Tips from the Top from Dave Delenbaugh (US)

Steering Upwind

Steering a boat upwind has always been one of my favorite parts of sailing. One thing that’s important is to sit (or stand) in a good place. Position yourself as high off the water, as far forward, and as far outboard as possible. This will give you the best view of your sails, the waves in front of your boat, and the rest of the racecourse. Be sure you are comfortable, so you minimize distractions and maximize your attention span.

Once you’ve settled into a “batting stance,” you’re ready to start looking around and driving. To steer fast, you must assimilate information from a number of sources. Let’s discuss some of the guides you can use:

Jib telltales: This is where I look most often when steering upwind. Like a lot of helmsmen, I probably depend too much on this single source of information. But telltales are a very good indication of how close I am sailing to the wind. By watching the exact position of the windward telltales, I have a clear idea of whether I am slightly pinching, slightly footing, or sailing a normal upwind angle (see diagram). Remember that easing or trimming the jib will affect the telltales; also, if you’re watching only the lower telltales, you may be misled if they are breaking differently from those at the top part of the sail.

Angle of heel: A lot of good sailors steer by watching and feeling how much the boat heels. They find a heel angle that feels fast, then steer to maintain that angle (and the corresponding amount of weather helm). The easiest way to keep track of heel is by watching the angle that your forestay makes with the horizon. Using heel angle is actually another way to gauge how close you are sailing to the wind; the higher you head, the less you heel, and vice versa.

Instruments: If your boat has instruments, one of your priorities should be to post target speeds for each wind velocity within easy sight of the helmsperson or tactician. These are helpful for knowing whether you should steer the boat faster or slower or lower or higher) at any given time. Be sure to mount your boatspeed readout (and other important instruments) on the mast or in a location where it is easy to read while looking forward. That way you can simultaneously watch the instruments, telltales, waves and angle of heel without looking away.

Look outside the boat: It’s a good idea to make sure someone is always assigned to watch for puffs, lulls, waves and flat spots. Anticipating a change in conditions is key for steering. It lets you know whether you will have to head up for a puff or head off to punch through waves. On small boats, the lookout is usually the skipper; on larger boats it might be the tactician. Communication should include comments like, “There’s a puff coming in 20 seconds” or “Two steep waves in a boatlength.” Make sure these are loud enough for both the helmsperson and sail trimmers to hear. Other boats: Steering technique depends a good deal on how you’re moving relative to other boats. I like to have one crewmember (it could be the lookout) give me continuous readouts on our speed and height compared to our “neighbors.” This helps me know whether I should steer higher or lower. If we’re having a problem, I’ll ask for feedback on what the other boat is doing. Often a slight change in my steering technique will make a difference.

Practice and experience: Time in the boat is often the best way to learn how to steer fast. The first time we sailed Heart of America in Fremantle, for example, Buddy Melges tried to steer the waves as if we were in a Soling. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for a 12-Meter. It took us at least a month of sailing every day to figure out how to get through those seas quickly.

Steering Downwind

Steering downwind seems easy at first. After all, you just head for the mark and trim your sails. But it’s not so simple if you want to go fast. Finding a groove downwind is usually much harder than upwind. You don’t have the positive feel of weather helm, and it’s tough to settle in on a heading where the boat feels like it is effortlessly making its best VMG downwind. Fortunately, there are a few guides you can use.

Course to the mark: The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line, so you can often steer straight for the next mark, and trim your sails to match. This is especially true on a reach. I’ve used a point on shore, a compass heading, a light on shore, the stern light of a boat ahead, and even a star to help me steer a steady course. Just be careful not to get so fixed on one heading that you ignore changes in the wind and other variables.


Loch Broom Sailing Club.

Date of Issue 25th July 2020

LBSC will follow government Guidance, with enhanced advice from RYA and also take note of other Highland Sailing Clubs.  A covid-19 group has been set up to communicate advice on club facilities and activities.


1.       Follow FACTS, Face Coverings, Avoid Crowds, Clean Hands, Two meters social distance, Test if symptomatic.

2.       5 households can meet up to 15 people.

