Spotting the Gains

In sailboat racing, risk factor can make the difference between a very good race and a bad one. We have been discussing risk management in many different forms, the fact is that most successful sailors have a great ability to manage their risks in a heartbeat. Some would say it is a gift people are born with, we argue and claim risk management is an acquired skill.

One of the key risk management factors is the ability to spot small gains or loses, spotting the big ones is relatively easy, but while we wait for the big gains we probably will be missing a lot of smaller gains, needless to say many times the big gains don’t come so we end up losing many boat lengths.

When we spot a small gain there are certain measures to take in order to make sure we keep it. That is called consolidating. It would usually mean we will be sailing towards our competitors to reduce the distance between us, the same is valid both upwind and downwind in almost every class.

When we are making a gain that puts us ahead of a competing boat it is usually easier to spot for most sailors, the hardest part is to be able to spot those small gains when you are behind and simply getting closer. If we develop that ability we will be able to slowly get closer to our competition, when we are close enough we can wait for the right moment to attack and overtake that boat.

A very wise business man once told me “I never lost money from making small gains”. However, you must not become blind to the big gains when searching for the smaller ones.

If we can adopt that approach to sailing we should ensure consistency in our results. We at TopLevel Sailing strongly believe in that approach and take measures to develop the ability to manage risk, spot gains and consolidate them on a regular basis.

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