Saturday, May 20, 2006

Match Race Training

Although I definitely cannot train as much as I should (and would), here is something that I would definitely try out next time I'm going training. The drill, described below, is kindly provided by Fred, himself a keen dinghy and match-race sailor. I believe that he will put up a german version of this drill on his blog sometime soon.
"Take 7 sailors with good helming abilities, 2 boats of the same type and a Laser, small powerboat or else. Take one small buoy/mark with you. Lay a starting line with a fixed mark or your small craft. Man the sailing boats as following: 1 Helmsman, 1 Crew, 1 Umpire each. I had prepared: 2 protest flags on sticks. 2 table tennis rackets each for the umpires. One showed black/white and the other yellow/blue. Rule Incident with a protest flag from a competitor: umpires (sitting on the stern or standing up in the hatch of the boat) shows colour of the boat (either yellow or blue flagged on backstay) Umpires show different colours: No incident. Showing white: no incident and black: DSQ. Absolutely no contact between boats!You do a full starting routine (set clock and diving in) and short windward leg until one is clearly in front. You sail back to the starting line and swoop positions. Everyone should man the starting boat once in a full round robin. The starting boat is fitted with flags and a horn or whistle. The starter should write down the results on a list.
Afterwards have a good debriefing and a beer and I promise you. It will show results pretty soon. Smooth sailing."
I think sharing information on such drills, situations we meet on the match racing circuit, and tips and tricks will help all of us improve faster. So, let me know of any such material you want to share and I'll post them here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pre-Start Routines

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 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 :)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Rankings

The latest Open Match Race Rankings is released yesterday at the ISAF web site. There is a nice calculation behind these rankings. In a nutshell, it is the sum of your best four scores from the most recent two years. Each score is weighted by two factors, one based on the Grade of the event and the other based on the date. Scores from the most recent year (i.e. events occured within the last 365 days) are multiplied by 6, while events dating from 365-730 days are multiplied by 3. The grading factor is easier, it goes from 1 to 3.5 for Grade 5 to 1 respectively. So in the end the formula looks like this for each event: Score x Grade Factor x Year Factor. Given this formula, it's easy to see that during your first year it's quite important to have lots of races so that you can have at least 4 good scores under your belt. These will be multiplied by 6, giving you a boost in the rankings. For me, the numbers look not so bad so far.