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Sail Melbourne/Oceania Laser Championship 2020

This year’s Sail Melbourne regatta was acting as the 2020 Oceania Laser Championships, and the final warm-up regatta for the main event of the season – the Laser World Championships. With even more international sailors entered than we had at the Nationals, this Sail Melbourne is more comparable to a World Cup Event, and a good test before the Worlds.

Day 1;

With a solid breeze forecast for the first day of racing, the race committee’s initial comments were that the breeze would be strong, but raceable. That being said, as we got closer and closer to our 2pm start time, none of the fleet were in a rush to get ready, and eventually the race committee postponed us on shore.

After a short wait, we were sent out in to a 20-25 knot south-easterly breeze, with the possibility of only getting one race in.

Race 1;

Race one started after two general recalls, and a few BFDs. The breeze had been oscillating through a pretty wide range, and it looked like it would be tricky strategy-wise. Prior to the start, the breeze had been in a left phase, with most of the fleet favouring the pin. Given the oscillations, I expected the next shift to come from the right, so I wanted to leverage myself to the right side of the start line. With the whole fleet being a bit hesistant, and the left shift still present at the gun, most of the fleet were well behind the line, but being only 10-15 boats away from the race committee end, I was able to judge the line well and punch out from the start. The right shift I’d anticipated then hit us shortly after the start, and I found my self lifting up inside most of the fleet. This allowed me to start footing for speed which quickly pushed me in to a dominant position over the fleet. With a lot of the fleet starting to tack on to port, I waited until I hit the first left shift to tack and stay with the other leaders back towards the mark. Another 15 degree right hander helped a group who had pushed right early bridge the gap up to us, with the breeze getting even more shifty as we headed in to the last 1/3 of the beat. Given the large right shift, I expected this to hold until the layline, so I made my way to the starboard layline. However, as you may have already gathered, there was one last major left shift once I hit starboard layline, and myself and numerous others found ourselves grossly underlaid. I managed to find an opportunity to double tack, and narrowly made it around the top mark in 8th ish.

Unable to get my centreboard up on the reach with all the load on it, I did the best I could to go fast, and rounded the wing mark in 8th. I lost a couple of places on the downwind by not getting to a gust early enough, to round the gate in 10th. I’d decided that I would head for the right turn mark at the gate, as we had a large right shift on the downwind, so I wanted to stay on starboard until the next left hander. Being on the outer loop and even closer to shore, it was inevitable that the left side would have a significant geographic influence from the shoreline. I got to the first lefty, but didn’t really have space to tack, so I continue on an average angle on starboard which led to me falling out of phase. My losses were exacerbated when I semi-capsized in a tack about 1/3 up the beat. I ended up rounding the top mark in 25th, which I held until the last upwind where I gained a place to finish 24th.

The race committee decided that the breeze was too strong at this point, and that was it for the day. All in all, it was a pretty good day, but plenty of room to improve still. Three races scheduled for today, and the breeze is looking a bit funkier than yesterday.

Key lessons for the day;

  1. In an a wide-oscillating breeze, staying in phase with the shifts/leaders is imperative, even if it means tacking in sub-optimal lanes.
  2. Make sure you have a handle on your centreboard to help get it up on easily on the reach!

Day 2;

After the consistently solid breeze yesterday, today was looking to be a tricky one with BOM’s Melbourne forecast predicting winds from the “North East to South East”. With that being said, I think everyone was expecting the breeze to increase throughout the afternoon – similar to yesterday.

Race 2;

The second race of the regatta had a general recall to start off, with most of the fleet favouring the pin end, given a persistent left trend which was forecast. The breeze continued going left, and on the proper start, I tried to start towards the end, but had a crappy gap so ended up having to fight to find a lane. After numerous tacks in the first half of the beat, I settled on going all the way to the port layline to clear my breeze – this was also the favoured side of the beat. I managed to recover a little bit, but still rounded the top mark in high 30s.

I stayed high in the left shift on the reach, and managed to pick up a couple of places. My plan from then on was to work the ‘low road’ of the downwind, as there was some good pressure on the reach which I expected to flow down to that side of the course. I was able to pick up a few places on my side, but ultimately, lost a number of boats who went to the right side of the run which had even more pressure.

Having already put myself on the left side of the course (right side upwind), I rounded the left turn gate with the plan of tacking shortly after to not lose too much leverage to the left side of the upwind. I managed to stay roughly where I was on the upwind by working a few oscillations up the middle. Rounded the second top mark in the mid 40s. Lacking my usual speed downwind, I lost a couple of places, and then lost an additional place on the last upwind, by not setting up correctly in the increased pressure from last upwinds. 48th.

Race 3;

Ready to put the last race behind me, the breeze was up to around 18 knots and in a similar direction to Day 1. With the entire fleet favouring the boat end, I expected the left side to pay again, so I set myself up towards the leeward end of the group with the plan of continuing to the left side. I had a decent start, but lost my lane after a couple of minutes, but I was able to hang on just long enough to give me a good opportunity to find a new lane. Having crossed most of the fleet who didn’t have good starts, I quickly found a new lane on starboard not too far behind the leaders. I then continued until the rest of the leaders tacked, and managed to get around the top mark in the late teens.

I held roughly where I was on the reach, and then headed towards the right side of the run, with the aim of heading towards the pressure which seemed to be hanging around the shoreline. I either went a little too far away from the rhumb line, or lacked a bit of pressure, but I lost a few places on the run to round in the low 20s. I went for the right turn gate, as the shore line had been significantly favoured on the second upwind thus far, but lacking a plan, I ended up making a few too many tacks to round the top mark in the low 30s.

For the next downwind, I improved my technique and managed to find some pressure to carry down with me to gain around 4 places on this downwind. I held this spot to finish the race in 27th.

Race 4;

Final race of the day, and the breeze was holding steady. The breeze was well in the left, and the whole fleet knew it with everyone lining up to win the pin end. I was in the group, but with one minute to go, my gap was closing rapidly so I backed out, and decided to try and find another spot. I reached the whole way up the line, and got to the end of the fleet (about halfway up the line) and decided it would be better just to start on port and get moving quickly. This worked pretty well, as when the next right shift came through, I was able to tack and put myself towards the front of the fleet. I carried this until the rest of the leaders began to tack on to port, and I tacked a bit below them to head back towards the mark. As the pressure dropped 2/3 of the way up the beat, I wasn’t quick enough to power up and lost a bit due to speed. Rounded the top mark in the late teens – low 20s.

I held good speed on the reach to stay where I was, and then worked a good line of pressure on the right side of the downwind which gained me a place or two. With a similar plan to the previous second upwinds, I rounded the right turn gate with the intention of hitting the shoreline. I was the last one to tack on to port, a little bit overlaid, but it wasn’t that bad as I had a set of coach boat waves behind me which I was able to surf upwind. I lost a few places to the boats who were able to make the most of the right shifts, to round the second top mark in the late 20s. With an additional left shift right at the top mark, there were a number of boats in front of me who hit the top mark, so I was able to gain a few places passing them. I rounded the gate in the mid 20s, and then lost a place on the last upwind to finish around 25th.

Overall, it was a solid day with a couple of ‘keepers’. I’m keen to keep the consistency up, and continue to work on getting good starts, and planning out my second upwinds.

Key lessons for the day;

  1. If wanting to continue to the left side of the first upwind, starting further towards the middle may be a better option; especially if the pin end is over-crowded.
  2. In flat water and gusty conditions, focus on sailing straight downwind with pressure, rather than trying to surf the small chop.

Day 3

Once again, the forecast for today was looking interesting with thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon, and possible squalls of up to 50 knots. Despite that, we were able to get out on time in a building southerly breeze.

Race 5;

After about 6 general recalls, and over 10 boats being disqualified, we were finally able to start our first race for the day in 15 knots of wind. Whilst the committee boat and the right side of the course had been favoured for all of the recalled starts, the broader forecast was anticipating that the breeze would swing towards the South East throughout the day. We were starting to get a few signs of that change prior to our proper start, and as such, I started towards the pin expecting a left shift. My start was pretty good, but I wasn’t set up 100% accurately, and had to work hard to hold my lane. With my lane narrowing throughout the leg, I held on until the port layline without the left shift showing up. This left me with a bit of work to do rounding in the high 30s.

Having come from the port layline, I had a tough time finding a gap on the starboard layline, and because I tacked under starboar layline ‘train’, I had no choice but to take to the low road on the reach. I managed that with some success, to stay in roughly the same place at the wing mark.

Expecting pressure to come from the left side of the downwind, I hooked in to that early and then used that to bring me back to the middle of the course where I found the next line of pressure to keep me going fast. I gained 5-10 places on this downwind.

Having seen a large line of pressure on the left side of the upwind, I rounded the right turn gate, and tacked as soon as I hit the pressure. With my focus for the leg on keeping to boat moving as fast as possible, I was making some good gains up the first half of the upwind. However, once it came time to head back towards the top mark, I got a little stuck sailing in a higher groove, and missed a smaller left shift to round the top mark in the mid-high 30s.

I had a similar plan for the last downwind, working the middle of the leg with pressure, and gained a couple of places. I held this spot until the finish to place 34th. Not the best race, but I’m pretty happy with some of the improvements I made in my second upwind technique.

With a large grey cloud building over the shore, the race committee put up the orange flag to signal the impending start of our second race. However, with only few minutes until the 5 minute warning for our race should’ve gone, the RC put up the abandonment flags, and that was it for the day.

