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Byte Technical Tips

by Jennifer Spalding on 31 May 2012
Byte Technical Tips from Jennifer Spalding 2002 Youth Worlds Champion and Canada's 2002 Junior Female Athlete.

1. How do you best sail the Byte through waves: upwind, reaching, downwind, with varying wind strength and direction, with varying wave height?

On the upwinds it's really really important to work the boat through the waves, and to make sure you have enough power to get through them. Try to make sure your bow stays level, you don't want it to bounce or slap against the water. In light air, you might even want to use your mainsheet to help you through them. On the reaches and downwinds you've gotta surf all the time. Practice it as much as possible. Pump and bear off, and then just before you fall off the wave, head up to catch the next one. Always be aware of the next wave you want to catch.

2. What are the key steps to rounding a mark? What tips do you have for a good mark rounding?

When I round marks I like to stand up whenever possible (as long as it's not to windy). I think it's especially important in light shift winds, cause you can look up the course and get a really good idea of where the next puff or shift is. It also helps you get a nice pump out at the mark when you flatten your boat. Make sure you set up early for it so your never stuck on the outside.

3. What should you do if a boat is capsized at the mark? What should you do if you capsize at the mark?

If there's a boat capsized at the mark, just go around it, preferably on the inside of it, but if that's not possible then go around to the outside. Don't worry about them, as long as they're not drowning that is, just keep sailing your race. If you capsize at the mark, get your boat up as quickly as possible and keep going. You just gotta sail extra hard to make up for it.

4. Describe the perfect gibe in high, medium and low winds. Do you have any tips for gybing in high winds?

A nice gybe in light winds has a nice pump at the end of it. You can achieve this by putting your centerboard down before you gybe. In high winds a nice gybe is not capsizing. I found the best way to gybe in heavy air is to get on a surf, and steer as little as possible. When the sail crosses the boat you want to push your tiller away from you.

5. How is the traveler used in the Byte? How does traveler use vary with wind and weather conditions?

The traveler doesn't need to be used that much in the byte. I'd say once you start getting overpowered, you can start letting it off. I tried not to let it off all the way unless I really needed to. The sail isn't that big so you should keep as much power as possible. It's key to play the traveler in heavy winds, letting it off in the puffs, and pulling it back up in the lulls.
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