Thanks everyone for attending the clinic yesterday. Conditions were awesome with a nice breeze between 12 and 15 knots, and all the sailors worked hard. Thanks also for Quinn for stepping in for a few minutes and show us how hard “the animal” hikes!
First lesson for every Opti sailor is to tune their sails on the ground. Everyone put their sail up and put the main sheet on and tied in their mast before they checked their sail out for the conditions of the day. Your sail should be perfect before you put it in the boat because once it’s up it’s really too tall to adjust. When it is up it should be for final fine tune adjustments only. This also makes your sail last longer as it’s not up in the wind flapping around. We talked about how the sail sits on the mast and the curve cut into the front. If you want your sail to be full you have to keep the curve in the sail by tying the sail ties looser in the center and tighter on the top and bottom. If you want a flat sail just switch the order, looser on top and bottom and the center ones tighter.
Svenya – We worked a lot on tacks. The biggest thing that you can focus on that will help improve your tacks is the body pump before the sail comes across. This will heel the boat to windward and help the boat turn. Because you’ll get more roll entering the tack you will not have to wait on the new leeward side to heel the boat. Also, if you keep your knees together during the whole thing then it will make the body pump much easier.
Ryan – Your tacks are looking pretty good in the conditions we had yesterday. Hiking out of your tacks will make them much better because you’ll accelerate and the boat won’t tip and slide sideways (you can see a good example in the video below). Because you’re a little light you don’t have much righting weight to bring the boat flat. So, when it gets windy you need to be able to hike hard to maximize your righting moment immediately out of the tack. You can practice this by tacking and not switching your hands for 5 seconds. Concentrate on your feet hooking the straps and jumping outboard as much as possible. Don’t switch hands. Just max hike for 5 seconds. Once you are comfortable with not switching your hands then you can start hiking out of the tacks every tack. This will become habit if you practice the move consistently.
Quinn hopped in an Opti for a little bit yesterday and there were a few very distinct differences that everyone noticed right away. 1) He was hiking really hard even though he’s bigger than everyone else! 2) He moves his body a lot, working the boat over every wave. When we watch the video we can see that his boat stays perfectly flat to the horizon all of the time. 3) He anticipates every wave so that the boat never heels. I noticed that though everyone’s body movements were correct, the movements were mostly a little late. Because the movements were late the boat tended to heel to leeward when a wave came.
One big lesson that all three kids learned yesterday was the reverse pump. The reverse pump works about the same as a normal pump but instead of trimming in fast and easing slowly it is trimmed in slow and then released fast making the leach of the sail pop. When you feel the bow of the boat start going down the wave start to trim in, then when the boat starts to accelerate ease the main sheet as fast as possible and ooch your butt forward very hard and fast. When done correctly this is one of the best ways to get on a wave. One pump, one ooch per wave.
Trimming the Vang
Everyone sailing downwind yesterday was very tippy and unsteady as is the tendency as the wind increases. The more Vang tension you pull on downwind in breeze the more steady everything gets. This is why Ryan flipped yesterday. He let the main sheet too far out while not having enough Vang tension. This causes the boat to heel really far to windward and can lead to a death roll. The way to pull on Vang tension in any condition is to trim your main in as far as possible (until it touches the back of the boat if it’s windy) and reach forward and take out the slack of the Vang line. This can be done at the beginning of each windward leg, or pre-start.