Chapter 3: OOTA!
Maybe this rule should be
first... but we already established that
we are going in whatever direction this
thing carries us. Kind of like a
monkey riding a cat!
The primary rule of all
sailing sports is: AVOID
COLLISION! And while both
soft water and hard water sailing rules
state this clearly, for some reason on
soft water there is a "shoot first, ask
questions later" mentality when it comes
to collisions between boats.
Not on the ICE!
I first learned on Radio
Control Victoria sailboats that being in
the right in a collision, will still put
you in second-to-last most times to the
guy that fouled you.
The pathetic image comes
to mind of two toy boats, rigging
entangled while the skippers ashore in
their silly hats drop their RC
transmitters to flail their arms in the
air while exclaiming what rule must
certainly have been violated...
You see they both loose!
This is even more so in
Ice Boating. Health, Safety, and
equipment is all at risk.
AVOID THE COLLISION, ASK QUESTIONS LATER!!
And it is important to follow up with
the offending (or offended) sailor after
the race. Sometimes you will be
surprised at what their version of the
story might be. Maybe they saw you
coming and it wasn't that big of a deal.
Or worse yet.. they didn't see you at
Okay back to OOTA!
"Oh Oh Turn Away"
is a pretty simple rule! Of course
you should always follow all the right of
way rules at all times... and you
should hold your course as much as
possible when you have the rights (this
makes it easier for the burdened sailor to
avoid you!). But eventually, you may
be out of your "comfort zone" with
distances, speeds, or its just clear that
the other guy doesn't see you.
"Oh Oh Turn Away!" by turning
AWAY from the other boat, you are
creating the safest outcome. Even if
there is a collision, your action has
created a softer impact. Now if the
other sailor sees you and reacts, if he
TURNS AWAY also, his actions may lead
to no collision or minimal damage.
If only one of the sailors turns TOWARD,
it might make avoiding the collision
This rule almost seems
too obvious. I mean the most basic
thing you can do is turn away from danger,
no matter if you are driving an iceboat or
But sailing around the
course there are times that we turn
SLIGHTLY TOWARD the competitor in order to
clear them and maintain good speed.
This is okay when done carefully while
under control and from a distance
where you can carefully monitor the
process. If unsure, out of control
or if your actions are going to make the
other sailor second guess your ability to
control your boat - this is NOT advised.
As the Above
Illustrates.... you never know
what's going on in that other boat.
No collision - so I am sure all will be
forgiven between the sailors. Port
tack dude still has the cat to contend
with when he gets home!
And above BOTH
sailors used the OOTA rule and avoided a
collision by a much larger margin.
These two are more likely to be on
friendly terms by the end of the day.
Port Tack guy has all but forgotten his
pissed-off cat at home.
HINT: WAVE TO EACH
WAVE to the other
sailor! If the other sailor fails to
wave you back, this means they probably
aren't paying attention to you and you
need to consider using OOTA!
Soft water guys -
don't confuse the "wave" with the
"wave across" which means "go
ahead and cross me, I will give way even
though I don't have to..."
Ice Boat Racing cannot
afford to rely on vocal communication or
complex hand signals. It can be
noisy, tough to hear, and just how many
hand signals can you make with big mittens
on? (Yes I know of one in particular
that thankfully doesn't project well
through a Mitt). Signals are
simply to acknowledge that you see each
other. Think of it as "Saying Hi!
Yep, I see you!"
Chapter 4: Leeward Mark
Okay lets go back to the
spectator area. If you watch the
different fleets as they round the
marks... or compare the leaders to
those bringing up the rear, one thing you
will notice is how the fastest guys seem
to make the least amount of noise coming
around the leeward mark. There are
far too many reasons for this than can be
explained here, but lets start with the
basic and obvious. Going into
a leeward mark rounding from far to the
right, allows for a smooth transition.
The most hazardous part of turning a boat
is the moment the boat is on a beam reach
and you are trying to transition to a
beat. A wider rounding approach sets
that hazardous point further from the
mark, making it easier to recover if you
loose control. It also makes it
easier to find a safe spot if there is a
lot of competition. DO NOT think
that getting that super close mark
rounding on the inside is gonna somehow
make you faster or beat the next guy.
