How to get to the finish faster and
have more fun through
understanding a little bit more
about what the hell is going on!
Sailing fast is what wins races at
the club level.
The goal of this course is present some
mathematical and physical tools that
may give some insight and help sailors
develop strategies to get around a race
course faster. It will NOT cover such
matters as sail trim or tuning, though
they may be touched on.
Topics to be Discussed
• Strategy vs. Tactics
• How the motion of the boat affects
the wind that acts on it. True and
Apparent Wind and the Strategies
that make use of understanding.
• The Around-the-Buoys Race Course
and the difference in importance of
different parts of it.
Strategy vs. Tactics
• Strategy is your plan to get where you
want to go as fast as possible, in the
absence of competitors. That’s mostly
what this course is about.
• Tactics have to do with what you do to
beat your competitors. For example, that
would include using the rules, gassing and
True and Apparent Wind
• Telling the difference between changes
in wind speed and direction.
• A strategic approach to deal with lifts and
headers when going to windward.
• A Strategic approach to the off-wind legs.
Use your speed to help the crew and to get
to the next mark fast. That does not
mean that you should always sail at
When a Little Extra Effort Can
Pay Big Dividends.
Work on trying the hardest when the going
is the most tedious.
VMG (Velocity Made Good) is often the key
Remember that the goal is to keep the time
average of VMG as high as possible.
The “True” Length of the Course
The distance through the water is almost
always longer than the measured course
That extra distance is especially large on
windward legs and, to a lesser extent, runs
(a function of boat type).
The extra distance depends strongly on
the details of the course.
• You are standing in the middle of a big field
with a moderate breeze (say 15 mph) blowing
and your friend George is 100 feet to
windward. You find that you can easily
understand what he’s saying, but you have to
shout for him to hear anything at all. A writer
might say “the words were ripped from your
mouth”, but that’s nonsense. The speed of
sound is ~1000 ft/s and the wind is ~ 20 ft/s,
so the wind is a negligible fraction of the
speed of sound. What’s going on?