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Being in the Groove

Being in the groove means that your boat is just perfectly balanced. You feel like you are in a kind of meditational condition. When you are in the groove you are sailing top speed and height or at least you are quite close to it. Everything seems to be so easy – as long as you stay in the groove. After having found the groove in certain conditions it does not mean that you can easily transform this experience to other conditions. You also need to find it for those conditions. Sometimes you even lose it and have to find it again. This can be quite frustrating. But don’t give up. Every fast sailor had to go through this process.

The following steps will help you to get into the groove:

  1. Set the boat up for the conditions. This is the easiest part as you can ask other sailors in your class you have superior boat speed how they set up their boats. Even if the setup is not at 100% you might still be able to get into the groove. More about how to find the right setup you read here.
  2. Sail the boat flat. This sounds easy but it is not. Sailing a boat dead flat in all conditions (especially when it is gusty) needs heaps of practice. Usually sailing the boat with a little bit of leeward heel feels more comfortable. Often you might think the boat is flat but actually it is not. Ask a friend to watch you from the outside and give you some feedback or even make a short video of you going upwind. Sailing consistently flat is much more difficult than sailing flat momentarily.
  3. Try to be relaxed. When you are tensed, your body will be tensed as well. This does not help to get the boat in a free flow. Slowly inhail and exhail and concentrate on your breath. After a few moments you will feel how the tension falls off your body. This will give you more feel for the boat and you will be able to find the groove again.
  4. Start with sailing more “freely”. This means go for the low groove first. The boat is faster and the angle of the groove is wider. Therefore the groove is easier to find and to stay in to. The high groove is harder as the angle is more narrow. Your steering needs to be more accurate not to fall out quickly.
  5. Steer as smooth as possible. This means that you need to match your tiller movements with the given conditions. It the waves are choppy your steering can be much more aggressive as in flat water or long regular waves.
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