Schooled, Again

It's amazing what you can learn and not learn when you sit and look at the replay of a 96-boat world championship.

Sailing World
J24 World Championship
Imagine trying to pick your lanes through this mess of a 96-boat fleet. Race 1 winner Saramouche had a terrible start, tacked at the race committee boat, dug hard into the bottom right corner, tacked once and led all the way around.Kattack Screengrab

Sailing World editor Stuart Streuli and I are at the 2012 J/24 Worlds in Rochester this week, which started today (Monday) with two incredibly tough and shifty races. There were 96 boats on the racecourse, so it was nearly impossible to keep track of who was winning, who was losing, and who was gaining on one beat or the next, and what was really working at any given moment. Every time I looked across the racecourse, bows were pointed every which way.

Trust me, I was perfectly happy with my job on the bow. Stu, however, had the hot seat calling tactics, as he normally does on Ian Scott's Crack of Noon, and he had one hell of day trying to make sense of which shifts would come and when. I have habit of chirping in his ear (I'm a self-admitted backseat tactician, and not a good one at that), but I was perfectly happy keeping my "suggestions" to myself today and let him figure it out. He made some great calls, and it was interesting to see how they played out on the replay of the Kattack Race Player.

The conditions were a light southerly that came straight off Rochester shoreline. In the first race, a big right shift right off the start launched anyone on that side immediately, and in the second, it was the left that rewarded those who got off the line best, tacked (or started) on the big left shift, and got away. No suprise there, but what was surprising was watching the Kattack tracks and noticing in each race, the boat that won hit its side and tacked only once or twice. Our tracks had five or as many as eight tacks on the first beat, some of which were to clear lanes and to take advantage of shifts, but where it was hard work for us, the two race winners made it look easy. Fun, frustrating stuff, and we're at least in the top half (43rd), with a lot more racing to come.

—Dave Reed