3.       The club has a sanitizer supplied by Visit Ullapool.

4.       Arrive in the gear required for outdoor activity.

5.       The Clubhouse is out of bounds, but preparations and cleaning instructions are being made to open up the toilet.

6.       The wee pier and surrounds are a public space, and tables are used by the public.

7.       Be sensitive to additional measures for people ‘shielding’.

Flying Fifteens

1.       Boats and their tenders are used by single households.

2.       Club boats are allocated, but can be used by others by arrangement and 72 hours spatial separation. 

3.       Co-ordination by What’s App Group (administered by David Maxwell)

Club Dinghies (Pico’s, Feva)

1.       These can be used, with boats numbered and allocated to households but can be used by others by arrangement and 72 hours temporal separation or disinfection.

2.       All users must make good any breakages and ensure boats are cleaned and stored properly after use.

3.       Dinghies can be used without a safety boat subject to

a.       Competence of sailor (Endorsed by committee confirmed by email)

b.      Suitable weather (< F5 gusts forecast).

c.       Restricted range – (within view of sailing club).

4.       Safety boat:

a.       Users to look at and follow videos guidance, includes Covid-19 compliant rescue techniques and operation by single person.

b.      Private safety boats can be used, (committee approval by email). 

c.       Club Rib can be used by approved by persons, single person crewing OK.

d.      Generally club rib to be kept ashore, if in regular use over a week can be kept on mooring for a maximum of 10 days.

5.       Dinghy and safety boat use to be co-ordinated by what’s App group (administered by Jason Leon).  Those sailing without safety boat should also post a note.



Coastal Rowing

1.       Scottish Coastal Rowing Association advises that rowing does not currently comply with government guidance.  Loki is therefore not to be used.


1.       Up to individual boat owners, but see RYA guidance.  Harbour is open for use and up to 3 households can cruise, while maintaining 2 meter spacing aboard!





Relevant Guidance

1.       Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: Scotland's route map update

2.       RYA Scotland Guidance.

3.       Channory

4.       Gairloch

5.       Scottish Coastal Rowing

6.       Scottish Canoe Association

7.       Ullapool Harbour


Safety Boat Guidance


1.       Single crewing of a safety boat.

2.       General  safety boat tips

Latest Committee Meeting Minutes 11th July


Minutes of Meeting 11nd July 2020 at 16:30 outside the clubhouse


1)      Present/Apologies

Donald Buchanan (Chair & Commodore: DB), Paul Copestake (PC), David Dawson (Secretary: DD), Sandy Osborne (SO), John Osborne (JO), Dave Maxwell (Treasurer: DM), Robert White (RW), Adrian Morgan (Vice Commodore: AM), Anthony O’Flaherty (AF), Nat Wilson (NW).


Apologies: Gilly Meighan (GM), Alison Osborne (AO), Bobby Osborne (BO), Gill Wilson (GW), John Mitchell (JM),


2)      Approval of Draft Minutes of Previous Meetings

There being a quorum, the minutes of the committee meeting of 30th May 2020 were approved unanimously.


3)      Matters Arising carried forward

Seasavers no longer want to erect marquee in dinghy park.


4)      LBSC Covid Response

Tourism is opening up as government restrictions ease. The slip, dinghy park is public space and the exterior of the club is also accessible by public. In response PC outlined the formation of a small group to advise members on the correct procedures for.

·        Club house – currently closed, but subject to rules, use of toilets.

·        Yachts and tenders, visiting yachts.

·        Flying Fifteens

·        Dinghies and Safety Boats.

·        Skiffs

·        Additional cleaning kit

PC was asked to lead this activity with DB, JL & GM on the group. Sources will include other sailing clubs.


5)      Clubhouse Roof

Structure: SO reported that a builder will visit 13th July to quote for the structural repairs and also look at the roof covering. DM reported that in the awareness of the condition of the roof had given the club a few years to complete the work.


The Covid response group will advise on use of the clubhouse and the club’s other facilities.


