Accelerating the boat in displacement mode under rule 42
The speed differences between sailors in displacement mode can make the difference between a champion and an average sailor, for many classes the big money is in the runs and the ability to be faster than others while still complying to rule 42 is a big issue.
In this blog we will illustrate what is allowed and what is preferrable, we will not discuss planning mode since the skills necessary to keep the boat planning are different to those of displacement mode.
The differences between double handers and single handers are minor and include the same skills
So how do we go fast?
There are a few steps along the way
Initially we need to ensure our sails are fully powered to generate as much speed as possible
Maintaining flow over the sails will ensure our power is used to move the boat forward in the most efficient way, so this means we never go directly downwind so that the telltales flop or the wind indicator points straight along the boat.
Ensuring our rig doesn’t produce any rudder pressure, the boat wants to sail in a straight line, in this way we will not need to use corrective rudder which will create drag in the water and slow down our boat.
These are the very basic skills to make our boat go fast.
Will a boat following those skills be fast? The answer is still no
In order to be fast we must help our boat propel itself, Bow steering skill is the use of heeling the boat through movement of bodyweight to steer the boat, when we bow steer we are not moving our rudder and not slowing our boat down by rudder drag.
Under rule 42 we are allowed to steer the boat and trim the sails by using bow steering to maintain speed, when we are heeling our boat to leeward it will want to luff up – the reason being that we want SPEED to get on the next wave and stay on it for as long as possible. That is the fundamental reason for going higher than appears optimum. When the boat luffs up we are allowed to trim the sails accordingly, the next step will be to steer the boat down the wave, we achieve that by bearing away using a windward heel to the boat, we can use the fact the boat needs to transit from a leeward heel to a windward heel which is called rolling by making it in one aggressive roll, when we do that we are increasing the air flow over the sails and creating a big pump which accelerates our boat, by allowing the boat to bear away with the windward heel we are steering the boat in a legal manner.
How much to luff up and how much to bear away? Depending on the conditions, it is recommended to luff up until the boat speeds up enough, depending on the class you will want to bear away surfing the wave for as long as possible and luffing up before the boat slows down, so knowing when to luff back up is a very important skill by itself. As a rough guide the top sailors usually have about a 90 degree angle between their high mode down to their sailing by the lee.
Be careful you are not repetitive with your rolls. Repetitive means repeating the action on a regular and usually rapid basis. Rule 42 states we are allowed a once per wave pump or roll, in some conditions the waves are very close by, or it might be difficult (impossible?) to surf the waves, but we CAN try under the rules, so we do. In that case you must ask yourself what is considered as a repetitive movement, so how often can we go? Will a roll every 10 seconds be considered as repetitive? Probably yes for a variety of conditions, how about 20 seconds? The only way to know the limit is try and learn what the jury will react to.
In a nutshell that is the entire story, creating the right set of skills teamed with the basic knowledge of rule 42.
During our training at Toplevel Sailing we ensure our sailors develop these skills to allow them to be fast as well as teaching them the basics of rule 42 and deciding when it becomes a repetitive action through video debriefs and our experiences with juries across the world.
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