Skandia Team GBR

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tacticat Zen

I think the journey to being a great sailor has two stages. The stages can be traversed in parrallel, serial and repeated as much as is necessary, but too be truly great and to be fully enlightened in sail racing, you need to be able to master both.

Sailing is most definately Ying/Yang..

Tillerman has some great accounts of what to do right in Tacticat, what are good tactics...

Zensekai has some great posts about normal life Zen and being at one...

My view is that Tacticat embodies the tactical side of sailing, what to do when two boats meet, what to do when the wind shifts and how to use tactics, fairly to stay ahead or gain control of an opponent. My thoughts on Zen is that it embodies what we should be with our boats, our vessels our yachts, we should be "at one with them".

Let me explain...

To sail any sort of boat well and to win races, event and championships you need to sail your boat fast. To sail a boat fast you need to be at one with the wind, sailing as well as you can to the telltales, you need to be at one with the boat using as little rudder as possible, keeping the boat flat (or with just the right level of heel for the conditions) and well trimmed and lastly and very importantly you need to be at one with the water...the waves, using their power to take you forwards not stunt you and slow you down.

It takes lots of time on the water to get to the point where you don't have to think about any of this, you need to try and attain that "no thinking" style of sailing where you can shut your eyes, here the water against the hull and know when to change course by half a degree and feel your way through the waves and move your body to keep the boat at the optimum trim and heel. Buddha would have been a good sailor (for boat speed!).

But just going fast won't win you races will it.. going fast the wrong way will still put you mid-fleet or worse. To be consistantly at the top of your fleet you need to be able to do the strategy, the tactics, the thinking out of the boat stuff.

So what am I talking about, well its simple, its the key to unlocking your sailing potential, spend lots of time in your boat, learn to feel how fast you are going, literally sail with your eyes shut and hear and feel the boat as it speeds up, slows down, pinches etc... then open your eyes and sail-as-one with the boat and just look around (not at the tell-tales, do that automatically, look at the clouds, the gusts, the other boats THINK about the race....

The secret therefore is a mix of the following:
  • Getting your arse out there and sailing just for the pleasure of sailing so that sailing is as natural as breathing
  • Learning tactics, playing the sailing-chess-game, using Tacticat to try out moves, to work out whats good and bad and to sharpen your knowledge of rules

I hope this makes sense, this is the winning way, you probably just haven't got the right balance yet if your not at the top of the fleet... look at the two halves and work out which is the one that doesn't come natural, then you have a goal and a way to improve your game immensely.

Enjoy, be at one with your boat and look out to sea always...


Zen said...

Well said!
I agree wholeheartedly...are you one of my students? hahahahah
That takes sailing to another level mate, "as natural as breathing" good show!

Ant said...

Glad I have support hear, it's definately the way to go and I emplore all my readers and friends to try sailing blind, get yourself close-hauled, shut your eyes and listen and feel to what happens as you go free off, pinch or hit a "bad wave".

BTW Zen, how can I become your virtual student from across the pond?

Tim Coleman said...

When I crewed for a guy in Enterprises back in 1980 we used to practice sailing blindfold and rudderless (never at the same time though!). It certainly sharpens your boat handling skills. I might try it again this year.

Tillerman said...

Great advice Ant. Ying and yang. Zen and tactics. Bacon and eggs.