Boat & Venue Preparation
by Oli Tweddell (Australian Finn sailor and ex-Optimist sailor)
We have spoken about keeping your body in shape during a competition through proper nutrition and hydration techniques, this week I am going to talk about preparing your boat and your brain for an upcoming competition.
You should always carry out boat maintenance checks before and after every sail you do, whether it was 3 knots or 30.
This way you keep on top of any problems that may occur and spot and solve them before they break on you during a race. A really quick and easy way of doing this is going through a short checklist;
Ropes.............Fittings...............Tiller extension joint
All you have to do is have a quick look at these things on your boat and see if they look worn, corroded or worn away and then replace them.
I always put on brand new ropes and fittings(where possible) 2-3weeks before a major event, this way I know the new stuff isn’t going to break on me during the competition, and it gives you enough time to see if there are any issues with the new fittings or if the rope has stretched.
Once you feel confident that your boat is going to be reliable you can add the final “go faster” touches, by cleaning the hull before you go racing.
Now your boat is all sorted you need to familiarize yourself to the venue in which you are going to be sailing.
Here is a good logistical checklist to help make sure you have a strong understanding of the sailing venue you will be racing in;
* Tide Chart
* Depth Chart
* Topographic Map ( Google maps)
* Local Wind Data Stations
By using these sources it will help you understand your venue a lot better. eg. If you are racing at Sorrento you would find the local tide charts and know that it is a very tidal venue, where there water isn’t that deep but varies across the race course, it also has a lot a varying land height which will influence the race course and you can observe the club’s local wind recordings to find out the general wind trends.
This would vary completely if you were sailing in Weymouth (Venue for the 2012 Games) where it is tidal, but the water is extremely deep and the general wind direction means the wind comes straight from the ocean.
What you must always remember though, is that you only base your decisions on the information that you have collected that day, not because a “local” told you it always goes left.
So before your next major event remember to check your boat over, and check out your sailing venue!
“ It’s always better to be safe, than sorry!!”