Visualisation is important in sport and many aspects of life in fact. It allows you to think of what the key challenges, effects, obstacles and opportunities lie ahead for you. The best visualisations also take a virtual run through the predicted sequence of events or the route of the course.
In fact visualisation probably works mostly because you take yourself through a sequence so that you confirm your knowledge and ability underway, and concentrating on ‘worry n’ fix’ ing those things which are unexpected.
Sailing combines a lot of this – you have preparation, you have the course, youhave the weather, you have the tide and you have changes in that weather and tide which often happen mid way. We kind of have it broken down there. We can visualise the day or race in different ways, each being a predicted sequence with preparation, execution and confirmation/alignment to plan.
You may have like me, a list of things about the boat you should do. A check list on laminated paper or in your waterproof mobile phone is ok, but you can think through it as a sequence of coming on board and going round the boat top to tail. So for example for me that means checking the backstay and maybe measuring from halyard top to stern, bailing the boat out, checking the mast is in column, scrubbing under the bow where I did not get to when the rain came on yesterday, and then working out the jib cunningham, Finally I broke class rules last time by not hoisting the main (and boom as you need to actually) to the black taped mark a few inches down from the crane. I DNF’d as the wind died to nothing anyway. Then I do my usual rigging, which I can and just adjust the sail setting to experienced there and then and any expected conditions.
I then have an idea of the weather sequence. That is important because very often forecasters get the sequence of weather changes correct, but the timing and duration wrong. Tommorrow the wind is expected to go north, thus the RHS is favoured, and it is a shorter way to the anticipated club buoy. Also there should be a slight divergence RHS on the beat. Tide though. It is riddled here! It is due to be ebbing but it may draw in fact the opposite direction in the sound we sail in. SO that needs to be checked and a possible back eddy near the windward mark needs to be counted in or out. So this all in turn means an early turn up at the boat.
The start then is easy to visualise if the weather is right. RHS on STB , and if there is a lot of tide, go in left on Port asap, or even start a little late. I need to work out my burn time and distance to shoot from behind the line, there are likely to be transits. So I need to revisualise the start by actually doing the burn time, Also I need to confirm the tide is running southwards.
The beat is RHS and possibly near the coast as possible if there is a rhs divergence, or using the low lieing islands as tide shadow if there is wind shadow in close. There may be a header on port and a lift out on starboard near in to the coast, but the wind may die off.
There may be a 15′ wind shift around half way through the race, which will suit RHS of the course both upwind and down. It is the shortest side on the fast set buoys. There is no point in these boats diverging from the fleet unless it is a more even geographical course, there is never going to be a lift or wind band big enough to pay. Ok it is take a number from the machine, but that is better than being way down the swanny on corner flyer manic land.
I will be separated from the leading bunch at the roundings, they are very tight and have well tuned boats and perfect tide strategy, so not much to frett about there. More just getting off the start on time. Using other boats to help me time and get near enough at 30 seconds out.
OCS then is worth the go, and perhaps I need a full 4 minute shake down or even ” start ‘with crusing class out of their way a bit just to build a bit of confidence in my ability to be near enough and on time. Also not staying on the unfavoured tack going into bad tide, even if I seem pinned in by stb boats, get over on the other side and duck them. Wind holes are likely to be at headlands and shifts at the creeks.