The one who wins the mark rounding is the
one who is smoothest, conserves the most
speed, and gets his boat back into full
speed upwind gear the soonest.
If you look at one of
the professionally produced videos from
the DN Worlds a few years ago... I
am THAT GUY I used to shave
the leeward mark roundings close. I
slid slightly and my windward runner
clipped the safety cone. I still to
this day am not sure why they TIE THE CONE
TO THE MARK! but it ensures that the
mark will come down as the cone is pulled
away from its spot. This just makes
your embarrassing predicament that much
more ridiculous. For me that moment
is not only burned into my memory but it
can be found on Youtube somewhere.
Leave yourself some
"wiggle room" be aware of
competitors around you. If you can
see them on your inside in your peripheral
vision, there is a chance they are
thinking of going in there, even if they
are overtaking (in which case they are
burdened), you still may come out ahead
letting them get inside you. If they
are going that much faster they wont
affect you that much any way.
As soon as you have
rounded the mark, Be ready to steer up!
As soon as the boats on the outside of you
are sailing upwind and you have completed
rounding the mark, they can now force you
to up. Just like at the start, it
may pay off in slower conditions to lay
off for a bit. But the guy below you
will dictate how far off you can go.
Look above - no
this isn't accurate or to scale... but see
the difference. Notice the point
where the boat is turning through beam
reach is further left and further from the
mark. Its also potentially further
from traffic. The smooth arc will
allow for better speed conservation and a
Exception - if the
conditions are slow or suddenly the wind
is down, sometimes this presents an
opportunity to "cut inside" and get ahead.
This doesn't happen often, but when
someone does it to you, your response will
be "Hey! What just happened??"
Above - avoid coming in
on Starboard tack right at the leeward
mark. So yes, you have Starboard
rights, BUT... First of all think of
yourself how are you going to execute an
efficient turn with control? Unless
its light air and you have short runners
on, probably not gonna happen.
Second, but more
importantly, what situation are you
creating with oncoming traffic?
You are attempting to cut in with traffic
that has to give way to you. But
realize that they are focused on the mark
rounding and the boats next to them, and
wont see you coming until the last
seconds! Also they will be NEAR BEAM
REACH when you are forcing them to give
way. This creates a very dangerous
situation where multiple boats can loose
control and bring the action precariously
close the the Starting line and
Coming in to the leeward
mark on starboard tack can be done safely
Above, you will see our
starboard tack approach... if there
is a race committee or scorers present
(notice they don't have a flag up which
means its NOT time to finish the race
yet!) You can use them as a
reference. DO NOT go dangerously
close to them! They are our precious
volunteers! But they make a great
reference as to where to head toward.
If there are boats ahead of you coming on
Port Tack, (like above) you can use
their tracks as a guide for how you will
make your turn.
Heavier air and/or fast conditions.
Notice the sailors tracks here.
Before initiating the turn, he actually
heads dead-downwind (or almost dead
downwind). Done properly, this can
smoothly decelerate the boat to speeds
reasonable for rounding, while also
keeping the turn nice and wide of the
Above: The "S"
Turn. (or "Ronnie-Jibe") sometimes the
wind lightens up, or you just mis-judge
your line and you have found yourself
understood (too far to the left) and not
able to make a good approach to the mark.
This series of 2 jibes takes a lot of feel
and timing, but if executed properly can
keep you where you want to be.
The "Ronnie-Jibe" is a
variation where during the short jibe onto
starboard, you actually have your head on
the wrong side of the boom.
This allows you to minimize your movement
in the boat that can result in runners
breaking free, and lets you keep a closer
eye on the race committee. This can
also be used as a finishing technique.
Remember that these "S-turn" maneuvers are
a little more advanced and require a keen
eye on traffic, and a bit of practice.
The Illustration above may be exaggerated
slightly as the short jibe is often very
close to dead down wind. This is
something you want to study carefully if
you are watching a Gold Fleet Race.
Perhaps I went in a
little too deep here?? Well showing
you the standard moves to get your boat
into a good and safe rounding position are
Get out on the ice, set
up a few cones, or whatever for marks and