Throughout the history of sailing it is rarely the fastest sailor that wins a series, In most conditions it is necessary to be fast to win but that’s not all.
Winning takes many disciplines to master, a crucial one is the ability to observe your surroundings.
We have the pre race weather observations, in which we look for what the current is doing, how the wind is behaving and what is triggering the wind to either shift or gust during a race. This information gives us enough data to plan our general race, where we want to start, where we want to go, etc.
We have weather observations while racing, keeping track of what the clouds are doing, what the shifts are doing what is changing in both our immediate and distant surroundings, do we have a gust coming or a wind hole and more, this information will provide us with data on how to react if it is trimming our sails, tacking, gybing, changing sailing mode or going for the gust.
Another type is the race track observation, where are the marks, where are they relative to me while racing, where is the finish line, you can’t have a good race if you over lay by a big distance so knowing where your goal is crucial for your performance as a sailor.
Fleet observation is the next in our list, knowing what the fleet is doing might affect our decisions while racing, finding the right time to tack in order to defend our position or to make a gain for the next shift, am I getting closer to the fleet or away from the fleet is important for calculating risk during a race.
Single boat observations are just as important, although in big fleets the behaviour of a single boat for itself is insignificant knowing what the boats around me are doing may help make better decisions and avoid big headaches with being surprised by a boat approaching me on star board while I am on port or by a port boat not seeing me, this is just one example of the rule aspect of knowing what is happening around me, When we engage in close action against a limited number of boats it becomes more important as we must remember we are racing against boat, so will help us to decide when to consolidate and where to position ourselves.
The amount of data to process during racing is almost infinite, many sailors will ask themselves how the top dogs do it? How can they see everything and process it in a manner that will also leave them time to sail the boat and make it go fast.
The answer to that is something we refer to as the cycle of tasks, each individual has a certain attention span. If we focus just on one element for example driving the boat we will miss out on the other elements needed to win, That is why you may see very fast sailors making ridiculous mistakes and other slower boats winning. The top dogs have developed over time an ability to systematically shift their focus between the different elements in a manner that will allow them to give just enough attention to each of them to satisfy the performance needs for an overall outcome that is greater than just the sum of all elements, It is important to understand that different conditions require a different cycle, the same applies to different classes and different phases of the race.
During our training at toplevel Sailing we develop the concept of the cycle with our sailors and lay down the basic guidelines for them to perfect their own cycle in a systematic manner.
If you are interested in becoming a top dog join our training program and we will do our best to provide the tools for winning