Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Over-analysis

"I think you're over-analyzing," my younger son told me when he called me on Sunday evening to wish me a happy Father's Day and I started to tell him why I thought I had done so badly in the regatta this weekend.

He may be right.

So here is my account of day 2 of the Saltmarsh Trophy Regatta in which I will attempt to avoid over-analysis. I'll just give you my gut feelings about why stuff happened.

It was a cool, drizzly, light east wind kind of day. It was decided to delay rigging until the rain stopped which was promised by noon. About half an hour after noon it was still raining. So we rigged in the rain. We sailed out to the course in the rain. In honor of the cooler weather I was wearing my famous sailing socks.

The first race went off in a lull. I started near the committee boat, tacked on to port right away and was soon in better pressure as I headed directly away from the shore. I checked out the fleet and saw that I was leading the pack going right and looking good compared to the pack going left in the lighter winds near the shore. I can't really discuss tides without being accused of over-analysis but I figured that they would help me too.

About three-quarters up the first beat I decided to dig back in to the middle. I had my reasons but to tell you them would be over-analysis. I was crossing the usual fleet leaders ... everyone it seemed except that rogue former All-American out on the left. As it always does, things started to go downhill a bit for me in the top quarter of the beat and one day when I'm in a mood for over-analysis I'll write a post on that topic too.

In any case I rounded the windward mark up with "the names". You know, those guys who always win the regattas in this district. Downwind I was going well, hanging in there with the names and extending my lead over that guy. I should note why I was fast downwind in these conditions but that would be over-analysis.

Anyway I ended up finishing with my best result of the regatta, just behind that other guy, so he was happy too. Gut feeling as to why? The socks of course

Race 2. Total disaster. Tried the same strategy. Right was wrong. Left was right. Rounded the windward mark at the back of the fleet with some kid and one of the Newport fleet regulars. Downwind things got worse.

After the racing I was commiserating with aforementioned Newport sailor and asked if he had noticed that even "that kid lolling in the back of the cockpit with his feet in the air" was faster than us downwind? He had, and pointed out that "that kid with a loose traveler up and down-wind" was also faster than us on the run. Gut feeling as to why? Not socks.

The race committee attempted to start a third race. Huge wind shift. General recall. More rain. Threatening clouds. RC abandoned racing for the day.

The RC was holding out cans of beer so I took one and drank it while we sailed in. Cleated the mainsheet. Tiller in one hand. Can of beer in the other. I was chatting to that other guy but, all of a sudden, I noticed I was sailing so much faster than him. By the time we arrived back at the beach I was 200 yards ahead of him. He wasn't drinking a beer while he sailed.

Now I don't want to over-analyze but there's something about this sailing one-handed while drinking beer that's really fast...

3 comments:

David said...

Dang, I was hoping to learn something at your expense. Please over analyze next time. We really do want to know why you were so slow (or fast.) OK, maybe that beer thing is a good tip. Just loosen up and let the boat go, eh?

Anonymous said...

Maybe all the racing lessons you've taken, drills you've done, sailing books you've read, and self-reflecting blog entries you've written are stopping you from seeing the forest for the trees (water for the waves, winds for the gusts, whatever).

Do you think a professional bowler worries about the gusts from the central air and the size of the wood grain two lanes over from him, or does he just roll the big round ball towards the pins?

When you cleated the main, drank the beer and stopped analyzing the situation, you started going faster. Maybe you should have that beer on the sail out to the course (it works for bowlers). And if that fails, it's time to buy new equipment.

You have a younger son!?

tillerman said...

I think there's a lot of truth in what you say anonymous. Lessons, practice, reading, analysis are all important... but when it's time to sail it's time to switch into autodrive and just let it happen.

Yes, I have two sons. One is younger than the other. So he is the younger son. Why does that merit a "!"?

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