A well planned training calendar incorporates definitive training seasons as well as a competition season, and as you lead up to your competition season, the focus of your practice should shift from developing skills to performance practice. Performance practice focuses on high stakes scenarios on the race course, bridging the gap between executing excellent skills and using them in real racing situations. For example, during your training seasons, you might work on tacking on an open course, where in performance practice you'll want to focus on tacking in a constrained distance to simulate tack to avoid other boats.
Game of Inches
Racing at the highest levels is a game of inches; an inch now can be the difference between crossing or ducking later. Gains are compound around the race course, as are losses. As you get closer to your competition season, isolating the instances where small gains count for more is mission critical.
Top 10 Scenarios for Compound Gains
- Gybe, Gybe Douse - Headed into the leeward gate, confidence that you can rip a gybe, gybe, douse will allow you to play into a corner just shy of layline to grab the inside overlap headed into the mark.
- Double tacking on the line - Tucking up a few inches closer to the windward opponent is often the difference between owning the pack on your hip, and getting rolled. The snappier your down-speed handling, the farther you'll be able to push it.
- Starting line accelerations - Everyone knows that a good start makes the whole race easier, and often times the difference between good and bad starts is only a few inches.
- Simultaneous tack onto lay line - When the boat on your port hip tacks onto lay line, every few seconds you continue straight is another lost boat length.
- Full speed double tack - Heading into the top mark, you're barely under lay line. Can you pull two clean tacks under pressure to round ahead of the chasing pack?
- Duck and tack to pin - This scenario plays out in many places on the course, but one of the most common is on the starboard lay line. The tighter you can tack to the boat you just ducked, the more opportunities you'll have at the mark.
- Tack to cross - Off the line, the left phase comes in and you need to tack and cross. Exactly how much of a lead do you need to tack clear of the boat on your hip?
- Holding your lane off the line - Every inch you can hold onto in a compromised lane off of the lane will be a much cleaner escape route when your tacking lane opens up.
- High set - Press high for a few seconds after the windward mark rounding to pressure the boats in front and defend against the attack behind.
- Wide and wide and tight gybeset - Same as high set, but even bigger potential for losses if you get rolled.