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Big Fleet Regattas - Chicken and Egg

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salmon80 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote salmon80 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Big Fleet Regattas - Chicken and Egg
    Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 5:47am
65 boats at the Merlin Nationals, really enjoying reading the daily reports on what looks like a fantastic regatta with top sailors

Always makes me want to do more of these sorts of events but if i did that regatta I'd be sure I'd be about 40th Overall and wouldn't enjoy being that far down the pan with dirty air and buried every start.

The only nationals I've actually enjoyed (sailing wise, social is always great) are ones where I'm in contention, which i would consider being in the top 10-20% of the fleet. I've managed that twice with 3rd and 4th places in fleets of 20 and 33 but that's not the same level at merlins

Has anyone else felt like this and wondered what to do, if you dont do more nationals and get flogged you'll never learn how to compete in big fleets so that you will enjoy it, but if you wont enjoy it whats the point. Chicken and Egg ....

I'd love to know if anyone's (other than juniors) battled past the buried starts and dirty air to begin to compete at the front end

[For background I've won around 15 open meetings with 15 or more boats in 5 different classes but repeatedly find myself 10-15 places below people i can beat regularly in smaller fleets. Best finish at nationals was a race win but typically i'm much further down]
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Post Options Post Options   Quote davidyacht Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 7:41am
Maybe whether you enjoy yourself or not is down to a state of mind?  Tim’s report suggest that it is a good craik both on and off the water in a West Country seaside resort ... they are also blessed with good weather and wind ... what is there not to like?

As someone who’s struggles to get into the top quartile at championships despite repeated attempts (30+), I satisfy myself that I have never shied away from the classes that offer the best depth of competition, so even on a bad day I can point to a “star” who has had a worst day!  This also means that should I get into the top quartile I enjoy the moment. 

I am now much more selective of the events that I attend, most recently the Solo Nation’s Cups in Riva Del Garda and Carnac.  Both promised good winds, organisation, attractive venue and a laid back atmosphere off the water.  Increasing the last two points can make up for a week languishing in the lower orders.


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Post Options Post Options   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 7:51am
I think it's good to find racing which is on your level, where you feel you're rewarded with a top result when you sail well but with still the chance of getting beat if you don't. Obviously that level is going to be in different places for different people and I wouldn't feel bad about opting out of events where you're going to get a drubbing repetitively. 

Having said that, I think we all need to put ourselves out of the comfort zone just a reality check. 

I also think when sailing in better fleets it's helpful to pick other targets... first in silver fleet, best placed older boat, top boat from your club etc. I think these are the battles (along with the social) that really keep the majority of sailors coming back. 
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Noah View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 10:16am
I'm usually to be found at the bottom of the middle third in any big fleet event. Doesn't stop me enjoying it, and on the rare occasions I have a fit of altitude sickness it feels fantastic! I remember those races for ever.  'Tis harder to find a clean lane if you're not at the front, but they are there. Getting a decent start is half the battle, otherwise you're on the back foot from the get-go.
And that's quite enough cliches for one post.

Edit: it's definitely a step up from club fleets to the open / national circuit, but that's the only way to improve, I think.


Edited by Noah - 22 Aug 19 at 10:18am
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iGRF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote iGRF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 11:15am
Reading between the lines it looks like you need to brush up your starting technique, if you can beat them in small fleets (which are often more difficult) then beating them in a big fleet should be easier for a person confident on the start line.

I always found the bigger the start the better it was to beat folk I might know and could probably be irritating in a smaller start environment.

Then again I've come to accept technique in getting ahead at the get go can be a bit trickier in dinghys, but as long as you follow all the well documented procedures for getting your nose ahead at the gun, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Having a bloody good crew also helps, if the pin end is no go, making sure you and the crew have transits sorted so you can go for mid line sag, always pull the trigger at 2 secs to go, better risk being over than being buried (less chance being spotted mid line). The Start is 60% of the chance in a big fleet, much much more important than in small fleet races. Personally I always try for the pin then right if all things are equal and unless there's a half decent port bias. It's also easier in a fast boat in a handicap fleet, but in large number class racing the start is everything and start line confidence and 'neck' all the more important.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote KazRob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 12:21pm
There's nothing wrong with being 40th in a fleet. If it was only people who could win that went to events, every fleet would only have 10-15 boats. There's also the question of fleet 'quality'. There's no doubt getting a top ten (or top 10%) in some fleets is an order of magnitude easier than getting a similar result in others. I'd imagine the Merlins will be one of those fleets with more depth of talent than some other classes (especially at the big events).
Unfortunately it's good to get properly beaten sometimes as it's the only way to ever improve. 
Regarding dealing with big fleets (and I'm not so good at them either) I suspect there's no way around that apart from getting lots of practice in big fleets - and that may mean getting properly beaten for a while. Starts count for a lot, but so does positioning against the fleet and having the stamina to keep concentrating and working hard for what are typically much, much longer races than fleets typically get at open events
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2547 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote 2547 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 3:02pm
Want to get better in big fleets then do more big fleet events ...simple.

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davidyacht View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote davidyacht Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 4:07pm
I think that the fundamental issue is about having the nerve to mix it on the front row, getting your nose out and pulling the trigger early enough; if I am at all reticent I get buried.  At a recent event I got in a nice position nose out in the midline sag, but someone better than me was a boat length ahead of me and the rest of the fleet, fortunately he sailed free off the line; when I congratulated him on his holding his nerve he said “well I’m not here for the general classification” which I think sums it up ...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote RS400atC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 5:23pm
Originally posted by salmon80

65 boats at the Merlin Nationals.....I'd be sure I'd be about 40th Overall......]


Easy to talk the talk on a forum, but good sailors have to work for 40th.
And it's 'We' in a Merlin, not 'I'.
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Daniel Holman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Daniel Holman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 19 at 7:33pm
If you want to get good at racing in big or small fleets its deffo important to race in big fleets and get cuffed by the best sailors that you can, else its just an ego trip.
Do as much racing as you can in high quality fleets and make a point of learning as much as you can. Invest in coaching if you are serious about improving yourself.
Like many I was lucky to come through the RYA youth scheme at a golden time so it was all there, its a bit harder for adults to make a jump in quality, but it can easily be done with effort expended in the right directions!.
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