The Truth Of Kinetics
The Truth Of Kinetics
Good kinetics will enhance the natural action of wind and waves, but only to a point. The essence of getting it right is to go for quality over quantity. "From the Experts" for our April 2010 issue
Good kinetics connect smoothly to the stream of power propelling the boat, even if they are very intense. For this to happen there must be a transition at the beginning and end of the action. While these transitions are brief, it's important they're done smoothly. Trim through the pumps. They should start slowly, rapidly accelerate, and then slow toward the end. By trimming through the pump, the accelerating force lasts longer, giving the boat an opportunity to use the force to accelerate, and trim pumps are far less disruptive to the sails and foils.
It's important to recognize that no pumping is faster than bad pumping. The key is to focus on quality not quantity. Minimize failed attempts by improving your table setting technique and be selective. If an attempt to reach launch speed doesn't quite make it, then pass on the kinetics, stay with the high average, and wait for the next wave.
Assuming you've achieved launch speed, the boat will accelerate with the hike and subsequent or simultaneous pump. Resist the temptation to turn down the wave immediately. If the boat is still accelerating, don't turn away from the pressure unless you are certain you're on a path to maximize your wave ride. Too often, sailors turn down prematurely and end up stalling in the trough, after which the wave they were riding promptly passes by.
When in wave-riding (as opposed to wave-passing) conditions, your mission is to remain on the wave as long as possible. You must be aware of your path down the wave. The more you are sailing across the wave face, the faster you have to go to stay with the wave and vice versa. While staying high will assure better pressure and higher speed potential, you might still lose the wave if you sail across the face too much. Most of the time the waves are asymmetric from jibe to jibe, so the optimum steering range varies.
If you are in wave passing conditions, your mission is to pass the wave ahead as quickly as possible, regardless of the how high you need to sail. Recognizing that you have the potential to pass waves is critical because you will need much more power to pass waves than to ride them. The boat needs to remain fully powered as you accelerate so that you will have both the speed and power to pass the next wave.
OK, that was a mouthful, and there is at least a full meal of kinetic technique on the table. Remember to focus on quality over quantity and always be smooth.
Pro Tip: Many Rule 42 penalties assessed by on-the-water judges are for ineffective actions. Poor technique is usually more provocative, often has a negative effect on performance, and can easily earn a penalty. The most effective technique in the majority of situations is perfectly legal. It is measured, efficient, and in harmony with the natural action of wind and waves on the sails, foils, and hulls.
Kinetics Sampler Platter
Many sailors assume that pumping and rocking are unskilled jobs that succeed primarily through brute force with little technique or finesse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Successful kinetics help minimize the negative effects of the extra mass of the crew on the boats performance in underpowered conditions. Just as a horseback rider learns to allow the horse to move beneath the rider, sailors learn to allow to the boat to move beneath them so the boat doesn't have to do as much work. In my April 2010 From the Experts column ("The Truth of Kinetics") I referred to my concept of "setting the table," for kinetics, and then "serving." Here are some specific examples.
Good table setting
Smooth, proactive steering
Maintain high average speed
Allow the boat to accelerate as prime pumping moment approaches (power up)
Keep helm balanced
Boat level or bow down
Sails pressured and stable
Sailors positioned to hike into the pressure that will be created by the rock or pump
Bad table setting
Reactive, rough steering
Boat speed spiking and crashing through the wave cycles
Pump when boat is slowest with bow in wave and sails heavily loaded
Helm loaded boat heels to leeward with increasing pressure, and sailors not responding to the boat's messages
Boat on backside of wave and bow up
Sails either over or under-pressured
Good serving technique
Hike into pressure before pumping
Trim through pumps
Measure the pump to the load. Don't overdo it
Maximize accelerate before turning down (or don't turn down at all)
Pump with boat level or bow down
Bad serving technique
Allow boat to heel to leeward as pumping force is applied
Jerky, staccato pumps
Always pumping as hard as possible
Turn down the wave as soon as acceleration is felt