(c) 2009 Butterfly Fleet 20

Following is a very brief Q&A with Scott Young. More was planned but before we could get more questions to him, his son stuck his hand in a blender and now Scott is busy focusing on the Laser NAs this week. Good luck Scott. We look forward to reading about the NAs on your blog www.scottyoungsailing.blogspot.com.

Can you stand on the roof of the clubhouse for an hour before the first warning signal and get a better feel for optimum path to weather better than being on the water itself? I don’t think so. I think you need to be on your boat and sailing at full speed upwind. If you are moving towards the direction of where the wind is coming from, you will converge on the wind shifts faster. I don’t recommend timing the shifts but as you are sailing before the start you can begin to get mental images of what a good lift looks like by looking at how high you are pointing on each tack relative to landmarks on shore (or you can record compass headings of what a good or bad tack looks like). I think you can get a general visual of whether the wind is oscillating or coming in from one side by watching from the clubhouse but I think you need to be on the water to get the best feel for the wind patterns.

How do you handle a radical windshift toward either end of the line if it occurs 15 seconds before the start?
If the shift is a big header and it is now hard or impossible to lay the starting line on starboard tack, I immediately start looking for options on how I can get on the to the favored port tack as soon as possible. The faster you can get in phase with the wind shifts, the better. Conversely, if a big lift comes in, I try and figure out how to stay on starboard tack off of the line for as long as possible in order to wait for the wind to shift back to the left. That means keeping my lane clear of bad air through really concentrating and sailing in bad air if possible. The worst thing you can do is tack off of the lift and sail a header just to look for clear air. At that point, you are really out of phase.

Why foot for the header if it’s just a calculated guess that it's a header?
If I see a wall of wind moving down the lake and if it looks like the line of wind is moving perpendicular to the direction that I am sailing, then, I am pretty confident it will be a header. Also…if I think I am on a lift, and the wind has shown a pattern of oscillation, the odds are again that the next shift will be a header. I also look for visual clues. Are the boats upwind of me sailing a lower course than I am on the same tack? All of these clues can give you pretty good confidence that you are sailing towards a header.

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