Key lessons for today;

  1. Focus on sailing the boat as well as possible late in the race, and not on what your competition are doing.
  2. If you have a tight lane, and feel like you have a good opportunity to tack, you should probably take it.

Day 4 

Not quite ready to offer us a day of ‘normal weather’, Melbourne again threw some curveballs on the second last day of racing. The forecast expected plenty of breeze, and rain all day. Yet again, we were postponed on shore, and with three races planned to help ‘catch up’ to the scheduled races. As the postponement grew longer, we knew that our chances of getting all three races in was slim, but nonetheless, we were sent out a couple of hours after our expected start.

Race 6;

With a slightly biased pin end, I started the race about 10-15 boats up from the pin end, but wasn’t able to hold my lane for very long. I had to tack out and struggled to find a lane after that. I took a couple of bad waves over the bow which slowed me down significantly, but ultimately managed to get to the starboard layline early which helped me gain a few places in a right shift to round the top mark in the mid 30s.

I was able to stay roughly where I was on the reach, and then set about trying to pick up places downwind. I was able to get a number of good waves, and had some good pressure which got me to the bottom gate in the high 20s. Having had pressure on the left side of the course (looking upwind), I wanted to continue benefitting from that, and rounded the right turn gate.

Having had my compass get knocked off by one of the large waves I plowed through on the first upwind, I wasn’t entirely certain of how my angle was out of the gate, but I was determined to get to the left side to try and catch up. As we were sailing upwind, we were hit by a large rain squall, during which the breeze also dropped significantly. Coming out of the squall, it was clear that the left wasn’t the right choice, and I ended up rounding the top mark in the late 30s. Out of frustration, I wasn’t able to sail my best for the rest of the race, and finished in the low 40s.

Upon completion of the race, we found out that the Race Committee had called off racing for the day.

Day 5

Last day of racing, and as had been the case for most of the regatta, the forecast wasn’t looking promising; but this time due to too little wind. With very light winds forecast for most of the day, we went on the water for our scheduled start time, but after an hour of waiting on the water the race committee sent us back in to wait on shore.

After another hour or so of waiting on shore, we were finally sent out in a building south-westerly wind, with the expectation of only getting one race in due to the last start time.

Race 7; 

Being the last start of the day, the pattern for the previous fleets had seemed to be starting towards the committee boat, and then continuing on the long starboard tack until an opportunity to tack arises.

I went about carrying this out by starting close to the committee boat, and having a good start, but I lost my lane after a minute or so. I was able to clear my lane easily, and continued on starboard until I hit a large left shift with pressure. From there, I played the middle with the leaders, but ultimately lost out in the top 1/3 as the top left of the beat paid dividends. Low 40s at the top mark.

Having noticed a lot of pressure on the right side of our first downwind, I went hard towards it – eager to make up as much ground as possible. I was able to sail around a lot of boats that stuck to the middle, to round the gate in the mid 30s.

This time I went to the left side of the beat, and on a pretty high angle out of the gate. From there, I was focussing on staying on the lifted tack as long as possible, but the breeze stayed in the right for most of the beat, so I lost out to a lot of boats which went the other way.

I stayed roughly in the same spot on the reach, and went for the pressure on the right side of the last downwind by gybing early. I was able to hold a good angle in pressure, and eventually had to gybe again in the last 1/3 of the beat to keep my speed up. I managed to sail through a large number of boats ahead of me, to round the last mark in 41st. After that, I was able to pick up another place on the last beat to finish in 40th.

Even though this result was far from what I was aiming for, compared to race 6, I was really happy with how I sailed, and how I dealt with the second upwind despite being on the wrong side strategically.

Key lesson for today;

  1. Light air favours the bold!

This regatta was a particularly tough one for me, not quite being able to recover well enough during the week which had an impact on how I was approaching the regatta psychologically. I was pretty close to my goal of being in the top 28, and my performance was another improvement from the Nationals.

Next up, 2020 World Championships!

 

2020 Australian Laser Nationals

Today marked the start of the 2020 Australian Laser Championships – one of the key warm-up events leading in to 2020 Laser Worlds to be held at Sandringham Yacht Club, Melbourne. As such, the fleet is a bit ‘beefed up’ compared to usual, with 70 boats – many of which are top international sailors. Leading in to the regatta, we’d experienced the whole range of conditions from 40+ degrees with 30 knots of offshore breeze, to onshore 5-10 knot sea breezes. The latter would resemble the conditions we raced in today.

Race 1;

With the race course covered in a thick layer of smoke from the bush fires plaguing Australia’s east coast, the first race  of the regatta got underway on the stadium course in 8 knots of breeze from the S/SE. Having determined that the breeze was mostly oscillating, upon seeing a large right shift prior to the start, I started towards the leeward end of the fleet which was bunched around the committee boat end. My plan was to continue on starboard until hitting the next left shift. Given the smoke, it was impossible to get a transit on the start line, and I was able to punch out from most of the boats around me who were caught in the ‘mid-line sag’. Despite punching out, I was still bow back on some of the boats at the committee boat, so I had no choice but to continue on starboard. The left shift never eventuated, and I had to make the most of what I could from the left side, to round the top mark in the high 20s.

I was able to stay high on the reach with decent speed, and picked up a couple of places there (mid-20s). My plan for the run was to work the left side (looking downwind) as there seemed to be more pressure there, but due to going high on the reach, I had a number of ‘low road’ boats blocking me from getting there at the wing mark. I tried to make the right side of the run work, but got a little bit too ‘middled’ early on and stuck in dirty air. I lost a couple of place on the run, and rounded the right turn gate.

On the second beat, I worked left side of the beat, which roughly kept me in the same place. With a little bit of extra pressure on the left, I finally got to execute my plan for the second downwind, with good success. Using good speed and pressure, I was able to pick up a couple of places. I then stayed in this spot over the next two legs to finish the race in the low 20s.

Race 2;

After a general recall and a postponement, the race committee had reset the start line to reflect the large right shift we experienced before our first start attempt. Following the adjusting of the line, the breeze swung back towards the left, and I started in the middle of the line, trying to stay a bit more conservative with the black flag up. With my sail number getting covered by boats at either end of the line, I was able to punch out pretty comfortably and get a good start. I lost my lane as the breeze shifted further left, but I was able to find a good spot to tack on to port. I managed to consolidate pretty well, and then kept working the left to round the top mark in the mid teens.

Stayed roughly in the same place on the reach, working a higher groove. With a similar plan to the prior downwinds, this time I was able to set myself up at the wing mark to be able to head to the left side of the downwind. This paid again, I gained a couple of places on this leg. With majority of the fleet heading to the right turn gate, I expected the breeze to come back to the right and as such, rounded the much less crowded left turn mark. After a ‘clearing’ double tack, I was able to head to the right and wait until I found some good pressure, and a 10 degree right shift to tack in to. This helped me gain around 5 places, but I then ended up getting a little bit stuck in the middle after consolidating. As such, I rounded the top mark roughly where I started the beat in.

With the breeze having dropped rapidly, I thought there was a bit more pressure on the right side of the run, and headed there accordingly. Having had 8ish knots behind me at the start of the run, as the wind was dying, I was trying to maintain the same speed in the lighter air, but managed to attract the attention of the jury. Having to do a 720 cost me 8 or so places, and I rounded the gate in the mid 20s. I pretty much stayed in the same spot for the rest of the race, but may have picked up a couple of places on the last upwind by tacking in to the large left shift early.

The forecast for tomorrow is for plenty of wind, so I’m looking forward to getting out and stretching the legs!

Key lessons for today;

  1. Trying to stay concious of my position relative to the fleet, and how the ‘chess game’ is playing out, to avoid getting stuck in the middle of the course/fleet; especially in lighter air.
  2. If it looks like a particular end of the start line is going to be very crowded, and you want to start there, speeding up my pre-start routine to get to that end early enough to find a spot.

Day 2

No racing due to excessive wind.

Day 3

After no racing on day 2, we were behind schedule, and had three races planned for the day. It  was a dreary, rainy day in Melbourne, but the breeze was race-able, and we got out as scheduled for the start of race 3.

Race 3;

Prior to the start of the race, it looked like there was more pressure in the middle right of the course, so I planned to start at the boat end of the line, and continue on starboard in the right shift we had at the time. I was able to execute a good start 2-3 boats away from the committee boat under a black flag start. From there, I was able to work the middle of the beat with good speed and found myself in the mix coming in to the top mark. In the last third of the upwind, I tacked under the layline, in line with some boats ahead of me, but a large right shift then came through, lifting us all up to the ‘new layline’. It was a pretty tight lay, and although I don’t think I hit the top mark, I could see the jury boat out of the corner of my eye, so I did my penalty turns anyway.  I rounded the mark roughly in 8th place, but as the photo below shows (211543), it was an insanely busy rounding, so doing my penalty turns quickly cost me places.

Having finished my turns, I found myself in the dirty air of a lot of the guys going high on the reach. Trying to find a clear lane myself, I headed up, but with the large right shift from the upwind still present, I ended up having to go downwind back to the wing mark. 18th or so at the wing mark.

The right shift wreaked havoc on the downwind as well, making the run particularly skewed. I chose to stay on starboard, and head down the right side of the leg (looking downwind) as there seemed to be a bit more pressure there. It was a hard by the lee angle, but I managed to make it work picking up a few places 15th or so at the gate.

I rounded the left turn gate with the majority of the fleet. Shortly after rounding the mark, I tacked on to starboard, but after a couple of minutes on starboard, I found myself on a collision course with a capsized boat which gave me the choice of tacking or ducking them. I thought I was on a header at the time, and went with the former option. Turns out it wasn’t a header, and when I tacked back on to starboard later, I went straight in to the proper header… Falling out of phase cost me a number of places to round the second top mark in the mid 20s. I was then able to gain a few places on the downwind again to finish 22nd.

