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Rick Shortridge – 1994
"How could such a shit-heap go so fast?" ...asked the inexperienced youngster attending his first nationals at Yeppoon after Dave, Jim and I had just won the 1st invite. We were too stunned at his manners to respond.
The answer of course is as old as Methuselah. Looks are not related to performance. For performance and consistency, everything (including the crew) needs to perform its task reliably and in minimum time. Its no use having a schmick looking arrangement with too much friction, so that, for example, the barber haulers or the vang wont release easily. And when the Southerly Buster hits, very little beats a good mainsail head release.
Our mast is standard Goldspar, our sails standard One Design, but they are beautifully matched. The masthead must yield to depower as necessary for your weight, fullness of sails and the conditions. Obviously softer top masts at fliptops have been popular of late, but as a light crew we use more cunningham than most, and probably open the jib leech a little earlier also. Incidentally we look after our sails. Our Yeppoon jib was 2 seasons, main and kite 3 seasons each, and may yet for nostalgic or financial reasons have a run in Adelaide.
Twenty years ago, Stu Fahey used to abuse me for not watching where I was going. I was usually looking for controls to adjust something. These days most of our controls are within easy reach for Jim or me, leaving more time to race the boat. Another advantage of this system is that when I have a fill-in sheethand, with minimum penalty I can operate most controls. This is handy for those with frequent crew changes!
Blades are another area to lose speed. Generally speaking, modern day nationals fleets are pretty good for blade shape and condition, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
Fitness hasn't had a run yet in this story, but if you haven't
lately then it's overdue. Come Christmas, the fitter you are, the better
you should perform by not collapsing mid race. There was an excellent
item in Australian Sailing on diet for racing sailors. Correctly placed,
wide swinging straps will also help a lot.
Finally, concentration. Few people pick every wind shift, but if you are fitter and less worried by form you're certain to pick more.
See you at Glenelg via Woomera!