Waste Time Like a Pro
Waste Time Like a Pro
Use these tips from North U's Bill Gladstone to hit the line right on time, with speed.
Kill a Little More Time
There are a number of reasons why you may find yourself with a lot of time to kill: you've turned back early to avoid sailing into a big crowd, the breeze is up, you misjudged the current, or you just made an error in judgement (yes, it happens).
To kill a bunch of time, try a 360. Spinning a 360 burns a significant amount of time without using up any runway. Make your move early enough in the sequence and far enough from the line so as to allow yourself enough time and distance to accelerate, as the turns will definitely slow you down. When planning a 360, allow at least one second per foot of waterline. Often it'll take a bit longer, particularly given how long it takes to get back up to full speed. Practice making tight turns in either direction and time each maneuver.
The double tack is another great time-wasting trick. Pulling a double tack scrubs off a lot of speed and shifts you to the right on the line, creating space for you to bear off and accelerate. By varying the angle you sail between tacks you can control how far right you shift and how close to the line you end up. The double tack requires practice, and you may find it necessary to back the jib in order to get the bow around quickly on the slower second tack. As with the 360, it's critical to practice this maneuver in order to see how much time you really burn.
The most dramatic stall tactic is the Big Dive. This move shifts you left and, as compared to the small burn techniques above, takes you further away from the line. For every second you dive you also buy yourself a second of distance, a double payoff as compared to parking. One advantage of the Big Dive is that it allows you to carry speed. Techniques that slow you down can leave you vulnerable to attack while you're waiting to accelerate, but the Big Dive allows you to keep your speed and add distance, so you won't run out of runway.
The 360, double tack, and Big Dive all take room and can be difficult to pull off in a crowd. The real secret in all these techniques is recognizing when you are early. As you approach the line, guess how long it will take you to get there, then see how long it actually takes. This is a technique you can practice any time you are on the water (or even in your car). If you can recognize early that you're early, you can make good use of your time-wasting techniques and leave yourself with a runway long enough to get you to the line on time at full speed.
Bill Gladstone is the director of education at North U. He's been teaching sailing and racing since 1973. Learn more about North U books, CDs, clinics, and coaching at www.northu.com.
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