Know Your Mode
Know Your Mode
Observing your speed and height relative to boats around you is only half the battle. The other half is knowing how to make adjustments as conditions change. "Boatspeed" from our November/December 2010 issue. "Boatspeed" from our November/December 2010 issue.
Putting together the tuning, the controls, and the information feed needed to maintain top boatspeed will require processing the type of information that is being reported, and knowing how to quickly change modes. Below is a cheat sheet on the types of modes you can have with other boats on the racecourse and some general rules to make good adjustments. All boats are different, and it is important to understand which controls have the fastest, most dramatic changes.
Report: “We’re lower, same speed to the boat to leeward.”
Remedy: Power up by easing controls; most immediate would be backstay or vang. Ease controls incrementally. Observe any changes. You could also try trimming a touch harder, heading up slightly, and converting speed into height.
Report: “We’re lower, slower.”
Remedy: Ease controls and make observations. If that doesn’t work, you may need to consult your tuning guide and re-measure shroud tension and mast rake.
Report: “We’re higher, slower.”
Remedy: You most likely need to depower and convert some of your height into speed. Harden vang, cunningham, or backstay, and ease the traveler down. Ease the sheets slightly and put the bow down as well. If you’re trying to maintain a lane with a boat to leeward and ahead, or if you are attempting to work your way to more pressure, you can stay in this mode and not change a thing.
Report: “We’re lower and faster.”
Remedy: You need to convert some of your speed into height and power up your sails. Try less vang, backstay, or cunningham, and bring the traveler up a bit. Try a slightly tighter trim. fis could be an OK mode, tactically, if you’re struggling with the boat to weather, or if you want to roll a boat to leeward.
Report: “We’ve got same height, same speed.”
Remedy: No changes required. Maintain this mode and be ready to convert some of your speed or height if needed in a tactical situation.
Report: “We’re higher and faster.”
Remedy: No changes required, but be ready to convert the height-to-speed relationship when needed.
Report: “We’re higher, same speed.”
Remedy: No changes required, but be ready to convert the height to speed relationship when needed.
Knowing and understanding your relative mode is often like hitting a trick shot in golf; once you can hit the ball straight, then you can start to work on your fade or draw. Once you have established a good baseline tune on your boat, then you can start to play around with your controls and change your mode for a given condition, either matching the height and speed with the boats nearest to you, or even better, sailing for the coveted higher and faster mode. To always know your mode and have the ability to change it, you must have a clear understanding of how the controls and sail trim affect the overall performance of the boat, and have clear observations about your speed and height.