Practice Drills

Editor's Note: Multiple time 505 North American Champion Peter Alarie ran a Thursday and Friday coaching session as part of the 1999 East Coast Championship. Peter was kind enough to write the following describing the drills that were used.

by Peter Alarie

There were a number of drills that the clinic group went through. As with any coaching/tuning session, it is very important that all of the participants understand all of the potential drills before you go out onto the water, so that when you decide to do a certain drill, you just call out the name and everyone is on the same page.
Brief description of the drill we used:

PURSUIT RACE


Drill takes place on a triangle course.
Line the boats up in a given order by sailing in a slow (key to go slow so the line can form) serpentine, gybing back and forth 90 degrees to the wind, to windward of the windward mark. Boats can jump into the linup as the line gybes, and boats can change their position in the lineup at the gybes as well. Boats then sail by the windward mark on starboard tack, aiming at the gybe mark. When even with the windward mark, each boat sets their chute and off you go around the course and back up to the top mark. Order in the line up can be random or specified. Good to start the slow boats first so that they are in the drill, can work on defending, and it gives the better teams a goal to try to pass as many boats as possible. If multiple drills are going to be run, vary the start order, and you can even keep track of where people start and finish for a bit of game.
Goal-establish a close windward mark rounding order that will make for an exciting triangle and last beat. Works on passing lanes, high/low gains, boathandling, speed, tuning for each leg.

CONE DRILL


Simple tacking drill that works on tacks, crew communication, ducking, lee bow tacks, crossing situations, and traffic jamming. Boats start by circling, bow to stern in a circle big enough for all of the boats to fit into the lineup, then one boat leads the group out onto a beam reach. On the whistle, everyone heads up close hauled. YOu can also start with a rabbit start, but everuone has to stay close or it is no good. The drill works by the outside boats tacking back into the middle of the group, effectively forming a cone of tacking boats. The boat that works up to the top of the cone is tacking very fast, such that they are not going outside of the group. If you have a motor boat, then everyone stays inside the boat wake as it motors upwind at the top of the group. The boat can also "send people down" meaning that the boat that works up to the top of the cone has to go back down to the bottom and start again. This works with any number of boats.

ZIG ZAG GYBE


Again, start by circling. One boat leads the group out onto a normal reach angle. Once all of the boats are in a line, everone sets (on the whistle) and the race is on. Key to have everyone close at the start. Reach to the motorboat, gybe, and off you go again to the new motorboat location (which you do not know yet until everyone is around and the boat takes off and is the new mark) The motor boat can mess with the leaders a bit by changing the reach angle high or low, and also keeps it interesting. This drill works on all of the obvious, and if the person in the motorboat mixes it up a bit, it also works on reaching at different angles, defending high and low, transition crew work (motorboat can move as the leg develops!).