If we all do this someone will for sure beat Kion! -Pete


Sail Fast in 2012   Courtesy Andy Burdick and Melges USA.  

The following Speed Notes are general and can apply to any boat / sailor.


The crew responsibility list is something you can share with your crew…(but if you do they may never sail with you again, -Grant) … as the C boat crew has a long list of responsibilities.  


“A-14” is the boat Andy was coaching.

Conditions: 8-15 mph.

  1. Sidestay Number: 2.5
  2. Jackstay Number: 5.5 (this puts the jackstays at 50" approximately). With two people this is really good. When you have 3 - I would tighten so you are at 42". Use two fingers to press in for tension.
  3. Mainsheet block position is marked for you.
  4. Mast rake is marked for you. We were about 2" forward of the tape mark on the line. Put it there and measure your rake to 31'10.5".

A-14 Speed Notes

  1. Angle of heel is the #1 thing in any boat. You do such a great job of sailing the C at the proper angle of heel upwind. You have a great touch and natural feel. However, you forget this after you tack. You are far to quick to trim the main and over-heel the boat - forcing you to head up and dramatically slow the boat down. When there is wind it puts a lot of strain on the crew. Here are the steps you should follow / practice. Based on the winds we had at the Cedar Lake, Icebreaker. (8-15).

As you enter the tack ease slightly, not a lot. Maybe an arms length maximum. Get on the rail and hike, at the very least have your butt over the edge and in your racing position. Main is still out at this time. Keep the main eased until your crew is hiked and able to pull on the controls.  Crew pulls on the Vang first, Cunningham second, (you still have the main eased). As the boat accelerates with these controls on, now trim as the crew pulls the final amount of vang on for maximum upwind speed.  This allows you to keep the bow down and going fast, not over heeled and pinched! What YOU need to commit to is getting across and hiking. Then be patient, help the crew by not over heeling. Once ready, then trim slowly. Your largest gains will be made if you follow these simple steps. It is important!

  1. Be athletic - in the wind condition we had you have to sail the boat hard and athletically. You are in the shape and condition to do this however you have to commit to this too. This does not mean you have to hike straight out but you need to at the very least pull on the straps and lean back slightly. Bend your knees, get comfortable, but at the very least get over the side - especially after the tacks. You need to commit to this!
  2. Do a better job with transitions! Where are the transitions? At the top and bottom marks. You need to improve in these areas.

Top Mark: As you approach the top mark make sure you go through your mental check list. There is a lot to think about here!

    1. Are we lifted or headed? Meaning - should we jibe or extend around the offset.
    2. Where is the wind after the offset? Extend or Jibe?
    3. Be sure my mainsheet is straight and ready to run smoothly.
    4. Backstay on - crew!
    5. If you are going to extend sail higher.
    6. If you are going to jibe set up low with the boat in front of you so you can perform the jibe easily.
    7. Make the boat accelerate to the offset - maximum speed sailing. Don't let your mainsail luff!!!!! Max. Speed.
    8. Board up half way so the boat planes - lines are continuous so crew can do from the high side while hiking.
    9. Speed is the key here but it is achieved through technique.

Practice this - it is critical.             Bottom Gates:

  1. Set up in advance. Get room or make sure you can follow single file. Never get overlapped to leeward. Never.
  2. Looking upwind, which side has more wind?
  3. Which side has less boat / sail traffic after you round?
  4. Which leeward gate is closer? More Upwind?
  5. Which gate has less downwind traffic?
  6. Set up in advance for the gates if you can.
  7. Crew to organize leech cord, outhaul, boards, be ready to help with main.
  8. You hike while main comes in and then focus for those 30 seconds after the leeward gate so you have maximum speed in bad air, chop and so on. Extreme focus here.
  9. Speed is key here, be ready for any maneuver in order to go maximum speed. Settle in so the boat and crew performs. Sail FAST.

Practice this - it is critical to your future success.

  1. Downwind Sailing - You sail the boat very well downwind and you keep the boat in the breeze - key. However, be sure to watch the tell tales a bit more for angle reference and also for main trim. When you can, trim the main so the boat accelerates when the wind hits the side of you or wants to turn you down. Always have the mainsail in your hand and ready! Very important!
  2. Keep your weight forward downwind - don't sneak back in the boat. Stay forward to the mainsheet cleat. This is important for weight placement in the boat. When you can, lean out in the puffs so the boat heels. FAST.

