Saturday, 28 September 2013

How do the pro's tack?

One area of sailing that has been on my mind lately, in terms of coaching and my own personal sailing is the tack.
In tacks, it seems to me that there are several consistencies through most wind strengths, and between boats that are fundamental to a good tack.

As a manoeuvre it can be done at a fairly simple level, success comes easily.
Some will be happy with coming out of their tack with the wind on the other side of the sails, and sat on the new side of the boat. Others strive for a more complete tacking experience, aiming to control the rudder through the tack and steer tidily through the minimum distance required coming out plum on the wind on the new tack.
Others will delve further into the mysteries of maintaining speed through the turn seeking out the roll tack.

However I have found from coaching and sailing at club level and at open meetings, that there is a difference from most of the tacks I see (and most of the time do myself) and what the best in the world are doing.
Have a look at this video and see what you think.

I am sure most can identify a few points that could do with practise in their own tack, myself included.
I am always impressed by the speed that is maintained throughout each of the tacks.
How is this done? It is subtle and needs a good watch of videos to really appreciate what is happening.

 The key areas that I find really sets these tacks apart from the average, is the entry and the flick through the wind.
First the entry. Focus on the tiller movement in the videos. It isn't a sudden movement, but rather a gradual progressive action.
The boat is gradually introduced to the tack, very slight leeward heel and the main sheeted in encourages the boat to sail in to the turn.

The Flick. Just before the boat reaches head to wind, as the power starts to come out of the sail, the boat is rolled aggressively to windward, coordinated with an increase in the amount of rudder used.
The timing and force of this is probably the hardest part of the tack.
Done well, as can be seen from the videos, the boat spins through the eye of the wind with speed.

For me the second tack by Paul Goodison is about as near to perfect as I have seen, and leaves me with no doubt of the countless hours he has spent honing his skill, and why he is deservedly one of the best sailors in the world.

What I see are main advantages from the above are....
The entry being gradual, carries speed into the tack, and also gains ground upwind on every tack, compared to tacks that are initiated with a more aggressive rudder movement.

The flick through the wind gets the boat through the no power zone quickly, and also seems to give a pump to the sail to give the boat speed at this critical moment.

YouTube is a fantastic resource, spend a while analysing a few of the best tacks on the web, and picture yourself in the boat. Then put it in to practise.

Happy sailing

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