In general there are three different sitting positions when sailing upwind in an optimist.
The first position, with light wind conditions, is inside the boat. You are squatting down with one foot underneath the body and one foot on the other side of the boat. This position is particularly important when the wind is around light-medium. In this situation you constantly need to change between position 1 and 2. Therefore you need to be very mobile. With one foot underneath the body and one foot on the other side of the boat you will be able to sit up, when the wind increases, or squat down, when the wind decreases, without disturbing the balance in the boat. As you probably know: the more you sail your optimist balanced the faster it will go.
If the wind is really light and the chance that you need to switch to position 2 is minimal, you can choose to find yourself a more comfortable position with your bottom on the floor. It is important that you don’t disturb the balance in the boat, so try to find a comfortable position that you can maintain for a long period of time.
The second position is the most common position. You are sitting on the side of the boat. Again it is very important to realize that you need to change to position 1 or 3 if the wind increases or decreases. If the wind is close to position one you should place one foot underneath your body to make it ease to shift your bodyweight in. If the wind speed is close to position 3 you should place one foot underneath the hiking strap to make it ease for yourself when you have to start hiking.
In all positions, but especially in position 2, it is very important to keep your shoulders outside of your hips. This way you will have tension on your core muscles and you will feel all the movements of the boat immediately.
The third and final position is in windy conditions. To be able to sail your boat smoothly in windy conditions you need to hike out. Just as position two it is very important to keep your shoulders outside of your hips. This way you will not only feel the boat with your core muscles, you will also bring maximum weight as far as possible outside of the boat. The further you bring your body weight outside of the boat the more pressure you can handle in the sail and the faster you will go.
When sailing upwind your goal should be to balance the boat. The better the balance in the boat, the faster the boat will be. These sitting positions will help you to feel the boat correctly. If something changes in windspeed or wind direction you will notice immediately. The faster you are with counteracting these changes the better the balance of the boat. Practice to shift from one position to another without disturbing the balance. A full explanation of all the sitting positions including ‘how to shift gear’ can be found at the DinghyCoach optimist technique video
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