A bit of a departure....
Is your mind in the right place?
Mindset makes quite a difference.
The free online dictionary defines mindset as "A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations."
How many times are you on the rail, and you are not racing so much as reacting and watching the boats go past. If your conversation while you hike out "Dude, I got so wasted last night!" or closer to "I feel like the skipper is pinching, what are we doing, does anyone else feel like we are slow?"
In our W/L races on Lake Michigan, normally we run 4 legs, preferably about 1.2-1.5 miles for our PHRF group. The entire race at that pace with fairly decent winds should be around 1:00-1:15, maximum.
Given boat speeds upwind and downwind, that should mean about 18 minutes upwind per leg, and 15 downwind. Give or take a bit, that sounds right.
You know that you will, after the start gun goes off:
Hike out hard.
Tack 2 or 3 times.
Chute on deck.
Tack 2 more times.
Pole goes up.
Chute up, jib down.
How far ahead of the boat is your mind? If you are on the rail chit chatting about drinking, who will be at the party, your latest traffic stop, or your support for CSAs, how far into the race are you mentally? What is your mindset?
Yes, it is hard to stay completely focused on every single event taking place on the boat, but are you planning ahead? Where will you be in 3 minutes on the boat? For that matter, where will the boat be? Will we be able to lay the line, or is the helm driving us off into a corner all by our lonesome, and we're going to have to come all the way back? Are you prepared for the next evolution of the boat? Who packed the spin? Are we hatch or bag launch this time around? Do we have a crossing at the mark with boats from a different section that will effect our rounding? (especially since for them, the mark might not exist.) If we had problems with the tack, if so maybe the foredeck can help the jib around. Are we being lifted? Knocked? Are you scanning the water, looking for those telltale signs of wind shifting? IS it to our advantage?
There is so much going on, but in a normal race, you are 'on' for maybe an hour. Have you run through the next jibe in your mind's eye? (Release topping lift from caribiner while pit frees gear from lifelines, dumps jib halyard for douse... visually check spin bag to make sure haylard (ha ha) and sheets are hooked up... inboard end of pole up enough to clear bow pulpit... call "pole up!" to pit... spin trimmer is in place with sheet, s'board jib trimmer has swapped out the lazy jib sheet for the 'soon-to-be' active guy and taken up the slack for the preguy...foredeck has run the halyard free, ready to hoist... pole in place, level for expected spin position based on winds, preguy 20 yards from mark, completed with pole in position as the bow crosses the mark for "Hoist!" call from afterguard... spin goes up, trimmer helps the clew out of the bag with a little pre-trim... mast man spins 180 degrees to grab the jib clew on "full hoist!" call... Pit is already opening the jib halyard as the sailor manning the guy winch adjusts the pole to the helm's course... foredeck strips jib down forestay... spin trimmer settles the chute as the jib drops down... pit is feeding the jib halyard out... jib trimmer from opposite side slides across to ease the main halyard, cunningham, and outhaul for downwind sailing, then drops down to ease off the backstay... fordeck unclips the spin bag from the lifelines on the way back to grab the lazy guy and bring enough forward for an immediate jibe... are we all settled in?
What are you thinking of 200 yards from the mark? 100 yards from the mark?
Mindset means quite a bit. Are you ready to race?