Crew Speed Notes There is a lot of responsibility when it comes to the crew aspect. While the items noted above are items you can work on, following are the crew notes I can work on and really any C crew could focus on with the conditions we had at this regatta. Top 10 Crew List Upwind Items:

  1. Crew is responsible for angle of heel which is so important in the sport of sailing. Be ready to perform either with your weight / hiking, sliding in the boat, getting to the low side or by using the sail controls. Keep the boat on the constant angle of heel.
  2. Sail Controls - be aggressive in this area when the wind is up. Vang is first, Cunningham is second with Traveler 3rd. Working the vang and Cunningham after a tack when windy is especially critical as the boat will not get up to maximum speed until you have these controls on.
  3. Tacks - good roll tacks in the light air with the board going down midway through the tack (when you are head to wind - no sooner). When windy you have to drop the boat a bit earlier and then race across to hike hard and get the sail controls on.
  4. Hiking - to be a good crew in any boat you have to be able to hike hard, straight out and for long periods of time. For that extra speed hiking is the determining factor. Adjust your straps, get comfortable and be able to hike for periods of time and give that extra effort in the shots.
  5. Be Alert - the crew position in the C scow has a lot of "To-Do's". Angle of heel, Compass, Where is the Wind, Where are the marks, Boats, Traffic. Not only should you watch these constantly through the race but you should also paint the picture to the skipper so they don't have to look. Communication could go like this....." You are sailing higher than the boats on your hip but the boats to leeward are sailing faster and lower angles."   Or....." you are in a good lane of clear air but you have a starboard tack boat coming in about 30 seconds. Should we duck or tack? Right now we are lifted (then you should probably duck.....)"

Downwind Items:

  1. Smooth jibes - help pull the boom across by pulling the new backstay on - this aids in getting the boom across and then your backstay is in the cleat and firmly on the moment the boom reaches the centerline. Use your weight when you can to roll jibe the boat. Less board downwind is good. Experiment with this - I see so many boats with their boards down far when sailing downwind.
  2. Angle of heel - again - help with angle of heel. If you are on the low side position your body so that you can see the wind behind you and all around you but make sure your weight is such that the end of the boom just kisses the water. Hold the boom out so the mainsheet is firm. When windy......lean out by pulling on the low side board rope. Extend your body out and use your hiking straps. This rocks the boat up and it is fast.
  3. Help with wind, angles and telltales. Look back, watch for wind, look for boats that are going fast or have good downwind angles (they are sailing toward the mark.....). Help with watching the telltales too and communicate to the skipper on what you see. Remember, you are a team.
  4. Transition Top Mark - When you reach the windward mark it is a time not to relax but to go faster. You get the reach to the offset so do it at maximum speed. First, pop the leeward board up once you clear the windward mark - not all the way, ? way so the boat frees up and you go faster. Then ease the outhaul and get the leech cord on once you clear the offset. Help get the boom out and get into position for your downwind run. High side? Low side? Communicate this before the offset so that you are both in sync and so you are smooth. You want speed here.
  5. Transition Leeward Mark: Which mark is favored as you look at them? As you look upwind, which side of the course has more wind? Which side has less traffic when you round the mark? Which mark is closer to you as you look at them. The crew should help determine all of this hundreds of yards away from the bottom marks. Then, as you approach prepare the boards, get the outhaul back on, leech cord off and be ready to help with the mainsheet if need be. Do all of this in advance so you have a good rounding. Here again, an opportunity to make big gains if you do it smooth. Once you round the mark fully concentrate for 30 seconds - extreme focus - on angle of heel, maximum boat speed - put in a big effort at this time so you go fast through the traffic, waves and so on. That bottom mark transition is a major part of the race.

One of the biggest things in sailing is putting together "The Campaign". This is something the crew needs to help organize. What regattas will you go to. How will you do them? What days will you practice? What time will you be at the boat before a club race so you can put some practice time in before the race - have an agenda of things you want to practice that day. Team shirts and hats - be a team, build a campaign and have fun in doing it. Sailing is the ultimate team sport! So, participate, get into it and be ready to HIKE.