This one’s a classic: Staying Out of Trouble at a Mark – If you’re the outside boat of a group approaching the leeward mark and blindly carry on with pace, you’ll sail extra distance in bad air, carry wide around the mark, and then exit in a terrible lane.
Slow Down: Staying Out of Trouble at a Mark
This is one of the rare times when it pays to slow down and let other boats move ahead.
To kill speed, take your spinnaker down early and steer a little extra distance. Say you are slightly advanced on the group.
They barely have room and slow down a lot by steering hard. Staying Out of Trouble, and swerving back and forth. Then swing wide to slow your boat and kill time.
Once you’ve slowed, let the pinwheel unfold. Watch as the boats swinging around the outside become pinned and stuck in bad air.
These boats had room on you, but because they are now pinned wide from the mark, they can no longer make a tight rounding and close you out.
When you can round the mark tightly without fouling those boats (because you don’t have room), sail toward the mark, ideally reaching a little bit before rounding so you have speed.
You will now be on the inside track going upwind, no doubt passing a boat or two. More importantly, you’re setting yourself up on the inside track for a nice beat.
One cautionary note: Staying Out of Trouble at a Mark
When slowing down and waiting for your opportunity to round inside, there might be boats coming up from behind with no room who want to speed into the gap you’re shooting for.
They might not slow down and wait their turn. Be sure to communicate to them that they have no rights. You will save yourself the drama of an ugly foul and big pileup.