 

Race 4; 

Similar plan for the next race, but I wanted to leverage the right side of the first beat a bit more than I did in the first race. I pulled off another quality start from the committee boat end, and quickly found a small left shift which I could use to get me out to the right side. After a few minutes on port, I tacked back in a right hander, and had nearly all of the fleet in my window! I started putting the bow down, and the right shift kept getting bigger and bigger, extending my lead on the fleet. After 80% of the upwind spent on starboard, we were approaching a set of marks, but I wasn’t confident that they were the correct marks, and I couldn’t see our reach mark… I decided to tack back towards the other leaders to be safe, and confirmed with one of my competitors that they were in fact our marks. I tacked on to the layline, but it was pretty marginal, and having the dirty air of the few boats in front of me affecting me, I had to double tack to round the top mark in 6th or so.

With another huge right shift, the reach more or less turned in to a downwind, and I lost a place whilst not in pressure. 7th at the wing mark. I then had a decent downwind in the middle of the course, but the fleet gained distance on me. Once again, I headed for the left turn mark, and worked the middle of the 2nd upwind. This was a mistake, as a lot of the boats behind me were able to gain leverage to right, meaning I rounded the second top mark in 15th. I then followed a similar game plan for the next downwind, and maintained my position. Unfortunately, I lost another place on the last upwind after overlaying the finish line to finish in 16th.

Race 5;

In between race 4 and 5, I noticed that a lot of the leaders in the 4.7 fleet went around their right turn gate to head towards the left side of their second upwind. This had been contrary to the dominant ride side we experienced in the prior two races. With that in mind, I had also noticed prior to our start that there seemed to be more breeze on the left side of the course.

I set out to start towards the left side of the fleet – which ended up being mid-line. I had a good transit and was able to punch well clear of the ‘mid-line sag’ which gave me plenty of options on the first beat. I continued to the left side of the upwind, and worked that side of the course, but nothing significant came from it. It looked good at times, but eventually lost out to the right side of the course, to round the top mark in the low teens.

On the run, I stuck to that side of the course, but I never quite had enough pressure, or the right technique to make it work. I lost two places, but it seemed like we were spending a lot of time sailing ‘boom back’ on the downwind on starboard (broad reaching). As such, I went for the right turn gate, and again towards the left side of the course. This time it worked, and I found a significant left hand shift which helped me gain quite a bit, but I ultimately lost some ground in dirty air towards the top of the beat. Rounded the mark in 11th or so.

I then lost one place on our first reach, but I was able to work some pressure on the right side of the last downwind to jump a group of boats who were holding each other up on the run. 8th at the gate which I held to the finish.

Key lessons for the day;

  1. Working a side of the course, and the edge of the fleet on the second upwind is crucial to staying in clear air/able to make gains.

Day 4

With little, to no wind for most of the morning, a constant drizzle and thick bushfire smoke lingering around Melbourne, the stage was set for an interesting day on the water. After numerous hours of waiting onshore, we were finally sent out around 3pm in 5-8 knots of wind.

We attempted multiple starts, but significant left hand shifts were making the line extremely biased, and impossible to get a clear start underway. Having adjusted the line, and with the wind shifting back to the right, we were able to get a start underway. With the rest of the fleet starting towards the committee boat due to the swing back to the right, I wasn’t convinced that we’d seen the last significant left shift for the day. So I started at the pin, but immediately ran out of pressure with boats not that far away from me gaining 5 boat lengths within a minute. As the breeze was still in a right phase, I had no choice but to continue on starboard until the boats above me began to tack. Once we were all on port, the left shift started to come through, and I was gaining back the initial distance that I’d lost. As we were getting closer to the top mark, I saw a number of boats below me reaching down towards the rest of the fleet. That’s when I’d realised we were going to the wrong top mark… With the huge left shift, and lack of visibility in the smoke, many of us had assumed that the wing mark was our top mark; it was in the right place to be our top mark with the left shift! This meant I rounded the first mark in third last, and with a lot of work to do.

I caught up a few places on the reach, and then chose to go high on starboard to the right of the downwind. I was able to gain another few places here due to speed, but I probably would have been better off gybing and going by the lee on port.

As most of the fleet were going to the left on the second beat – understandable given the left shift on the last beat, I had no choice but to go the opposite way to everyone else. I rounded the left turn gate, and set off on my ‘Hail Mary play’. The right never seemed to be that great, but as I was nearing the starboard layline, I found significantly more pressure than the rest of the course, and a nice right shift to go with it. I tacked, and found I’d gained nearly 15 places as a result.

I set out correcting my mistakes from the last downwind on the second run, and immediately gybed to port, and started sailing hard by the lee. With a good lane, and good speed, I immediately began gaining on the boats on starboard, who were having to sail higher and higher to search for pressure. I continued this all the way to the bottom mark, where I probably should have gybed a bit earlier to consolidate the gains I made, but had to settle for picking up another 6-8 boats on this leg.

I then was able to gain another couple of places on the last upwind by sailing in clear air. 34th across the line. Despite not being a good result, I’m pretty proud of the comeback I made, and how I was able to stay calm despite everything going on. Whereas in the past, I would have lost my temper about not being able to see the top mark, and going to the wrong one, this time I was able to stay composed and focus on what I needed to do to get back in the race.

Key lessons for today;

  1. If seeking a significant advantage (ie a 20 degree left shift), you don’t need as much leverage over the fleet in order to capitalise on that gain. If I’d started towards the committee boat, but on the left side of the fleet, I have no doubt I could have been in the top 10 at the top mark. There was no need to go for such a big advantage by placing myself on the polar opposite side of the fleet.
  2. When in doubt, gybe!

 

Day 5

The penultimate day of the regatta, and the smoke had cleared and the breeze had returned. We set out for three races in 10-15 knots of southerly wind.

Race 7

After a couple of general recalls/postponements, we set out for a start under a black flag. Unfortunately, I got a little bit too eager and broke the line early. BFD.

Race 8 

Keen for redemption in this race, I set out to start in the middle of the line despite the significant right shifts which I’d observed in the first race. I saw a bit more pressure on the middle left of the course, and wanted to head towards that. My start was pretty decent, but shortly afterwards the fleet ran in to the left shift I was expecting. I had to wait for an opportunity to tack, and once I had a gap to tack in to, I I had a lot of the fleet in my window. I continued on port for 70% of the upwind, and then worked a few of the smaller oscillations to round the top mark in around 10th.

My first reach was decent, and I think I stayed in the same position; my memory is failing me a bit after a long day… With significant wave skew on the downwind pushing us to the right side of the leg, I was heading out that way, but wasn’t quite able to make it work. I lost about three places on this leg and rounded the right turn gate. Expecting additional left shifts as per the first upwind, I leveraged myself to the left of the fleet, and tacked as soon as I found the first left shift in clear air. I’d gained a place, and then continued to play the oscillations to round the top mark in 14th or so.

On the second downwind, I continued to make the same mistake as the previous time, and lost a couple of places to round the mark, and ultimately finish in 16th.

Race 9

With a bit of a right phase for our first start attempt, which persisted in to the second start attempt, the fleet set up for a boat end start. However, with about three minutes to go, the breeze started swinging to the left, and the a lot of the fleet began reaching towards the pin. I was able to start about 10-12 boats away from the pin, and quickly tacked in the significant left shift. I was ahead of most of the fleet, but had a pretty narrow lane, so I tacked back out to the left as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I then worked the middle in the last third of the upwind to round the mark in 14th.

I held my position on the reach, and then keen to improve my downwinds from the previous race, I focused on staying smooth with my maneuvers, and using every bit of extra speed I gained to buy depth towards the mark. This seemed to work pretty well, and I was able to gain a spot on the run. 13th.

Again, I went to the left side of the second upwind, but it wasn’t as good as the previous times, and I lost out a bit to some boats on the right, to round the top mark in 15th. I then held this spot until the finish.

All in all, a pretty good day despite the BFD. Two more races to go tomorrow, to wrap up the regatta!

Key lessons for today;

  1. In moderate conditions, even though it may seem like there’s enough wind, staying smooth in all maneuvers, and adjustments of body weight are crucial to going fast downwind.

Day 6

The last day of the regatta, and the breeze looked like it had decided to play ball! We had two races scheduled, and ended up racing in in 10-18kts. Going in to today, I hadn’t looked at any results, but I knew that I would have to try and get two solid scores to help jump up the leaderboard.

Race 10

After a postponement and a general recall, racing finally got underway on a black flag start. Prior to the start, there had not been any major shifts that I had seen, and the pressure seemed to be pretty consistent across the course. With that in mind, I expected that winners would come from whichever group would be able to leverage themselves towards the side of the next small shift, and it would essentially be a speed test to that side. The breeze was in a slight left phase at the start, so I chose to start towards the committee boat end to be able to tack early, and head towards the right side – where I expected the next shift to come from. I had a pretty good start as I pulled the trigger a bit earlier than the boats around me, but ended up taking a few bad waves which put me in a tight lane. I tacked, and headed out on port on a good angle. I then waited until the boats below me started tacking before I went back towards the top mark. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have the speed to keep up with the best guys, and rounded the top mark in the early 20s.

I held my position on the reach, and then headed towards the right side of the first run; this tends to be the ‘fast lane’ in these sorts of conditions in Melbourne. This time however, it didn’t quite have the pressure of the other side of the course, but despite that, I think I gained a place here.

