Friday, August 14, 2009


SHOOT THE FINISH or shoot the moon or shoot the chute.
Wouldn’t we all like to just occasionaly finish just a few inches ahead of the person you were neck and neck with at the finish?

OK – practice the "shoot the finish" almost (more on that later) all of your finishes.

"Shoot the finish" means that at about a half boat length from the mark you go head to wind and "shoot" across the finish line. In a close finish this may be enough to get you ahead, particularly if you are the leeward boat and can’t be seen on the RC boat.

1) You have to finish at one end of the line or the other. At the middle it is too hard to tell just where the line is and you may shoot too early or too late.
2) You should be looking for the downwind end of the finish line anyway.

To set this up, sail to the first finish lay line that you come to. If it is not obvious to you now which end is down wind, then tack to go to the spot where the two lay line meet. This is the best place to judge. Which end is closest now? Go for that one.

Big right shift makes the pin end favored for finish. Big left shift makes the boat end favored.

Everything else being equal, if the line was cocked at the start, then the favored end at the start is not it. Go to the other end.

So now, if you are going to the pin end of the line, you are on starboard. Always nice to have that in your pocket.

If you are heading toward the committee boat then you are on port and I hope you don’t meet any starboard tackers, because that is another page of instructions including which race and who they are etc. Then shoot when you get to the boat.. You will be able to hear them call your finish and that gives you a good check on wether you were a little early or late with your shoot.

Overlapped inside boats have "room at the Zone" so at the pin end if you are on port with overlapped windward boat, you may not be able to shoot if it will deprive them of room to round the mark.

If you are at the boat end on starboard tack , the same applies.

If you shoot the line and loose steerage, remember that you don’t have to cross the line. Just get clear of it without interfering with other boats finishing.

You don’t want to hit the mark while you are in the process of clearing the line, because then you have to do 360 and refinish from the course side of the line.

When not to shoot the line! Yes, when you have a big wind shift and you close hauled course is perpendicular to the line, then just sail straight ahead. That is the fastest and shortest distance.

Lots of time it is pretty obvious which end is favored. Just go to it and "shoot to the finish" as a flourish to end that marvelous episode called "the sailboat race".

If you have a better idea, let me know.

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