It is truly incredible the number of projects we have worked on where the sailors do not know how to recognise headers and lifts. When we ask them what happened to the wind during a training run, they can get it very wrong, and when we ask them what happened during a race, their impression is often at odds with reality, and completely wrong.
Not too long ago in a lot of classes crews could be seen visibly relaxing as the kite went up, and the procession began. Happily now in all racing we understand how to make gains and use the downwind to our advantage.
Anyone who has sailed against top sailors will know that many times you can be approaching half way up the first beat, and either in front of or in touch with some of the regatta favourites - often alongside them. A minute later the top sailor will have climbed on you, hit a gust of wind that you can’t reach, and gone from high mode to extremely fast forward compared to yourself, and from feeling great, being in touch or ahead of the good guys, you’re suddenly a hundred metres and forty boats behind them within around 90 seconds. This blog is about beginning to understand how they do that, so you can start to do it too!