Monday, May 08, 2006
There is no doubt about it. The pre-start is the most exciting and decisive part of a match race. Obviously bad team work might cost you the race even if you win the start, but still it is both a great feeling and great advantage to have a commanding position after the pre-start. Learning to get your pre-start right requires a lot of good timing, team work, boat handling, and strategic planning. Getting all this right will require you to collect a lot of memorial snapshots of pre-start situations as they happen to you. And, that will require you to sail a lot of match races :)
But here is a help for both you and me. I've been taking notes of interesting pre-start situtations I've been encountering so far, both to study them (possibly with others) and to put them right into my memorial collection. Starting with this one, I plan to post these here. Please contribute such experiences to me if you have any (either in words or sketches, or both).
The presented case is sort of a book-case that happened to me. I was the blue boat in this sketch and benefited from two big mistakes of my opponent to win the start. First mistake that yellow makes is to allow blue to get the windward advantage at position 2. From here on, blue is free to tack and get away from yellow towards the right side of the line. Here, the two boats start circling, a procedure that happens frequently in match racing as boats try to avoid and control each other at the same time. Now, comes the second mistake; yellow leaves the circling stage too early and shoots for the line. At the time she gets there it's too early for start. Blue, now comes from behind and has the chance to push yellow out of the line. Yellow, trying to avoid this has to sail away (run away from blue) and ends up far from the line at the starting gun, giving the lead to blue!
I called this a classic book-case, because it shows the difference between the mind set of a fleet racer and the match racer. In fleet racing, it is common to get to the line early to secure a nice spot. Now in match racing, there is no such thing as a nice spot on the line! The only nice spot that exists is the one where you have the control over your opponent...so forget about where you are on the line at start...even forget that you should be on the line at all! You just have to make sure that you block your opponent from starting! (that's if you can :)