Pip Hare this morning: "I am in crossover hell right now. It's an agonising place to be. Staring at graphs on the computer, hoping that the wind will stablise or an answer will leap out at me from nowhere. I think I have analysis paralysis and it's not going away."
For those who have no idea what crossover hell might be I will explain. I carry a selection of seven headsails on Medallia, each one of them has a specific range underwhich it provides best possible performance. That is a combination of wind angle and wind speed. The crossover is the point at which one sail becomes more efficient than another. It is normally reached either through a change in wind angle or wind speed. Right now, and for the last four hours I have been relentlessly sailing first on one side then the other of my cross over between my J2 and the upwind Code Zero.
I was here a couple of nights ago and quick to make the decision to go big and change up to he zero. A few hours later I had lost ground to windward, was struggling to make an acceptable course with the bigger sail and had to change back. Two changes end to end cost me an hour of time and a fair few miles on the race track. It's not a decision to rush into that's for sure.
So now I am more cautious, I desperately want to use the bigger sail but it seems every time I make the decision, go on deck and loosen off the ties where the bag is stacked, the wind angle changes and I know it would be the wrong decision. So I leave it, trim the jib a little and descend below to stare at the wind graphs for another 15 minutes. Sometimes it is clear. The jib is the right one, but then at others Medallia will fall badly off a wave, grind to what feels like a halt and inside me it is like nails down a blackboard I am mortified for not getting the big sail up... so I go back on deck and the same thing happens again. But there is always a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I am missing out on an opportunity, no action is not fast. I am acutely aware of the penalty in time, miles and energy I will pay if I make a sail change and then have to change back. But there is always a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I am missing out on an opportunity, no action is not fast.
what it all bolls down to is the bigger picture. What is it I want to achieve over the next few days, is it sailing as fast as I can, in which case I will need to steer up to accept a lower course - losing ground to he East. Or do I want to sail the course the routing recommends, in which case I need to sacrifice some speed. My overall decision is to go for course. Both La Mie Caline and Group Setin have gone for the speed option, and being more modern boats I would not be able to keep up with them. So now to decide to 'crack off' and follow them I would just be running on my short little legs and still loosing ground but also loosing height. I have decided to sail my course in my boat because I need to remember that we are all different, we have different design attributes, are powerful at different times and let's face it so far Medallia and I have been punching above our weight somewhat and I need to stay grounded and remember the boat I am actually sailing has it's limits no matter how much I push and cajole it. That doesn't that nails down a blackboard feeling I get when we feel underpowered. Every part of me wants to put up a big sail and push hard but I think this is the time to sail smart. This decision to stay high weighs heavily on me, is it a decision that will loose me contact with my little group? I hate to think we will loose touch now, even though I know by rights we should.
In the next few hours if the forecast is right then the moment will arrive when I can have it all. The wind will drop, back slightly and my upwind zero will make it's heroic appearance. Till then I need to cool my heels, focus all this nervous energy on something positive. I am overdue some deck checks so I've given myself a joblist to get through before I look at the numbers again. Well I will sneak a glance now and again, then find myself staring at them as if the answer to life is behind those mutlicoloured displays.