Coach Tip of the Week: Drag

No matter if we are trying to win our Wednesday race or the club Etchells Championship, drag is our enemy. Over the years there has been much discussion on how the bottom of the boat should be finished, wet sanded or polished?

Friction between the hull and water is the largest form of drag and time spent perfecting the bottom can increase our speed very quickly and have a huge performance increase.

A famous Cyclist Graham Obree (The Flying Scotsman) in 1993, 1994 broke the world individual pursuit time trial cycling, he approached reducing drag in a very different way. His radical position on the bike was banned after he broke the world record twice. Sailing we are always trying to reduce drag in both air and water.

16/7/1993 World Cycling Hour Record.
Graeme Obree.
Photo: Offside / L’Equipe

Sometimes we may feel we are not getting to our target speed from week to week, first question to ask has the bottom been cleaned lately. Sailors often go sailing with the bottom of the boat not cleaned.

Over the years at many events I have watched sailors arrive with brand new sails and all the best equipment above the water and the bottom of the boat is in poor condition.

If we have a boat like an Etchells or Dragon, make sure the bottom is polished with a good quality polish and all scratches and rough edges are repaired on the foils. With Anti-fouled yachts sitting in the marina it’s a great idea to have a crew member dive on the boat and wipe over the anti-foul to smooth off any growth before we race.

So before our next race make sure we have cleaned and polished the boat , if we have a tactical issue we generally have a speed problem so get the team down and start polishing.