Words of Wisdom from Sunfish NAs/US Masters Champ Bill Brangiforte

What a GREAT writeup. All racers should read this - and save a copy to read in the future. I am going to reco to our President, Derek, that this be in the next issue of Windward Leg if Bill is ok with that. Chris
Thanks for your wow Bill! I am looking forward to frostbiting again in barrington in the fall. I will also be trying to get out to a handful of college regattas. In frostbiting, college sailing and the club sailing I do with my dad at cedar point yacht club we are always running short races that are usually less then 20 minutes. Do you have any tips on how to use those short course races to train for success for longer courses? Is it a completely different game plan or are you using the same general tactics from smaller series racing to larger regattas?

Good question Korey. The principles are the same; you want to be in the top third of the fleet after 3 mins of starting. In order to do this , you really want to beat the boats imediately to windward and leeward of you at the start. Practicing getting the boat up to speed after the gun may be the most important skill to gain in college and frostbite racing. If you have clear air, focus all your attention on going fast for those couple of minutes after the gun, then start looking around to decide when to tack. I really want to ask Amanda the things she has her kids look for right before and after the starts. Since their courses are so short and the fleets are so competitive, starts and the 3 minutes after are critical for success. After these first 3 minutes unfold, the rest of the race is often similar. Long courses cause the fleet to spread out more , but there is usually more boats, so the racing stays tight like a frostbite or college race,
Hi Bill,

Excellent WOW!! I'd like to hear more about top and bottom turns downwind. Are we talking short, slashing turns using a lot of rudder, or graceful arcs using body weight and heeling angle? Or a combination depending on wind speed and wave size?

I had always heard that you should minimize rudder use downwind due to drag, but is it ok if you expect to get a big boost in speed by getting on a wave?

Hi D

The top turn starts when you see a good wave to leeward. You basically just have to ease the sail. The boat will heel to weather (let it do this) and bear off. You should not have to use much rudder movement. You should now be going hard by the lee. Tell tales will be flowing backward. That is the easy part. The hard part is picking a time to come back up to a broad reach. When it looks like your wave is falling apart, it is time to transition back up. You must put the helm down to do this., but it should not fight you. You must also sheet in rapidly. This bottom turn puts you back on a broad reach ( tell tales flowing correctly) If the tiller fights you on the transition back up, your timing was off. Wave riding takes time to figure out., but is lots of fun. Lets hope for lots of SW breezes this winter to practice on.

I'm sailing pens around on my desk trying to visualize it. It all makes sense--I just never thought of it as top and bottom turns before. I think that will really help me get in tune with the timing of the waves. Thank you!