Cheating Death

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Cheating Death

This "how-to" piece on bearing away in a skiff is the first in a series of excellent articles we’ve gotten from our newest SA expert, an internationally renowned coach that we’ll call "Sherpa Tenzing."

Picture the scene; it’s blowing 18 knots with wind over tide in Hayling Bay. A daunting prospect in most classes, but, it’s enough to send shivers the back of a Skiff Sailors back. The reason becomes all too apparent as you reach the end of the first beat and the mind focuses on the inevitable grave yard that is the windward mark!  It’s the Everest for a club 49’er sailor and a moment of uncertainty for any sailor in high performance classes. So what is it about the top turn that makes it so hard? This article looks to expose the myths of the windy bear-away and give you some hints to help stay away from the Mine.

The Skill Components
As with any skill, it is far easier to tackle the bear away in bite size chunks. Let’s consider the manoeuvre in 4 Zone: the Entry, the Death Zone, the Recovery and the Exit.

The Entry
Two things need to happen before you can attempt a bear-away in breeze: Sail setup and boat balance. Both are critical but even more essential is maintaining boat speed. Enter with speed and the apparent wind will ensure that the main doesn’t load up and the turn will seem so much easier.