The event in Cornwall was a lot of fun - it's such a great location. I made a point of touring the local beaches and countryside for my own enjoyment because when I like a place I feel confident, positive and motivated. I find that this has a direct affect on my performance. I spent a week in Marazion before the event to get tuned up properly and prepare my gear. Unfortunately as people rolled up for the event, the wind disappeared and didn't re-appear until Easter Monday. It was a beautiful weekend though and time seemed to just fly by. Monday came and so did the wind. It was worth the wait because we got some action packed, tactical racing. It wasn't an easy breeze to sail round the course; it was all about staying in the gusts, reading the shift patterns and using St Michaels Mount for wind bends and lifts to create advantages over opponents. So here are my tips from watching the other fleets sail in the light and shifty winds.
A lot of sailors at the Marazion event weren't planing as they went over the start line and that's because they were waiting too long to start moving! It is important to plane at least 20 seconds before the start gun to then hit the line with speed. If you are not hitting the line with speed then you can wave goodbye to any reasonable finishing position. If you are approaching the start line and someone in front of you isn't moving and isn't making any indication of starting to, then duck below them and increase your speed in order to hit the line as fast as possible for the start gun. It is THE most important tactic.
Go the RIGHT way
Choosing the right side of the course is a close second though, if you are going like the clappers and heading for a big lull then that is not good. Notice where there is a windy patch on the course and go off the line heading for that. It sounds obvious but you have to stay in the wind to get maximum speed; this really is a priority. Once you have worked out the correct side of the course to sail on (towards a gust), then make sure you have a space in front for yourself to plane as the seconds tick away until the start gun where you hit it with max speed.
When the wind gets really light, I straighten my body and arms but push my shoulders back. Doing this takes the weight off your feet and encourages the board to lift. This technique will help you sail through the lulls.
To get on the plane keep the sail in a very upright position keeping your hands shoulder width apart. Pump the sail and simultaneously pump the board with the feet. Don't pump violently and just shake the sail as this just tires you out and there is no advantage! Instead, feel the power in the sail as you pull against it in a smooth motion pushing out with the legs as you pull in the sail. This encourages the board in a forward motion and aids earlier planing. Do not be too eager to step back too early, this may kill the power and speed you have created.
Get on the water and set a transit or imaginary start line, use a watch and set up an imaginary start. Go out in as light a winds possible and keep practicing until you have really nailed it. You may surprise yourself at your next event.
PHOTOS: thanks to UKWA