Being on the right side of the run, I went to the closer right turn gate, and headed out to the left side hoping for a geographic shift off the shore. There were some hints of it, but I didn’t quite pick the right time to go back, and lacking some pressure, I lost about four places. This left me with a bit of work to do on the downwind, and luckily, a lot of the boats in front of me pushed hard to the left side of the course, leaving me with a clear lane to overtake them in the middle. I was able to sail fast and with pressure to get to the gate in 24th, a position I held to the finish.

Race 11

With the clock winding down to our last start time, I was uncertain that we were going to get a second race in. The breeze had died since the first race, and the race committee were clearly not rushing to start a race. That being said, once the orange flag went up, I didn’t let any of that affect me, and I was focusing on trying to get another solid result.

With the wind significantly less than the last race, I knew that pressure would be a much bigger factor in this one. With that in mind, I noticed a significant line of pressure coming down the right side of the course, and new that would be the main influence on our race. As such, I started near the boat end, but a last minute left shift killed my lane pretty quickly. I waited for an opportunity to tack on to port, and leveraged myself to the right of the fleet, and in to the pressure. This brought a nice right shift with it, and I was able to carry this all the way to the top 1/3 of the upwind, where I had to use subsequent left shift to get back towards the starboard layline. 8th or so at the top mark.

With such a huge right shift, the reach nearly turned in to a downwind, and I was able to stay a bit closer to the rhumb line than my competitors to round the reach mark in 7th. At this point, I elected to stay on starboard and go by the lee to try and by depth, whilst the rest of the pack had gybed on to port and were reaching…Big mistake… This ended up costing me about 8 places by the bottom mark.

The strategy for the next upwind was pretty obvious, as the right shift was still present. With that being said, I went a little too far in to the shift and ended up overlaying it, costing me two or three places. Not going to repeat the mistake of the last downwind, I gybed early, and held my position in 19th until the finish.

Key lessons for today;

  1. Don’t go downwind down a run, if you can reach down a run!
  2. Keep the layline in mind when a significant persistent shift changes the landscape of the course.

All in all, it wasn’t my best regatta, but I definitely had some promising moments. I’m pretty happy with how consistent I was able to stay in my mindset, and approach to the racing, and I’m keen to work on some of the on-water weaknesses that I uncovered this event next week, at Sail Melbourne – the last warm up event for the World Championships.

As always, thanks for reading!

2020 Sailing World Cup Round 1 – Enoshima

The 2020 Sailing World Cup series got underway today the with the start of the Enoshima leg. Throughout the pre-training, we saw three days of an onshore southerly breeze; with everything from 5-15 knots and flat water to a lumpy ocean swell. This was the complete opposite to anything I’d ever raced in at this venue, but the forecast was suggesting that this year’s regatta would experience more of those onshore conditions.

Day 1; 5-7kts S/SW + small chop + current

With the forecast for today predicting a possible sea breeze, with a light gradient slowly turning from N to S/SW. As I got to the harbour in the morning, there was significant cloud cover, and any chance of a sea breeze seemed greatly diminished. After a few hours of waiting on shore and general boat park banter, we finally got sent out to start a race at 3pm.

Race 1; After a postponement to the first start due to a significantly pin biased line, the RC shifted the pin back, but not enough to reduce the 10 degree bias on the start line. I started about 1/3 up from the pin end, but with a lot of current pushing the fleet behind the line, I wasn’t aggressive enough at the start and had to tack out of my spot almost immediately.

Despite my race plan favouring some additional pressure on the left, I sent it hard right in search of clear air. I had clear air all the way to the starboard layline, and a bit of pressure on the layline which helped marginally improve what was a terrible 1st leg. Having learnt from previous regattas to overlay the mark in adverse current, I also picked up a few places from people who failed to lay. 45th at the top.

With adverse current and light air, the only choice was to go high on the reach, which allowed me to hold 45th. My plan for the run was initially to head right, but a large pressure line to the left begged me to change that plan. I had good pressure and angle initially, but fell out of that pressure in the middle third of the downwind, which cost me ground to the pack on the opposite side. 50th at the gate.

A heavily crowded left turn gate mark caused my to do a last minute gybe to head to the right turn gate, but in doing so, my mainsheet snagged my transom (whoops!) and I had a very average rounding, which was further exacerbated by the current. Generally average lanes, and picking the wrong side left me in 50th at the last top mark.

Sailed straight down the rhumb line with good speed/pressure downwind to catch a single boat which I held to the finish. 49th.

Race 2; 

With a quick turnaround for race 2, we tried a start attempt with a heavily boat end favoured line which got recalled. The RC moved the pin end again, and we started under black flag with a somewhat biased boat end line. I started at in the middle with the plan of continuing on starboard until reaching the expected left shift – interestingly, this is exactly what the race winner did. After more poor pre-start boat handling, I immediately had to go in search of a new lane. After a short stint on port, I found something somewhat resembling a lane on starboard and headed out to the left. The left ended up paying, and I was able to round the top mark in 36th after losing some distance due to poorly placed tacks in the top 1/3.

Similar plan for the reach as the last race. This was even more obvious due to the left shift at the top mark. Held 36th at the reach mark, and headed for the right side of the run in search of better pressure. Managed to find a good lane with decent speed, and rounded the gate in 32nd. My goal for the run was to try and use accurate fore/aft boat trim and sheeting to maximum gains towards the mark – this seemed to work pretty well.

I rounded the right turn gate, and headed towards the left. There was a big left shift at the time, so a few boats in front of me tacked to consolidate, but I elected to continue in search of better air/pressure; light air favours the bold! I found both of these, along with a left shift, which helped me make huge gains. I crossed an additional ten boats or so on port, and chose to continue on the lifted tack in anticipation of an eventual right shift near the top mark. This never eventuated, and I ended up rounding the top mark in 26th, having lost about 5 boats on the layline, but a good gain nonetheless!

Same plan for the last downwind, but lost a single boat after sailing a little too much distance. 27th at the last mark, which I then held to the finish.

An okay day, but definitely a lot to work on over the rest of the regatta! Looking like some more breeze for tomorrow, so need to get my hiking legs working…

Lessons for today;

  1. Light wind pre-start boat handling – shoot up, and then try to stay head to wind for as long as possible to minimise sideways slippage.
  2. That being said, constantly moving forward pre start in an adverse current helps you stay advanced on the fleet/line.

Day 2; 20-25kts+, 2m swell

After nearly a whole day of waiting on shore due to strong winds, the race committee decided to send out some of the fleets who needed to catch up on racing after yesterday. This meant that the Finn fleet was sent on to our course, and we would have to continue waiting.

This ultimately meant that we ran out of time to get any racing in, and have three races scheduled for tomorrow. There’s a similar breeze forecast, so it should be a bit of a hike-fest!

Day 3; 12-22kts + swell

Well that was a big day on the water… Three races in full power conditions with plenty of swell.

Race 3; How to lose a good placing in three simple steps.

After my pre-start warm up, I had noticed a general left trend in the wind, and decided that the left side of the upwind would be favoured. We started under a black flag, and I elected to start towards the middle of the line in a good gap. I got a decent start, but soon lost a bit of ground to one the fastest big breeze sailors in the world who had started below me. I decided to hold the narrow lane for as long as could, and eventually tacked as the furthest left boat. From there, the breeze continued to swing left, and without any current pushing us downwind, I ended up well over the layline (step no.1). After footing in to the mark, I was in decent shape (around 17th), but as I was approaching the mark, a group of starboard tackers who had just rounded sailed downwind towards me, and I had no option but to go downwind with them for a bit before rounding the mark…(step no. 2) 26th at the top mark.

From there, I worked the middle of the downwind, but was never able to piece together any waves, and ended up getting a little frustrated (step no. 3). I was saved in the last third of the run where I was able to catch three massive waves to get me to the gate. 33rd at the right turn gate.

The plan for the second upwind was pretty simple; work the left side. I did that, but tacked a little bit under the layline, meaning that I lost a little bit of ground at the top mark when there was more pressure right on the port layline. 33rd at second top mark.

I couldn’t quite get the boat going on the reach, and ended up playing around with my sheet too much which was just bleeding pressure from the sail. 35th at wing mark. On the downwind, I had good pressure initially and made some gains, but couldn’t quite sail fast enough back to the mark, so I lost a boat. I then held on to finish 36th.

Race 4; 

A bit of deja vu for the second start, but this time I was marginally closer to the pin end, on a pin end favoured line. My start was okay, but I ended up losing my lane pretty quickly. I held to the port layline, and tried to minimise any overlaying compared to the last race. I was a bit closer to the layline this time, but still had to foot to get to the mark, but wasn’t quite fast enough. 21st at top mark.

I still couldn’t quite get the technique right on the downwind but did enough to hold on to 21st at the gate. Followed the same plan for the second upwind, but didn’t quite have the speed to hold on to the top guys. 25th at the second top mark.

On the layline, I subconciously let my cunningham off before the reach. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. WIthout any cunningham, I wasn’t able to depower the boat effectively for the reach, and lost out a bit on speed. 26th at the wing mark.

This second downwind was the first one in which I was able ‘wick er’ up’. I was able to link up some pressure and waves to gain a boat, but also lose a boat. 26th at the last mark and subsequently the finish.

Race 5;

This race started with a bit more even line, but with the fleet favouring the committee boat end. Expecting the left to pay again, I started towards the middle of the line, but towards the left of the fleet. I ended up started next to the guy who went on to win the race, and had a good start in which I was able to hold my lane all the way to the left. I tacked a bit earlier than the previous races, with the plan of not overlaying the top mark. Initially, the left wasn’t looking too flash, but as we went further, we got some pressure and the left dialed up to bring me to the layline and round the top mark in 12th.

