LSC Crew Notes - May 29, 2003

Information for Crew Involved in Racing with Members of the Lansing Sailing Club.

Thirteen Practiced in Five Boats Last Tuesday
We had five Lightnings on the water last Tuesday. It was an opportunity for the 13 of us who participated to work on some specific skills. Read on for more information.

Practice Tuesday, June 3
Please feel welcome to join us for some practice next Tuesday - 6 PM to sundown. It is helpful to email Pat Dolan, LSC's Crew Coordinator ahead of time to let him know you are coming. This will help assure sufficient boats will be available to accommodate those participating. You can just show up - but no guarantees on whether there will be a spot for you. The goal is to to provide a structured opportunity for crew and skippers to expand their sailing skills. We will be doing this every Tuesday evening as long as there is an interest. Only lightning and very high winds keep us off the water. Assume we are practicing. If weather conditions are really bad, we have plenty of video to watch and "chalk talks" ready.

Let Us Know What Interests You
If there are some specific things you want to practice, send a note to LSC's Crew Coordinator. We are trying to tailor the sessions to those things crew and skippers tell us they want to work on.

Stop and Go
Last Tuesday we worked some on "Stop and Go". Stopping the boat quickly, mainly by backwinding the main - then getting the boat up to speed as fast as possible. These skills are particularly important in the pre-start portion of a race. A boat that is early want to slow down, or even stop and hold it's position. Then, as the clock ticks down to the start, it is critical to get the boat up to full speed quickly. Another place where knowing how to stop can be important is when coming in to the dock. As a reminder, here are some of the keys to these skills:

  1. When stopping the boat, the jib must luff and the main must be pushed out aggressively so that the wind is hitting the wrong side of the sail.
  2. If you don't want to stop completely, a crew can adjust these actions to control the speed of the boat. For example, let the jib luff, but keep just a little of the main full - or let the main luff and keep the jib partially full - or let both sails be partially luffing. As another example, the main can alternately be backwinded and filled.
  3. The skipper needs to keep the boat on a close reaching course - even if the sails are luffing. If the boat is on a beam reach, the main sail cannot be pushed out far enough to get wind on the back side of it. If the boat is headed above a close hauled course, the crew loses the ability to quickly fill the sails and get going again.
  4. Keeping the boat on a close hauled course with the sails luffing is a possibility - but the boat will get back up to full speed much more quickly if the boat is on a close reach.
  5. Smoothly trim the sails until they are full to get the boat going back to full speed. The skipper might even put the boat on a beam reach for a short period of time to build speed even more quickly. Don't pull the sails all the way in to a close hauled course yet - trim to gain speed on the reach first. Once speed is up, then come to a close hauled course.

Leeward Mark Roundings
We also worked on Leeward Mark roundings. The leeward mark rounding is one of the most important boat handling skills to master. A skipper and crew can gain a lot on other boats who don't do a good rounding. Here are some of the keys we emphasized. Keep in mind that these keys do not consider other boats being involved - we are just concerned about doing the best possible rounding without other boats around to contest us. We are assuming the spinnaker is down. Also, we are assuming that the mark will be on the port side of the boat during the rounding.

  1. Remember you are NOT TACKING around the mark - you are simply going from a downwind course on port tack to a close hauled course on port tack. You are not going "around" the mark - simply going past it on your way to the next mark.
  2. Approach the mark wide. The skipper should aim at an imaginary point about two or three boat lengths to the right of the mark.
  3. The turn to the mark is timed so that the boat is on a close hauled course when going past the mark - and close enough that the crew can reach out and touch the mark.
  4. The turn needs to be done smoothly with very little rudder movement. A sharp turn slows the boat. In a smooth turn the boat gains speed.
  5. Heel the boat to leeward to help it turn.
  6. Smoothly trim the main to a close hauled position to help turn the boat. There is a tendency to trim the main too slowly - or to pull it in so fast that your movements bounce wind out of the sail. It is very helpful if the middle crew member can trim the main during the rounding.
  7. As the boat begins turning toward the mark, let the front half of the jib luff. If the jib is full it keeps the boat from turning. Bring the jib in at a pace that is slightly slower than the main so that less and less of the jib is luffing as the turn is completed. When the boat gets to a closehauled course, the jib should be trimmed for closehauled.
  8. Get the spinnaker down early enough to make sure that all crew members can focus on doing a good rounding. All non-critical clean-up should wait until the boat is settled and going fast.
Copyright © 2003 by the Lansing Sailing Club, 6039 East Lake Drive, PO Box 51, Haslett, Michigan 48840.
Prepared by the LSC Crew Coordinator. Send suggestions and comments to the crew coordinator by going to the Contact Us page of the LSC web site. Lightning owners also receive copies of LSC Crew Notes.