAN!! !YES!!!! Hey Mac. I think you should start a Louis... Thread where you tell everyone of upcoming races. You can be our inside man! Please!
How far is too far?

By going to the left corner, you risked way too much. Your coach is suggesting that you limit your risks and tack more times, sticking closer to the midline of the beat (line from top mark to bottom mark/start line) becasue obviously, your risk didn't pay off. Also, imagine a olympic triangle, marks to port. You are way behiond the front of the fleet or you are sailing a radial so te full rigs are way ahead. If you go up the left, you are gonna be blanketed by the wind shadow caused by the string of boats reaching to the gybe mark, all on starboard, sailing pretty close to the port layline.

My usual stategy unless in exceptional circumstancss when i can be sure of a gain to be made near one corner, is to play the shifts, stay on lifters and tack on headers, this needs a compass to be effective. This gets me to the top mark (in my radial) in front of 80% of the radial fleet and in front of 30% of the full rig fleet. The 20% of radials ahead took a big riak which paid off. The 30% full rigs beind are either rubbish or took a risk that lost out. Both these groups took the corners. Getting to the top mark in the top 20%, after a conservative startegyputs you in a good postition in the whol series of you get that consistently becasue the 20% ahead are always different boats.
thats pretty good. i never realized that going left would get blanketed. then again, on LIS with the horrible JSA (Junior Sailing Association), they start the standards, then 420's, then Radials, all about 5-10 minutes apart.
Properties of Olympic Triangles

Most club races arebased on the olympic triangle idea since with mixed fleets, it gives the best racing for the majority and is not compex for the RC to set up. Even if your club does not race triangle-sausage-triangle, the principles and ideas can be applied elsewhere. Throughout, the normal marks to port is assumed.

Sides of the Upwind Leg

As mentioned in the previous posts, the left will be blanketed at the top end by boats in the fleet ahead or boats that are faster.

Also, the right hand side gives you a starboard advantage at the end of the leg.

Both these are not important at the start since most choose to approach the top mark along the starboard layline because of the right hand side advantage, the lower risk (approach on port and you may have to duck/gybe around) and the lack of boats in front of you taking your wind.

It is important to stress at this point that:

1) This applies at the top of the beat and on a reasonably long course, there is potential for working towards the left hand side and then still approaching the top mark from the right.

2) This natural bias towards the right hand side is easily contered by a higher wind velocity or more favouable current over on the left.

i.e: Don't go right at the start just to be on the right hand side to avoid the blanketing and gain a starboard advantage. Think about the wind speed/direction across the course and the tide/current.

It is also important to note that as all the boats converge on the top mark so leverage decreases. See previous posts for explanation of leverage. So the two reasons that make the right hand side advantageous only provide an advantage when the boats are close together at the top mark.

The Reaching Legs

Points to remember are:

1) RRS 18 - overlaps at marks. Get inside to get round in front.

2) Other RRSs - know your luffing rights and don't infringe others'.

3) Get the boat moving fast. Now is the time that the course is testing your boat speed since all the boats are close and sailing the same course, strategical gains are almost zilch and tactics only come into play if you have the speed to get past the boat infront. This means working on hull trim, sail trim, rig set up. Time on the water, getting used to your boat, will improve these.

4) RRS 42 - Don't infringe but do take advantage of what it allows.

When catching up on another boat with a view to overtaking:

The easiest way to slip past is to get an inside overlap at the gybe mark or bottom mark and get round infront. This however relies on being close to the next mark.

Otherwise, you have two options: Pass to windward or leeward.

Passing to windward will give you more speed (clear air) but they will be able to luff you and passing to leeward you will be blanketed.

You will not get past a laser to leeward unless you are planing in a gust. In light winds youwill be stopped dead if you go close so always leave room.

Passing to windward: In a lull, point up and get well above the boat infront, then as the next gust hits, bear off and fly past. This means you have speed and you are far enough to windward to render a luffing duel useless if not impossible.

Make use of waves and gusts to go faster:

Head up in lulls and down in gusts while catching waves to get you planing.
Is Beating Upwind in 22kts OK?

Today we raced two races, the first of which was a steady 22kts and the second was marginally less at about 15kts. The following points got me to the top mark first and before the full rigs (I sail a radial):

1) All Sail Controls Tight. That means cunningham grommet down to the gooseneck, kicker tight enough so the boom goes out not up, outhaul tight as possible or a slight slackening if your heavy and mainsheet block to block.

2) Hike Like H***. Buy some hiking pants if you need them. Get yourself fit and keep hiking flat out. Find a flat out position that gives you a "locked in" feeling and is comfortable. (This is possible believe it or not.) Set your toestrap right to improve comfort.

3) Remember Everyone Else is Tired. You're not the only one who's finding it tough. Keep that in your head.

4) Tack at the Right Times. Tack on the shifts so you sail a shorter course (you spend less time hiking them and you get to the mark first giving you an adrenalin boost (if the forthcoming reach hasn't already done so...)) and it will give your thighs a break.

5) Tack Well. In strong winds, it is easy to get stuck head to wind during a tack so go in with speed and initiate the turn when you are on the crest of a wave. (This means the boat turns easily and the next wave knocks your bow to the new side and not vica versa.) Hike fast and hard ASAP to pull the boat flat.

6) Sit in the Right Place. If the waves are big, hike from about 25-30cm (10-12in) behind the mainsheet cleats to allow the bow to lift over the waves.

7) Steer Through the Waves. Use the tiller to point up going up a wave and bear off on the other side. Also, sail through gaps in the waves and try to avoid the really big ones.

That is how I got through the first upwind leg of the race today.
On the hull, next to the board, I wrote "Everyone else is tired!" in big red letters (using a dry wipe marker.) Try this, some people find it helpful.

Keep in mind that "flat boat = a fast boat" and that just around the next corner is either a supersonic reach/run during which the physical effort is not great and the speed/excitement is awesome.
Thread starter #18
keeping a boat flat is hard for me and my small body wieght. by the end of the day i feel as though i have done 5000 crunches. oh yes, one day i will be ripped ;). ripped = very strong = 6 pack
Make sure your sail is as depowered as possible. This means everything as tight as possible. If you still have problems, raising the centreboard a couple of inches will decrease the heeling of the boat but you will slip to leeward more. This means you sail a longer distance but you will go faster since you will be flat. It's another of those classic sailing trade-offs. When I said sailing was a game of risk management/assessment, I should have added:

"Sailing's also a game of trade-offs"

Because that's what gives us the principle of an upwind leg and its pandora's box full of tactics and strategy...