I was then able to get some decent pressure along the right side of the downwind, which allowed me to link together a few waves to keep me in 12th at gate. I rounded  the right turn gate, with the goal of going left again, but the breeze was already further left than we had seen on the previous upwind. After about half of the beat, I tacked to consolidate on some boats to windward, and then tacked back after crossing. The result was that I lost some leverage to the left, and ended up losing to boats who went all the way to the port layline. 16th at the second top mark.

I then held on to 16th on the reach, with a bit better sail set up keeping me going fast for the whole leg. The last downwind was generally good, as I was able to keep a close chasing pack behind me, but a few missed waves in the last 50m caused me to lose a place at the mark. 17th at the gate and the finish.

Generally, a pretty good day, but still with plenty of lessons to take away. Tomorrow’s forecast is looking pretty similar, so I’m keen to try and put together another few good races.

Today’s lessons;

  1. If approaching on the port layline to the top mark, stay high to avoid any boats rounding the mark, then wait for an opportunity to get past.
  2. If one side has been paying consistently throughout the day, protect that side at all costs.

Day 4; 14-25kts, moderate swell

Today was a day of extremely good luck, along with extremely bad luck and tough strategic choices. The wind and sea state were similar to yesterday, although we were on a different race course. Another major difference today was the influence of clouds/rain squalls compared to yesterday’s purely left hand track.

Race 6; 

Prior to the first race, I saw a left trend similar to yesterday, and expected the left to pay again today. On our second start attempt, I started in the middle of the line, which was the left of the fleet who were all racking up near the boat end. I had a killer start and was holding my lane nicely, until about 3mins in to the beat, I managed to dig my bow in to one of the largest waves I’d seen all day. This caused me to drop from 4th to 17th – according to the tracker. As a result of being bow back, I was stuck in the dirty air of the fleet, heading the wrong way. In the end, a large squall came from the right, and I lost out to all of the boats who were to my right. 45th at the top mark.

Having learned from yesterday’s mistakes, I kept my cunningham on for the 1st reach, and focussed on sailing as fast as possible to make up some ground. I got a bit closer to the group in front of me on the reach, and then really let it rip on the downwind. With the wind now gusting over 25 knots in the squall, there were boats in front of me capsizing, and most other just trying to survive the run. This was my opportunity, I got in to the brunt of the squall and tried to plan as close to dead downwind as possible, only turning to jump/avoid running in to the back of waves in front of me. I nailed the gybe, and rounded the favoured left turn gate in 38th.

Most of the fleet had immediately tacked on to starboard, but I kept going until I hit a large knock. I followed this right shift for around two-thirds of the beat, and continued to gain on all the boats who had tacked earlier. As these boats started to tack, I crossed a few and ducked a few before finally tacking on the next header to gain even more. This lefty then took me all the way to the starboard layline, where I rounded in 33rd.

With the breeze now a bit lighter, I tried my best to surf as many waves as possible on the downwind. I held my position and finished the race in 33rd.

Race 7;

Race 7 got away on the second attempt, under a black flag, but I nearly didn’t get to start the race. In between the two races, the coach who had been taking my bag told me that him and his sailor were heading in for the day. So I had to find a new coach to give my bag to, and I found Ben, the Hong Kong team coach. During the first start attempt of race 7, with about two minutes to go, I was bearing away when the universal joint on my tiller extension snapped. I thought this would be the end of my day, so I sailed over to Ben to get my bag to head home. Before taking off, I waited to see what would happen with the start, and as it turned out, there was a general recall. It was at this point that Ben offered me their spare tiller extension for the race. I quickly attached it, and even more luckily, it happened to be the same model with the same universal joint. I can’t thank Ben enough for the help! Any score is better than a DNS…

I started this race at the committee boat end (big mistake) on a 15-20degree pin end favoured line, with the plan of getting to some extra pressure on the right, and expecting the left phase breeze to swing back to the right. My start was okay, and I quickly tacked out to execute my plan. Nothing eventuated out of the right, until the very end at the layline, which I did a good job of getting to early to gain me 10 places or so on what I’d been halfway up the beat. 37th at the top mark.

On the reach, I worked a higher groove to get to the oncoming pressure first, which I then was able to soak down with. This helped me close the gap to some boats in front, and round the wing mark in 36th.

Our first downwind was a little bit skewed, and a lot of boats ended up sailing unnecessarily low. I chose to go high out to the right to try and hook in to some pressure which appeared to be heading towards that side. It took a while, and it didn’t look too flash for a while, but the pressure eventually hit and I was able to ride it all the way to the gate to round in 34th at the right turn gate.

Most of the fleet had tacked to port out of the gate, but I continued on starboard with the plan of heading to the new breeze which had appeared on the run. I should’ve taken note of the fleet, as there was a bit of a left shift which came through, but it didn’t last long, and I ended up lose quite a few boats on the right. 39th at the final top mark. I then struggled on the run to find any rhythm in the softer pressure with the waves, but managed to limit my losses to one boat. 40th at the gate and the finish.

A little bit of a frustrating day, as I was never quite able to get on top of the strategic priorities. Three more races to finish it off tomorrow, and it looks like it’s going to be a funky one, with breeze forecast from 10-25kts…

Key lessons;

  1. Make sure you double check your tiller extension universal joint before major regattas! This might even mean unscrewing it from the tiller extension, to check the whole thing.
  2. A 20 degree line bias is too big to forfeit, especially when unsure of the first shift on the beat.

Day 5; 15-20knots + wind swell

Three long races in full power conditions on the last day of a mostly windy regatta will put the will power of even the mentally toughest to the test. Today was a day which really sorted out who’s fit, and who isn’t. Unfortunately for me, I fell in to the latter category, with my post-worlds break leaving me a bit behind on fitness compared to the best in the fleet.

Race 8;

After waiting on the water for the breeze to fill, once it did, the wind shifted quickly to the left, followed by a gradual right trend. As such, I started this race at the race committee boat, with the idea of protecting the right side. I had a killer start from about five boats down, and held my lane until I had the first opportunity to tack on to port. Once on port, I lost a bit of my lane, and as soon as a right shift appeared, I tacked to head back to the middle in clear air. Once in the top 1/3 of the beat, I didn’t commit to either layline, and lost a bit of ground in dirty air. 29th at the top mark.

On the first downwind, I wasn’t able to find my rhythm in the waves early, and lost some ground to the boats who were surfing. I was eventually able to get it going, and made up some of those losses, but ultimately got caught on the wrong side of a huge pile-up at the right turn gate. 33rd at the gate.

Out of the gate, the breeze was in a right phase, so I continued on starboard until the first left shift appeared. I carried this the whole way across to the course until I hit a solid right shift with pressure. I’d made up a fair bit of ground, but a questionable port-starboard incident in the top 1/3 of the beat meant I rounded in 33rd again. I lost a few boats on the reach by not defending the high lane early enough, but I was able to claw back those places on the last downwind to round the last mark in 34th.

Ultimately, a couple more luffing battles on the last reach (one involving the same boat from the port-starboard) cost me the places I’d gained on the run. 36th at the finish.

Race 9; 

Race 9 started with a slightly pin-end biased line, but I chose to start towards the middle, expecting a right hand shift shortly after the start. The right shift came, and I was able to hold my lane well after a good start. As soon as some boats around me began to tack in the first sign of a left shift, I too tacked, but a general lack of speed and a gradual left shift cost me quite a few places on port tack. My losses were further exacerbated by under-tacking the starboard layline in to dirty air. 35th at the top mark.

Along with under-tacking the layline, when I did manage to find the layline, I failed to take in to account the change in current – which was now pushing us downwind. This caused me to hit the top mark. I did my penalty turn and lost three places as a result. I held 38th until the gate. At the gate, I chose to go to the heavily favoured left turn gate, but when performing my gybe at the mark, I was a bit slow to cross the boat, and nearly capsized. Preventing the capsize allowed two boats to sneak inside me. From there, I tried to work some of the oscillations on the second beat, but didn’t get much out of it. 40th at the second top mark.

I had a good top mark rounding, and managed to get the boat moving well to put some distance on the boats behind me. 40th at the wing mark. I kept my speed up on the run, and managed to pick off a couple of boats by sailing fast down the rhumb line. 38th at the gate.

It was then a quick reach to the finish, but with one of my competitors close on my tail and gaining, I was doing everything I could to keep the boat surfing. He’d gotten a good wave which he was able to use to soak below, and to midships on me. I thought I had him when I started surfing the last wave before the finish line, but I pointed too far down the wave and buried the bow resulting in a near pitch pole. 39th at the finish.

Race 10;

The start line for the last race of the regatta was slightly pin biased, but the fleet was favouring the boat. As such, I chose to start towards the middle to utilise some of the line bias. I had a pretty average start, and had to head right to try and find a clear lane. I ended up continuing on port, to the right of the fleet, in a progressive left shift… I rounded the top mark in 45th and very low on morale/energy.

Despite my lack of morale, I knew that I had good speed downwind, so I used the downwind to try and catch up as much as possible. I managed to gain a lot of ground on the boats in front of me, but without gaining any places. Given the huge shift on the first upwind, and the similar conditions to the second racing day, I decided to send it left on the second upwind. Despite a lack of speed from limited hiking, I managed to gain a place to round the second top mark in 43rd.

