The ILYA, Roble/Shea Sailing, and SailZing, LLC are partnering to bring you a series of video webinars with ILYA’s Olympic qualifiers, Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea. The series is geared to high school, college and adult sailors at all skill levels. Topics will include racing strategy, starting, tactics, downwind sailing, boat speed/rigging, and rules. There is a separate series for younger sailors.
This week’s topic was Racing Strategy. Watch the video, or read through the outline and the key insights. You can join future webinars live. Check the ILYA website for the schedule.
Outline and Video Timings
- Mental approach to racing (05:15)
- Keep it simple
- Process oriented
- Unemotional response
- Trust your gut (and your teammate)
- Focus on the present
- Have fun
- Improve the decision-making process (09:20)
- Three types of decisions (COW)
- The continuous dialogue
- Questions to keep asking
- Use observations to develop a game plan (17:50)
- Wind types
- Filtering observations
- Day typing – what type of day is it?
- Adapt your approach to the day type (28:25)
- Sailing style
- Pre-race tune up
- Priority-based reminders
- Communicate to improve decisions (46:20)
- Countdown to decision time
- Feeding information
- Questions and answers (50:30)
Selected Insights and Links
We selected just a few of the many good nuggets in this video, mostly based on your editor’s need to constantly be reminded of these concepts. We also included links to related SailZing content. Thankfully, our content is consistent with Steph and Maggie’s discussion!
Keep it simple
Many of us try to learn as much as we can about the sport, and over-complicate things as a result. Instead we should learn to execute the high-priority things well. Here’s a quote from Eric Twiname’s book, Start to Win, that says it all:
If you can spot wind shifts and you sail on inland waters, the minutiae of boat tune will be as near irrelevant as makes no difference. … My own experience is that if you do nothing more than re-arrange in a tail-ender’s mind the importance he/she should attribute to individual items (like jib sheet trim, mainsail luff lifting, heeling, prediction of wind shifts, and so on) he/she immediately stops being a tail-ender.Eric Twiname in Start to Win
Countdown to decisions
We’ve written about anticipating decisions in previous articles. Steph and Maggie point out that you know in advance that some decisions will be needed: whether or not to stay with the fleet right after the start, when to tack when you’re approaching the edges of the course, and how to react when you’re ahead of a pack of boats. Imagining a countdown to these decisions may nudge you think ahead: communicate, gather information, remember priorities.
Trust your gut
It is said that Buddy Melges made many of his strategic decisions by instinct, based on his keen observation of the current situation. Steph and Maggie remind us of this, and point out that your instincts will get better as you gain experience.
Day typing and priorities
With Dave Ullman, Steph and Maggie developed a “day typing” chart to simplify strategy development. The chart lists five types of wind and the strategic priorities for each. Watch the video to see the chart. The good news for SailZing readers is that the chart is completely consistent with our previous articles on racing strategy.
Day typing also affects your priorities during the tune up before the start.
- Random, puffy shifty: sharpen up your boat handling and prepare for quick responses
- Stable, oscillating shifts: concentrate on the accuracy of your sense of the lifted tack or compass headings
- One side advantaged: sharpen up your starting skills and boat speed, so you can get to the preferred side first
Keep up with Steph and Maggie’s campaign and consider donating.