For my sailing in Japan today I was lucky enough to be invited to sail with “Black Pearl” and the rest of the J24 fleet out of Kansai Yacht Club , KYC. The weather was warm and the wind tricky all day which really added to the fun of the competition.
I found that as we moved around the first 5 leg course that these races are pretty much a competition of minimizing errors. It sems to me one must not focus on being tough or winning. One must focus on not making mistakes and you will win. The J24 boats are very much the same (each owner will disagree as they love their boats very much) as with any one design. Therefore it comes down to crew work and tactics. I used to think that some sailors and sailboat crews sailing in Japan or anywhere else for that matter were almost super beings of some kind. Now as I participate more and more I know it’s a game of , “he makes least mistakes wins”
When we see boats that a rigged as closely as the J24 fleet at KYC and we know the crews are veterans then we can know that every small mistake will cost meters and with matched boats and top crews getting those meters back is very, very hard unless the guys in front make a, yes you guessed it, unless they make a mistake.
Of course luck counts a little as well. One example of luck, or actually bad luck is the wave. Today we had extremely light conditions and were all working hard to squeeze out boat speed when a very heavy motor boat swung into a large curve about 200 meters from our position. When those waves created from his wake hit our boat we were alone in the water as all the other J24 yachts in the race were on an opposite tack. This meant we got hit and they did not. As each wave hit us it robbed us of speed until we finally stopped dead in the water. I would say it took 15 seconds for us to lose speed and then regain it. Now with a boat moving at 5 knots per hour this equates 9.26 kilometers per hour or 2.57 meters per second. Therefore a loss of only 15 seconds will open a gap of 38.58 meters between us and the boats in front. Such a loss is massive and requires incredible skill, precision sailing and yes even a bit of luck to get back.
Now remember today we had 5 legs. This means we had to go around 4 buoys. With each turn we had to raise or douse the spinnaker and raise or douse the Genoa. That’s 8 sail movements. If we just fluff each one by one second we are another 20.56 meters behind. And then heaven forbid if we completely fluff a rounding and jam a line in a winch, as that would mean the race is lost.
If you take what I say to heart and if I am correct, the good news for all of us is that with practice and team work we can eliminate mistakes from our sailing and then we can all take on the super beings and win. I know I for one will be out there training as often as I can. If you would like to join me as either a beginner or experienced sailor give me a call or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My very happy and large thank you to Nishikawa-san, Black Pearl and KYC for a great days sailing in Japan.
See you on the water.