2001 Winning the AUS Nationals

How we won the Australian Tasar Championships

Tasar Champion. Craig and his crew Kevin Kellow won the Australian 2000 National Tasar Championships, held at Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney in January, 2000. Tony Keevers posted the following report, which first appeared in the Australian Tasar newsletter, to the TasarSailors discussion group

"How We Won" by Craig McPhee 2666

Our preparation for this regatta was less than ideal, we had only sailed a handful of races in the 12 months leading up to it. This to some extent dictated how we approached the racing and tactics. The boat required very little - just a check of all fittings, rivets, etc and a tidy up of the boards.

Good crew work is essential especially under pressure in tight situations. Both skipper and crew need to work together knowing who does what and when automatically. After 4 years ours was good allowing us both to concentrate more on what else was going on. Despite some effort prior to the series our crew weight was 141kg (rising to 145kg at series end!!). We fiddled with the diamond tension a little prior to the series but couldn't pick what seemed better, it ended up around the pole hook.

Rake is right in the middle of tolerance. A short luffwire allows us to go from min-middle-max with the addition of two shackles if required. Having said that, it has not been changed for two years.

One thing we noted that seems different from what the majority do is the board position. Our board is always at least 20cm up even in light airs. Once both on deck, it is almost up to deck level and when overpowered even higher. Have not played with raking the board so it's straight up and down and in the middle of the box, a texta mark makes that easy. We lose height but seem to gain enough speed to counter this with the benefits of a boat that is easier to steer and keep flat.

Battens are unshaped and standard except for a rough stiff one in the centre only discovered halfway through the series which we had to leave. It may have been the result of early experimenting with what I feel is a quite full sail when compared to others. They are given just enough tension to remove wrinkles. As a result of the fullness the foot is pulled out tight all the time and more cunningham used to pull some of this shape forward. It certainly seemed to reduce the staggers I felt we suffered since using this sail.

Our upwind speed was fairly average but okay if allowed the crack off slightly and go for speed. It seemed much more important this regatta to look for pressure and shifts than for outright speed or height so this didn't penalise us much. However, it meant we had to be careful who we were next to on the start line. Our starts were conservative to say the least through lack of practice, rarely did we push right at the favoured end. Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 races this forced us to play catch up by not being in the first few at the first mark. However, we did work particularly hard to maintain clear air on the first leg and to hit the first shifts which often got us back in touch. Our aim, I guess was simply to get off the line with no agro, trouble-free with clear air and stay as flat as possible. Being back a bit from the hot end also prevented us being locked in and allowed the option to tack early.

Before each start we would do a couple of short beats to set the boat up so that it feels right. Also, to establish wind readings so immediately after the start we would know what was the best tack to be on. A run along the line each way with the main cleated soon shows which end the wind favours. On one of the really biased starts where the port tack nearly layed the first mark we took a punt and waited until after the gun luffing on port below the line. When a gap appeared we dived through and layed the first mark rounding second. Not recommended!! Generally, we avoided hitting corners or laylines except on a couple of occasions. Usually this is the way to go but in this regatta we probably handicapped ourselves by doing so. You could see the shifts out on the edges and more often than not we lost boats on both sides prepared to take the chance. As far as rig tension goes, we use just enough to stop the leeward stay wobbling up wind and the jib luff swaying downwind.

Jib sliders upwind are always fully in regardless of the wind strength as I prefer to ease the jib instead. They are only moved out for the reaches to control twist. At the first mark it was important in the close fleet to get moving first then adjust later. Rig, vang, cunningham and jib cars, all are eased but the foot is left. The board is raised to 15cm above the deck or as high as stability allows and almost out on the runs.

Careful steering was required downwind to use what waves there were and to head for puffs then ride low when in them. Several times this allowed us to sail over other boats but its never wise to sail too much of a curve to the next mark. Luffing duels need to be avoided in close fleets/short courses but under limited circumstances can be useful. We were forced to do this a few times due to the closeness of the boats. Dead square our speed was good with the boat often heeled to windward to neutralise the steering. The spanner was left in the central position to project the maximum area and stays both forward. This was one of the few times I've ever had to gybe around the runs looking for pressure but there were some big gains to be made by doing so. The vang is constantly adjusted off the wind to just maintain a very slight twist and leech ribbons watched for sheeting angles - two of the three flowing on the reaches is what I aim for. There seem many styles used on sheeting, vanging. Ours is fairly simple and probably the most commonly used - until overpowered no vang is used, instead mainsheet tension controls twist, mast bend and the traveller is played. When getting overpowered the sheet is eased enough to allow the traveller to be played about the central position with vang then used to control twist and power.

It was gratifying for the one design concept to note that despite all the variations in boat setups, techniques, ago of sails, crew weight, etc that there really was very little between boats on the water.

A more agressive approach in some areas (starting/upwind tactics) may have improved some early results for us but due to a lack of fleet practice we started the regatta with the aim to play safe and sail conservatively. Avoiding mistakes was a priority and this more than anything else decided the final results.

Good Sailing

Craig McPhee, Kevin Kellow

Tasar 2666 "More Small Things"