6)      Finance Report

DM outlined the current position having £10.8k in the bank after paying for insurance. The Club has received Rates relief of £0.5k. Very few membership fees are outstanding and over/under payments are also limited.


7)      Subscriptions

The various proposals were discussed and the following agreed

-          No reduction in annual subs but recognition of restricted activity perhaps at Christmas.

-          Club mooring fees confirmed.

-          No change to dinghy park charges.


8)      Junior Sailing Week Update

DM outlined the current Covid restrictions rendering the Junior Week impractical.


9)      AOB

AF asked about use of the Club Feva, informal discussions to be had.

Trolley for ffredom needs wheel/hub attention. NW and JO

SO proposed the purchase of new LBSC embroidered clothing – agreed.


The club FFs need at least one buoyancy bag and AM to coordinate ordering with other FF owners adding to the order as required.

Discussion of moving default racing days. Aim 2 per week possibly Wed & Sat – forum discussion to follow.



There being no other business, the meeting finished at 17:30

News from The Top Table (s)

A socially-distanced committee met outside at the Wooden Tables of Doom on Saturday to discuss "it" and our response. In short a special sub-committee has been set up to keep tabs on what the RYA and Scottish Government say we can and cannot do, which means not much change for the time being.

The shed and clubhouse are out of bounds. Estimates for fixing the roof are being sought of which more anon. With a good start made before lockdown and the discovery of roof issues, we should be able to pick up quickly where we left off, hopefully in time for a grand reopening in late autumn.

Finances are healthy, with around £12,000 in the kitty, a large chunk of which will be needed to refurbish the clubhouse, and all but a handful of members are fully paid up, for which the committee offered its thanks. With little activity at the moment it is heartwarming that members are prepared to support the club in hard times.

Meanwhile the Flying Fifteen fleet has been enjoying some close racing; perhaps the closest for some years, with all eight boats afloat.

Particularly heartening is the sight of three family teams, Sandy and Sean; Paul and Emma; Anthony and Gillie and their results suggest that having a regular crew is not only fun but fast.

When we are once more allowed to recruit crew from outside our bubble, we will be making a concerted effort to attract more members to sign up as crew. As you might have read elsewhere. what's not to like? Cold (sometimes); wet (often); abused by the helmsman (never, surely?); badly rewarded... but, believe me, great fun and you will learn how to sail better as a racing crew than bimbling about sails akimbo.

Please don't be afraid to ask any of the eight helmsman if you can crew; having your arm bitten off is nothing compared to the abuse you will receive afloat.

Junior sailing was on the agenda, and again nothing has changed other than we are determined to get the younger members out on the water somehow and at some time. Robyn, at the moment, can't see a safe way at LBSC although she has been teaching Toppers out East, so it must be possible given proper facilities.

Private dinghies are allowed to go out, but club boats under LBSC rules require a safety boat.

That leaves a Feva and a fleet of Picos languishing,  which was felt to be a crying  shame. However rules (and possibly insurance) is rules.

The insurance aspect is being looked at urgently to see if it is in fact a hard and fast condition in the schedule. 

In short: where there's a will there's a way. Anthony has been asked to come up with a solution so do get in contact if you have any suggestions. Perhaps some kind of minimum experience: 10 starts as helmsman in a Flying Fifteen...? No sailing outside a set area, or over 15 mph? Buying a club boat for the day for £1, and selling it back again (for £200!!) at the end of the session?

Of immediate concern is the dinghy park, which is full and it was felt that Something Must be Done.

However, unless there was evidence of dumping, the meeting rejected a suggestion that members parking their boats on the hard should be charged, on the principle established some years ago that the annual subscription should cover the use of all club assets, with the FF moorings the only ones that attract a fee to cover checks and Crown Estate taxes.

However, members who can remove any boats that are not in regular use are urged to do so. They can always be brought back when needed. 

Rain stopped play at around 5pm, at which all headed Royal-wards where any decisions were probably discussed, reversed amended or quietly forgotten. Plus ca change...