Better speed on the reach helped me to claw back another place. 42nd at the wing mark. I then tried my best to bridge the gap to the boats in front of me, but I wasn’t quite able to catch them. That being said, reducing the gap from 50m+ to 20m wasn’t a bad effort.

Lessons from the day;

  1. Fitness in 15-20 knots is probably the single most important factor, along with the ability to keep racing at your best at the end of a regatta.
  2. If tacking with the fleet, consider delaying your tack a bit longer to give you more free space on the next tack.

This was one of the hardest regattas I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally. That being said, it was a great experience to race in a gold-fleet quality field, and I managed to get some decent results along the way.

Laser Standard Worlds – Finals

Day 4 

The finals series started today with 5-8knots of wind and a solid left over swell from the last few days of breeze. I’ve gotten some feedback that the last post was too long, so I’ll try and keep this one a bit shorter.

Race 7 – punched out a little bit too much on a black flag start BFD.

Race 8 – The pin end was biased by about 10-15 degrees after a left shift during the start sequence. I started towards the middle with a good lane and was able to tack and cross immediately. I stuck towards the right of the fleet, and dropped back a bit on the leaders by falling out of phase with every shift. I eventually decided to head all the way right after seeing some others make gains out there, and was able to find a good lane to round the top in 12th.

Managed to gain a boat on the reach, by sailing a shorter/lower course. From there, I worked the middle right of the downwind, and lost a few boats from being in dirtier air. 15th at the gate. Similar to the first upwind, I played a few shifts early in the beat, before heading out to the right after losing some ground initially. Found some good pressure on the right, but never got any decent shift out of it. A little right-hander on the layline helped me recover a bit to round the top in 20th.

I sailed the middle of the last downwind, and was making good gains, until the end when I crossed towards the inside of our next mark to  protect the inside advantage. Two boats who stayed wide managed to sneak in front of me with a little better pressure. 21st at the gate.

Held my place on the reach, as the wind began to die. The last upwind turned in to a bit of a mess with super light pressure, and lots of coach boat wake/swell. I was looking good on the starboard layline for the finish, but got lee bowed and had to double tack to clear my lane. 23rd at the finish.

A tough race, but I was generally happy with how I managed the tricky conditions. Two more days to work on keeping decent positions…

Lessons from today;

  1. In short oscillating shifts, it’s really important to stay in phase with the leaders through every shift. You can’t afford to get lazy and sail through some of the shifts.

Day 5

5-8 knots NE wind with a small chop.

A frustrating day with some questionable mark incidents and average second upwinds.

Race 9 – Started towards the pin end on a slightly boat biased line; expecting the left side to pay as we had seen most of the week. I had a good start about 10 boats up from the pin and was able to cross 10 boats pretty early before tacking under a punched committee boat group. Worked a few oscillations on the left but ultimately lost out by getting caught in the ‘Bermuda triangle’ under the top mark. 18th at the top.

Didn’t really assess my position on the reach, and tried to sail the rhumb line but ended up getting covered by the group above me who went high road. 21st at the wing mark.

Initially went by the lee on the run, and then straightened up and was making good progress on the mid right (looking upwind). I then started searching for pressure on a broad reach angle and ended up sailing all the way across to the left group. That put me on the outside of a 5 boat pack at the right turn gate, meaning I rounded the gate in 26th. Would’ve been better to stay on the right and go to the much less crowded left turn gate…

Lost a few places out of the gate from dirty air in the group around me, and tacked back towards in the middle after a couple of minutes. Big mistake. I ended up getting bounced around in dirty air in the middle of the fleet to round the second top mark in 48th. Some of the boats who were around me at the gate pretty much sailed straight to the port layline and didn’t lose any places.

Then tried to sail as fast as possible, straight to the subsequent marks. I made a nice move at the last mark, going outside around a big pack of boats fighting for the inside spot. I was then able to sail low groove all the way to starboard layline of the finish line, to finish the race in 43rd.

Race 10 – Really good start towards in the pin on a 5 degree pin biased line – this put me in  bow ahead immediately after the start, but unable to tack and cross. My position deteriorated through the first half of the beat thanks to a gradual right shift. Then made a similar mistake to the previous race but on a much grander scale… Not wanting to get too close to the port layline, I tacked early and ended up below the vast majority of the fleet. This left me sailing over a third of the beat in the dirty air of 1/4 of the fleet. 45th at the top mark.

Sailed a pretty good reach with clear and good speed – 41st at the wing mark. I kept sailing down the left of the run (looking upwind) with good pressure and speed, and made up some good ground. Then coming in to the gate, but outside the zone, I was caught on the inside of a 5-boat luffing battle for the inside overlap. The luffing battle got so extreme that I ended up having to tack just to get around the gate…on a downwind. This led to an ultimately dismissed protest, but cost me quite a few places. 50th at the gate.

I decided to go all the way to the port layline, as the left had been significantly better in most of the second upwinds thus far. Except for this one…where I lost a place. There was a long right hand shift for most of upwind with no decent opportunities to tack back on. 51st at the second top.

I then went hell for leather on the downwind, and managed to gain a few places thanks to some good pace. Tried to keep gaining on the last reach and upwind, but ultimately finished the race in 48th. Not the best day…

Lessons from today;

  1. Make sure to get your protest in before the time limit, even if it means filling it out in your sailing gear…
  2. In light to moderate air, avoid the ‘Bermuda triangle’ upwind at all costs, unless clearly at the front of the fleet. The dirty air created by the converging fleet in the triangle area below the top mark is a sure fire way to lose places. Whilst laylines and possibly overlaying are costly, being stuck in dirty air for significant periods of time is even more costly.

 

Day 6

Last day of racing – 10-12 knots of NE wind with a bit of building wind swell.

Another day with only one race to talk about…

Race 11 – After a few general recalls, I decided to start at the leeward end of the main group  on a heavily boat favoured line. I accelerated early, and was one of the most visible boats due to being at the leeward edge of the main pack. BFD…Whoops.

Race 12 – Eager for redemption after sitting out the first race, I had a similar plan to the first one. There tended to be a bit of boat end bias/a right hand shift in the first half of the first upwind, so I started towards the leeward end of the ‘committee boat group’ – about 1/3 of the way down the line. I got a good start and was able to continue on starboard for a long way. I then worked the left in the second half of the beat, and lost a few places in an ill timed tack back to the middle in dirty air, but then managed to get to the port layline and come in to the mark with speed. 18th at the top mark.

I wasn’t able to commit to going high enough on the reach to keep a clear lane, and lost a few places early. A few miracle waves coming in to the wing mark were a saving grace, meaning I only lost two places. 20th at mark 2.

Picked the wrong side of the first downwind, and a group with better pressure on the left managed to gain some ground during the run. 25th at the gate.

Went for the right turn gate, and continued on starboard for roughly 1/2 of the beat. I had a good lane, and waited for an opportunity to tack back. Eventually got a bit of a lefty, and then played the middle after consolidating some gains. 21st at the 2nd top mark.

Had a good lane to the right of the rhumbline on the second downwind, but got a bit lost when trying to get back to the mark. Two boats who stayed on my inside snuck in front of me in the last 1/3 of the downwind. 23rd at the last gate.

I then sailed pretty cleanly for the rest of the race, and managed to finish in 23rd.

Lessons from today;

  1. Pretty basic one, but the last downwind really reiterated the importance of following gusts directly downwind, and then using the lulls to sail hard angles back to the mark. I lost places through not picking the right opportunities for sailing downwind vs sailing to the mark.
  2. Consider picking a spot on the start line which in the middle of a pack during a black flag start – will help keep you more covered by the boats around you.

The 2019 Worlds was a tough regatta as always, and didn’t end in the result that I know I was capable of. Nonetheless, I was able to improve on my previous Worlds results by a decent margin even with two BFD’s on my scorecard. Next up is the World Cup in Enoshima, which I plan on doing another journal for.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the Members of the International Laser Class Association

Dear Fellow ILCA Members,

As you may all be aware, the ILCA has recently sent out a vote to remove from the Class Rules the requirement that a builder must have the rights to use a Laser trademark. This rule change has arisen from World Sailing’s need for all Olympic Classes to allow any interested and qualified manufacturer to build Olympic equipment. If there are any licenses required, those need to be issued to new builders on a a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) basis.

Until recently, the Laser has been built and supplied by three major builders; Laser Performance (LP), Performance Sailcraft Australia (PSA), and Performance Sailcraft Japan (PSJ). Although simplified, these companies all own the rights to the “Laser” trademark and brand in the territories they supply – Japan and South Korea (PSJ), Oceania (PSA) and the rest of the world (LP).

In order for the Laser to comply with the World Sailing FRAND policies, the three builders need to reach an agreement to allow other builders to sell boats called “Lasers” in their territories, for a licensing fee.

They also need to reach this agreement by the 1st August.

There are significant disagreements between the builders about the amount of the licensing fee. Put simply, PSA and LP are at loggerheads and have been fighting each other in and out of court for over a decade.

The bottom line is, if the builders are not able to agree to a FRAND policy in the next three weeks, the Laser will be kicked out of the Olympics.

There is, however, an alternative solution to the licensing fee conundrum. The Laser is a commercial brand, and the class rules require that a builder “has the rights to use the Laser trademark”.

But what if we were to change that? This is what the most recent rule change is suggesting. If the rule change is passed, the following will be achieved;

  • New builders will be able to enter the market as they will not need to have a trademark agreement with the other builders.
  • Supply will be improved throughout the world as more builders enter the market.
  • Increased supply can encourage more people to sail the Laser, giving us more people to race against.
  • The Laser will be guaranteed to remain as an Olympic class, through compliance with World Sailing’s FRAND policies.

