Sunday, April 12, 2009


Winners Chalk Talk: Spring 09, Week #5 Mike Matan - Posted on Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Interesting conditions on Sunday – my best guess was 8-18 knots from the west which meant big shifts usually accompanied by significant increase in wind strength. I don’t think anyone could really predict what would happen next. My own focus for the day was on starting conservatively (in the middle of the line/fleet where there was space), not sailing to the edges of the course and then really focusing on sailing as fast as possible in whatever conditions I found myself in.

I spent two weekends in March at a ‘sailfit’ clinic down in Clearwater beach run by Kurt and Meka Taulbee and would really recommend the clinic to everyone. I leant a lot and had a fun time – it’s really enjoyable spending time on the water training in warm weather and makes a nice change from racing. On Sunday I tried to focus on three things I learnt at the clinic:

1/ Don’t oversteer. There were no real big waves on Sunday – at sailfit, Kurt Taulbee spotted me sailing upwind steering over every wave. I thought I was working the boat hard over every wave – Kurt pointed out that the waves were too small – so on Sunday I focused on what he told me – try not to steer AT ALL (except for bow down see below!) and just keep the power on to blast thru the smaller waves. Steering, as we all know, just slows the boat down (obviously you need to steer as the wind shifts but then back to no steering)

2/ Bow down. It’s easy to keep the boat flat in the windy spots, just point into the wind until the boat becomes flat. Kurt kept shouting at all of us “BOW DOWN”. I spent Sunday hiking VERY hard and as soon as the boat approached coming flat pulled the tiller towards me a LITTLE bit to come off the wind a few degrees and get the bow down and then hiked HARDER (the boat will be heeled to leeward a bit but this is fine) hence always keeping maximum power on the boat. You may think, as I did, that you already do this but I guarantee you’ll find at the clinic you don’t do it anywhere near enough.

3/ Keep the outhaul tighter. As a heavier sailor I’ve tended to sail with a pretty full mainsail even in wind. Kurt had me sailing with a much flatter mainsail than previously but as a result I had to ensure I eased the outhaul quickly when the wind dropped. On Sunday, as my sail was flat, I had hardly any Cunningham on even in the windy bits – lighter people would pull some on.

I think all these points helped me on Sunday. The other thing I noticed was that all the people who attended the clinic (myself, John Coffey and Mark Laser) were really buzzing – all of us enjoying trying out new improved techniques. I’d really recommend sailfit in Florida or the laser training center in Cabarete, Domican Republic as a fun way to improve, cheers! Mike