The Comeback of Distance Racing

The Comeback of Distance Racing
by Lin McCarthy, SpinSheet
On the Southern Chesapeake Bay racing circuit, mid-distance and longer races have become a not-so-unusual occurrence. The obvious reason is because racers like this race course format. Beyond that, there are two main reasons that the number and quality of distance races has increased recently.

First, distance racing is a change. The main staple of racing on the Southern Bay is still windward-leeward legs around drop marks. The emphasis is on crew work and speed. He who rounds the marks with the most perfect spinnaker sets and sail choices has a good chance to make it to the post-race podium. Crew work and timing pay big dividends.

More importantly, middle-distance and longer races around designated marks no matter the wind direction test entirely different skills. Yes, it is still necessary to recognize a chance to power reach and react accordingly, but there is a huge emphasis on navigation and strategy. In a distance race you have to know where you are in relation to currents, surface conditions, your competition, and what lies ahead.

The navigator is most likely the crew star as he or she calls for course changes at precisely the right moment. The same crew member can be the dufus if you go the “wrong way” at a critical point. And, sail trimmers move up the “key crew” chart. A good trimmer, who knows for instance how and when to barber haul or utilize a twing, is worth his weight in food and beer. – Full report

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