So what’s the only downside to voting “yes”? The boats and equipment supplied by new builders will not be sold under the brand name “Laser”.

Will they still be able to race at all Laser events? Absolutely.

Will they be 100% class legal? Absolutely.

Will this mean that the name of the class and regattas will have to change from the “Laser”? Absolutely not.

ILCA has recently signed an agreement with Laser Performance which will allow them to continue using the word “Laser” for all events, and matters relating to the class association into the foreseeable future.

Now some of you might be asking, “why bother making all these changes just to keep the Laser in the Olympics?”

Whilst I agree that the Laser would be a strong class without the Olympics, if the Laser were no longer in the Olympics, I can see at least 200+ Olympic campaigners ditching the Laser to pursue their Olympic dream in another class.

Not only that, but the Olympic dream is one of the main drivers behind youth participation in the Laser. I’ll be the first one to admit that Olympic status was a big draw card for me taking up, and continuing in the Laser. I’m sure that many other youth and Olympic campaigners will say the same.

If the Olympics were held in another class, eventually the WS Youth Worlds would adopt that class as their single-handed equipment, and the entire youth sailing landscape would shift slowly to that equipment.

Further, the Laser is the only equipment which allows Olympic participation at a global scale. During the recent World Sailing Olympic Equipment decisions, a number of countries said that they would not be able to continue Olympic sailing without the Laser.

In addition, Olympic status increases the amount of technique development and second hand equipment available around the world, leading to higher quality and more competitive racing for all.

So my call to you, ILCA members, is to vote ‘yes’ to guarantee the Laser has a spot in the Olympics. If the rules are changed and the builders still reach an agreement, great, nothing changes, but a ‘yes’ vote is the only way to ensure our great class stays Olympic.

Cheers,

Dan Self

Laser Sailor, Laser Dealer and Queensland Laser Association Vice Chairperson

Vote now here – http://www.laserinternational.org/blog/2019/07/01/voting-now-open-for-proposed-2019-ilca-rule-change/

 

Laser Standard Worlds 2019 – Racing Pt 1

Day 1;

After an hour and a half delay on shore for the breeze to fill in, we finally got sent out at 11:20. We began racing in 6-8 knots from a North-Easterly direction.

Race 1 –10+ degree biased line towards the pin end. The majority of the fleet were starting near the pin. I had a decent gap about 1/3 of the way up from the pin with 40 seconds to go, but stupidly, I decided to bear away to check my distance to the line. In doing so, I reduced my leeward gap and ended up starting immediately to windward of the boat below me. A few tacks later and I managed to find a decent lane on port and tacked on to the next right-hander and sailed with clear air to the port layline. 29th at the top mark.

As there was a large left hand shift throughout the first leg, the priority on the reach was to go high, but having tacked in at the last minute at the top, that wasn’t really an option. Tried to work high on the reach, but was stuck in dirty air. 37th at the 2nd mark.

Started the downwind by going hard by the lee, but eventually straightened up and was making gains going boom-back rather than by the lee. Got a bit lost in the second half of the run and struggled to get back to the gate in dirty air. 42nd at the gate.

Rounded the left turn-gate, was already on the lifted tack and made some initial gains which I never consolidated. Continued out to the starboard layline and had to tack in to a persistent right hand shift. 47th at 2nd top mark.

Managed to work the middle of the run with decent pressure, and made some gains on guys who had sailed too much distance away from the rhumb line. 45th at 2nd gate rounding.

Held my position on the last reach, and carried on to the starboard layline of the finish line on the last upwind. I had a good lane, but when I tacked, got caught in a large patch of dirty/light air. Lost three places to the boats who went to the port layline. 48th.

Race 2 – 7 boats scored BFD in the 2nd start attempt. Started under a black flag with an even line. I was about 10 boats up from the pin, in a relatively un-cogested area. I was able to hold my lane until the port layline, but the breeze was in a long right hand phase for the first half of the beat. The Croatians who started at the pin got a bit of jump in the first lefty and were able to tack and cross before the layline. I ended up slighty overlaid in the left hand shift, but rounded the top in 20th.

I had to crash tack in to the top mark and ended up hitting the mark, then lost about 5 boats after doing my 360. worked the rhumb line on the reach, whilst the rest of the fleet sailed ‘the great circle route’; I rounded the 2nd mark in 22nd.

After initially wanting to go left on the downwind (looking downwind), I was getting covered and decided to head back across to the right. Worked in the middle right in decent pressure, but ended up sailing a bit too much distance to get clear air, and a group of boats in the middle caught up. 27th at the gate.

Worked the left side of the upwind after rounding the right turn gate. The guys ahead of me tacked 1/3 of the way up the beat in a small lefty. I continued on and the breeze went back in to a right hand phase. Ended up near the port layline, having lost a lot of boats in the right hand shift which stayed in for the rest of the beat. 41st at top mark.

Had a good lane with good speed down the middle of the second run. Managed to pass a few boats who sailed away from the middle. 37th at the 2nd gate, and stayed there on the last reach. Went for the starboard layline of the finish line, and lost one boat on the port layline in a left shift. 38th at the finish.

Overall disappointing day having lost so many places in the second half of each race. Tomorrow’s forecast has a bit more wind, which I’m looking forward to.

Lessons from the day;

  1. If in a good gap with <1min. to the start, just stay calm and hold your gap.
  2. Don’t be afraid to tack back to the middle of the second upwind. Assuming you’ll have clear air. It’s okay to be cautious of the ‘danger zones’ immediately after the gate, but tacking in the first 1/3 of the 2nd beat is good for consolidating early gains; especially when trying to mount a comeback.
  3. Need to commit early to high vs low path on the reach. Can’t get caught in the middle and in the dirty air of the ‘high road’ boats.

Day 2

12-16kts with a building, steep chop.

Race 3 – Fairly even line, but decided to start towards the pin as the previous fleets seemed to have a long left shift. The start was under a black flag, and I got a good start with a solid lane about 1/3 of the way up from the pin. The breeze slowly went in to a small left phase, but I had to wait for the boats above me to tack to get on to port. Sailed back to the middle, and tacked once I was hit by a right shift. Tacked just under the port layline and got a nice left shift to take me in to the top mark. 24th at the top.

Being in red fleet for today, we sailed an inner loop with a spacer leg after the top mark. Caught a few good waves in the first few minutes of the run and gained some ground. After that however, I lost my rhythm and got stuck in dirty/lighter air. I then had to try and work my way to the right of the course to try and find some clear air. Had trouble getting back to the mark under the converging fleet. 37th at the gate.

I didn’t want to make the same mistake as yesterday by not consolidating small gains on the second beat. So after sailing for a few minutes from the right turn gate, I tacked on to a small left shift. Sailed back to the middle and tried to work a few shifts there, but eventually I had to make my way to the left, after boats who had gone hard left made good gains there. Tried to minimise my losses to the left boats and rounded the top in 41st.

Gained a couple of boats on the reach and rounded the next mark in 39th. Tried working the middle of the run, with a bit better speed than the first one, but lost a place to my teammate Sam, who had a bit better pressure than me. 40th at the gate, and stayed there until the finish.

Race 4 – Nearly didn’t start this race…as I was sailing upwind immediately after the 5min gun, my clew strap came undone, and I was stuck above the start line trying to reattach my clew strap in 12 knots of wind. Finally got it back on with 2.5 mins to the start, but I didn’t really have a plan for the race. I decided to start near the pin, as there tended to be a major left hand shift on each upwind.

Immediately before the start there was a large left hand shift, and I started about 10 boats up from the pin, having nailed my transit with a good gap below me. The breeze keeps going further left, with my compass showing the furthest left shift we’d seen all day. I was able to hold my lane, and waited for about two minutes before I finally got the opportunity to tack and cross a big group of boats. I had a good lane, and good speed with Tom Saunders (NZL) above me, and Matt Wearn (AUS) and JB Bernaz (FRA) below me, but punched well in front. I was able to keep heading back towards the middle, as the breeze started slowly shifting back to the right. I crossed Phillip Buhl (GER) once he tacked in to the righty, but I thought the angle on port was still good. I sailed for a bit longer past GER before tacking after it shifted further right. It continued shifting right, I took the shift nearly the most of the way to the port layline. Tacked in to starboard lay and rounded the top in 5th.

I worked the middle right of the downwind, and made some gains on the boats who went left, but ended up losing one place. I had a much better technique this time around, only going by the lee after catching waves on a broad reach angle. It was too hard to catch waves by the lee, so gaining speed by hotting up and then soaking seemed to work well. 6th at the gate.

Rounded the right turn gate, and eventually tacked along with the a few of the guys in front of me. Sailed towards the middle with an average angle and average speed, and ended up tacking in a small righty. The boats behind me had made some bigger gains on the left. I did a crappy tack in to a  crappy lane, and eventually got squeezed out. I chipped back out to the port layline and rounded the top mark in 12th.

Lost a place to Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) on the reach, and then sailed the middle of the downwind with good speed thanks to my newly acquired technique. I gained a bit of distance on the boats in front of me, but stayed in 13th until the finish. Ended up 12th as one of the boats in front of me was UFD. This was easily my best race at a Senior World Championships, and it was great to be mixing it up with the top guys. Tomorrow’s forecast has a bit more wind still, so I’ll be looking to finish up qualifying on a strong note.

Lessons learnt today;

  1. Multiple boats tacking on the second upwind is usually good sign that you’re making gains.
  2. Downwind technique – see above.

