100 Starts – Progress Report
As I mentioned in my last post, my goal was to do 100 starts ASAP. After two days on Quaboag last weekend with no wind practicing starts were pretty much all I did each day. T, Jeff Kent, and Eric Anderson joined in for various parts of the those sessions. This weekend at Lake Something With a Very Long Name in Sidney Maine it was a combination of starts and scratch racing. By yesterday afternoon, I met my goal of doing 100 starts. Here are some things I learned.
- Pointy spikes make a difference. On a track, I am a very fast sprinter. At the Western Challenge and for one day at Quaboag I was not able to get off the line, push my boat as I expected, or beat anyone in the sprint aspect. At the Western Challange, I thought it was just because I am beginner. But on Saturday my traction wasn’t great and I was getting frustrated because I was getting beat so handily right off the line. Saturday night I finally looked at the bottom of my borrowed spikes and compared them to a new set. New spikes are POINTY. Mine spikes were ground little nubs with some even missing from the tread. Fortunately, a nice person switched the old nubs out and Sunday was a whole different ball game in terms of traction and speed. I have been so focused on "boat stuff" I didn’t think my own personal gear made that much difference. Then, for Christmas, Santa got me a set of spikes that fit my foot better and zoom zoom. Lesson learned: Good gear can help.
- I was realized I was standing too upright. When I ran my feet were getting too close to the plank. Since I am dreadfully fearful of repeating the superman scene at a start, I realized I was looking down too much at my feet rather than ahead. Solution, crouch down at the start and lean more into your shroud and tiller with your upper body. Hard to explain, but my feet are now farther aft of my plank and I get a longer stride and don’t come to close to my plank when I run. Lesson learned: Body position matters.
- I also started to feel as though I was not getting a good push on the tiller. I realized my tiller and tiller extension were too long for my body type. Fortunately, a nice person cut a few inches off and, wow, what a difference. I can really push and the boat moves. Lesson learned: Your boat needs to become an extension of you and must be tuned to you.
By yesterday morning, I was consistently really fast off the line and easing to my boat smoothly automatically. By 3:00 pm yesterday everyone else had left for the day. It was getting cold and you could feel the air was getting wet. I was cold, but I still wanted a bit more practice so T and I agreed to go back to van to warm up. Just as we were getting ready to go back out to the ice, six bald eagles circled around and landed in the area where we’d been sailing all day. They were standing in a circle as though they were having a meeting of some sort and commiserating to each other "Finally, those ice boaters have left the lake." Little did they know that I wanted to practice more. We gave them some time to chat and then T and I went out for one more fast start, a very fast upwind leg, and then a gybing practice session downwind. We got off the ice just as the snow was starting. It was lovely and peaceful and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
I said on the van ride home, the next element I need to practice is leeward mark roundings. Stay tuned.
And as secretary my New Year’s request is IF YOU HAVE NOT RENEWED YOUR MEMBERSHIP PLEASE DO SO ASAP! Look to the right and you will see the area to click and renew!
Happy New Year and Happy Ice Time,
Karen Binder DN 5630