Tail End Charlie, II
We said we wanted to make the SA Worlds a better event than most, and Jon ‘Bueno" Rogers helped us do that. Below, read his report and also that of the skipper of Uncontrollable Urge.
I started the "Tail End Charlie" coaching about 20 years ago in Santana 20’s to help light a fire under the folks that were placing near, or at the back of their races.
The theory was to inspire the less skilled folks and therefore the hotshots would also get a little fire up their rears when "Charlie" crossed them.
I had the opportunity this weekend to pick a team that had a lock of DFL all day Saturday – the Lumbo 30 Uncontrollable Urge. The small differences I noted on Saturday were they were struggling downwind with what appeared to be "reach-up-itis". They were consistently sailing higher than everyone else. In addition, they were being too conservative at the start and squeezing too high, too quickly out of their tacks.
I jumped on board the boat on Sunday morning for the sail out to the race course to see if it was a boat problem or a sailor problem.
The conclusion was they in fact were looking for too much pressure on the spinnaker sheet and therefore we worked on "soaking" lower on the runs and accepting a little less pressure on the sheet. We also added a big roll into the gybes to get the boom across sooner to help the skipper with the timing and prevent them from turning back upwind on the gybes.
We then worked on a few tacks and worked on rolling harder and waiting just a couple more seconds before we "boned" the jib in.
We then discussed the fact that when races aren’t going well we need to take more risk at the start by either starting closer to an end or "bow-out" in the middle of the line.
Conclusions: They did all three improvements well on Sunday and moved up several places each race. 18, 18 18 on Saturday, 13, 13, 10 on Sunday.
A fire was definitely lit under their competition and we don’t think those teams liked it much. Good for everyone. The experiment worked again.
This is Brian, the guest skipper of Uncontrollable Urge. A round of
thanks are in order. Good job on getting this regatta together Ed, and
to the CYC for hosting it. A huge nod to the brothers Gilmore for
trusting me to take their baby out to a regatta, with a brand new
main! Lastly, to Jon Rogers for spending time with us on the boat. Oh,
and Dr. Laura for being my moral compass.
The experience with Jon on board was great, if overwhelming. Once he
observed us doing what didn’t work from up close, he jumped into
action with feedback for everyone. He was a fire hose of information.
Seriously, he’s like the Bowditch of racing. He had excellent tips for
the South Bay and spotting the big wind shifts early. He had gems for
us in upwind technique as well as down wind. He was very polite in
saying that I’m a crappy driver, but he did have specific suggestions
for improvement there as well.
Jon gave us a piece of downwind advice that was golden that I’d love
to share. He basically said if you are in non-planing conditions and
are having fun, you are running too hot. Let’s hear it for j/105 mode!
Well, we took this seriously and worked very hard to employ this mode
downwind. I basically kept the helm straight and ran us 10-15 degrees
lower than the first day of the regatta. While the sensation of
plodding along in j/105 mode is shitty, however it improved our VMG
quite a bit. One memorable downwind leg, we rounded the offset mark
about 2 boat lengths behind Mosh Pit, with the same rating, but
rounded the leeward mark about 10 lengths ahead.
Getting another set of eyes on your boat to provide feedback is a
great tool. I think having Jon on board helped the boat more than any
pickle dish or brass spittoon would have. Good on ya’ everyone for hooking us