Day 3

14-18 knots from a similar direction as yesterday, with a solid wind swell.

Race 5 – Pretty even line, and I started towards the pin as there seemed to be a trend towards the left. I had a decent lane, but was a little bit bow back due to an average acceleration. I then had to go high groove to try and pinch off the boats above me, and ended up losing a few boat lengths to the boats below me. This was enough for them to tack and cross in the first left shift, and I had to go a bit further in to it have a clear lane. It wasn’t looking to great at the time, and a pack of boats crossed me and then tacked above me. I was holding on to the leeward edge of that group, and then the wind started dialing up to the left coming in to the top mark. I tacked in to the starboard layline and rounded the top mark in 30th.

Doing the outer loop today, I went high initially on the reach, and then made some good gains thanks to consistent planing to round the wing mark in 27th. I then looked to utilise the same downwind technique from yesterday, and managed to stay fast with a good lane throughout the run. This was my best run of the regatta, and managed to jump up to 22nd. I worked the left of the second upwind, and made some gains on the boats that went right, but also lost a couple of boats. In the end though, I gained another two spots to round the top mark in 20th. I stayed there for the rest of the race. 20th at the finish.

Race 6 – Started in a similar position to the last race, with a better acceleration and was able to hold my lane for a good length of time. I think I was a bit bow back from the line, as a group a boats above me were a bit bow forward, so I had to wait for them to tack on the left shift which occurred after the start. The boats who started at the pin were able to tack earlier and got back to the first right shift, meaning they’d already got a bit of an advantage, so I was left a bit behind. Similar to the last race, I had a decent lane on port until I had a boat tack right in front of me. I was stuck in his dirty air, but stayed there for a while as we were in a big left hand shift.  I tacked on the first sign of a right-hander, and found a new lane on port to take me to the top mark. 30th at the top.

Worked the middle of the reach, and lost a single boat due to poor speed in the first half of the leg. 31st at the wing mark. Sailed down the middle right of the run, and managed to find a decent path back to the gate, meaning I stayed in 31st.

The 2nd upwind was a bit of strange one – the boats who rounded the gate immediately in front of me tacked early, and made some good gains on the right without any noticeable right shift. I worked my way over there to try and cash in to the same gains, but ended up missing the last big left-hander in to the top mark. 34th at the top.

Similar plan for the last downwind, but I ended up sailing a bit too much distance out of pressure, and lost a place to a boat who sailed closer to the rhumbline. I was 35th at the last gate, but managed to catch that place back up on the last reach. I stayed in 34th to the finish.

That’s the end of the qualifying series, and despite not sailing at my best the whole time, I’m pretty happy to finally make it out of bronze fleet for a first time at the worlds. 97th overall at the end of qualifying.

Lesson from the day;

  1. Once you’ve opened up a good lane after the start, use the space around you to sail at maximum speed to try and punch out from the boats around you. After both starts, I sailed a bit too much high groove after opening my gap, and lost valuable ground in to the first shift.

 

Laser Worlds 2019 Journal

After a short hiatus from this blog, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts detailing my experiences at various regattas. The aim is to give a bit of an insight in to what it takes to race in Olympic-level fleets, as well as sharing the lessons that I learn at these events to help everyone reading learn from my mistakes.

The first regatta I’ll talk about is the upcoming 2019 Laser Standard Men’s World Championships being held in Sakaiminato, Japan. Having lived in Tokyo for most of my childhood, I’m quite comfortable in Japan and it is always good to come back to my ‘second home’. Despite, living in Japan for so long, I’ve never been to this part of the country, and it is quite a stark contrast to the urban metropolis which is Tokyo.

Sakaiminato is a small fishing village located on Miho Bay in Tottori prefecture. According to the Japanese sailors, Sakaiminato is known as a strong wind venue…just not at this time of year.

As the wind arrows show, the wind rarely is generally between 10-15kts (5-7m/s), and that has proven accurate in the training thus far. The windiest training race we’ve done was in about 16kts with most of the training done in marginal hiking conditions. The sea state is mostly a short chop, not dissimilar to my home venue – Waterloo Bay in Brisbane. There also seems to be a bit of tidal flow, most likely attributed to the presence of the “Nakaumi – literally middle sea”. The Nakaumi is linked to Miho bay by a small river which opens up not too far from the regatta venue.

Training this week has consisted of a lot of racing, a bit of speed testing, and some starting practice. It is always good training prior to a big regatta as there are a lot of people to train with, and everyone is at their best. Although, it can sometimes get a bit out of hand with 80+ boats joining the training races, leading to some hectic rabbit starts.

In such a big fleet, it’s insanely important to keep clear air, and if you’ve already got a clear lane, to minimise tacking. It’s really easy to get caught up trying to tack on every small shift and end up sailing in dirty air, in the middle of the fleet.

My other big takeaway from the training days here, is about how important it is to use a number of inputs to judge your upwind angle (ie lifted or knocked). You can’t rely solely on your compass to judge shifts, it’s also important to look at the angles of the boats around you. In one of the practice races, I made the mistake of staying on a knock for far too long. Even though my compass was saying I was lifted, my bow was beginning to drop down in to the boats below me – a tell tale sign of a header.

I’ve got one more day left of training before racing on Thursday, stay tuned for the regatta journal.

Laser Electronic Compass

Due to a change to the Laser class rules as of 1st January 2018, the use of an electronic compass is now legal. For years, sailors had debated whether or not to use an analog compass. For a long time, they were bulky and added too much weight to the boat and as such, a lot of top sailors chose not to use them. Then in the last few years, a large number of sailors began to use the Carbonparts Analog compass which reduced the weight penalty of using a compass significantly. Now, with the change of class rules, I see no reason for you not to use a compass on your boat.

I recently began using the Tacktick Micro Compass – one of only three types of compass currently allowed on the Laser, with a Carbonparts mount. I can say quite honestly that this is one of the few Laser upgrades which has significantly changed my sailing. Using an electronic compass has helped make strategic and tactical decisions as close to thoughtless as possible.

The Tacktick Micro is solar powered and comes in a triangle shape to allow easy viewing on both port and starboard tack. Also in-built in to the compass is a start watch feature however, I have found that I still prefer to use my regular start watch as it saves me from playing around with the compass too much. Further, the Micro has both a bearing (reading your actual heading) and a tactical mode which estimates the wind direction based on your bearing and pre-set tacking angle. Both of these modes can be used to help pick wind shifts, but I have found that I prefer using the compass in the tactical setting. This allows me to relate the changes in bearing/wind direction to the bearing of the course.

Whilst this compass isn’t specific to the Laser, when using the Carbonparts bracket, you can mount the compass anywhere on the deck using the 3M Dual-lock velcro included. Whilst some sailors have experimented with mounting the compass in front of the mast to promote vision outside the boat, I’ve found that this leaves the compass too vulnerable to booms and/or being washed overboard.

To conclude, allowing the use of electronic compasses on the Laser is a huge leap forward for the class. Nearly every other class uses electronic compasses, and now it is a no-brainer to use one in the Laser.

Zhik Clothing Chart

Zhik has a wide range of clothing options to suit your dinghy needs. I frequently get asked about which material is the best for certain conditions. At a glance, it seems that there are multiple options for the same conditions. This chart aims to help make your clothing choices easier.

In this chart, the items that were considered are the following.

Bottoms – Superwarm Skiff Suit/Robert Scheidt Hikers, Microfleece Skiff Suit/Robert Scheidt Hikers, Hybrid Suit

Tops – Superwarm Top, Orspan Top, Zskin Top, Hydrophobic Top, Spandex Top

For any other Zhik Gear not found our website, please contact us  for the best price on the market!

 

 

Zhik Robert Scheidt Hiker Review

In trying to stick with my goal of 1 post here per month, this is my slightly delayed February post. Another post for March can be expected later in the month!

For many years, Powerpads were the only hiking pad option available from world-leading sailing apparel brand Zhik. However, with the help of 9-time Laser World Champion Robert Scheidt, Zhik released the “Robert Scheidt Hiker” in late 2016. I was personally quite slow to adopt these hikers as I initially didn’t see the need for them, but having been using them for over six months now, my opinion has changed completely.

These hiking pants feature fixed 4 batten hiking pads with the option to add an additional foam layer for extra hiking height. They come in either a Microfleece model for warmer conditions, or a Superwarm model for when it gets colder. The pants are full length with shoulder straps to adjust the height of the suit. The placement of the pads seems to be pretty good, but this can be dependent on the proportions of your legs. As for the sizing of the wetsuit, I would recommend erring on the smaller side (especially for the Microfleece model) as the neoprene tends to stretch with age and water. For example, I know sailors who would suit an L on the Zhik size chart, but wear an S in this wetsuit.

Powerpads vs Robert Scheidt Hikers

Now that Zhik have two options for hiking pants on offer, which one is the best for you? Personally, I’ll be using the Robert Scheidt hikers from now on. However, the original Powerpads still have a place for those who enjoy the flexibility of them. Powerpads can be used with any combination of sailing shorts/wetsuit, whereas Robert Scheidt Hikers lock you in to one of two models. This can be a nuisance in extremely warm conditions when even a Microfleece wetsuit is too warm. However, the lower profile of the hiking pads and the fixed nature of them in the Robert Scheidt Hikers is more important than the flexibility, at least in my mind.

To wrap up, the new hiking pants offering from Zhik, the Robert Scheidt Hikers, are an eye-opening product well worth considering when looking for a new hiking solution.

Dan

Purchase your new Robert Scheidt Hikers from the sail27 online store