We need to employ the best tactical foresight out on the racecourse for staying out of trouble. We must be observant otherwise we can still often get ourselves into a jam. To that end, I have outlined below some tips to enable you to dig your way out.
Ducking a Competitor:
The main reason that you have to duck is to minimise a loss and a good duck generates extra speed when you bear off.
As a bonus, you also gain a little lift as you cross close behind the other boat. It’s important though, as you cross close behind to get back to closed hauled as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If you do this well, there is a good chance that next time you come together you will be on starboard tack. Now you will have the advantage. This is especially powerful at the top of the course, a few lengths under starboard tack-layline.
If it appears the other boat will leebow you, and for tactical reasons, you want to continue, try a late duck. This will keep you from giving away your intentions. For this to work you must be in a lightweight boat with good manoeuvrability
Avoid The Pinwheel Effect at a Mark Rounding:
As an outside boat in a group approaching the leeward mark, don’t carry on with pace. Not only will you sail extra distance in bad air, but you will also get carried wide around the mark. You will also end up in a terrible lane coming out the other side.
The remedy here is to slow down and let other boats move ahead. Kill speed by taking your spinnaker down early and steer a little extra distance.
If you’re advanced on the group, you can slow down a lot by steering hard, swerving back and forth, and swinging wide to slow your boat and kill time.
The advantage of falling behind is that the group in front push each other wide of the mark and sails in each other’s bad air. There is the opportunity for you to round the mark tightly without fouling those boats and be on the inside track going upwind.
When slowing down and waiting for your opportunity to round inside, there could be boats coming up from behind with no room. If they want to sail into the gap you’re shooting for, be sure to communicate with them that they have no rights.
Recover from Overstanding:
If you find that you have overstood a mark, the key to recovery is to crack off and put the bow down to get to the mark as quickly as possible.
In medium and heavy air, cracking off causes heel, so depower the rig, traveller down, backstay on, hike hard, and move your weight aft.
Set the sails to reduce helm but always keep a little in the bank by sailing slightly high of the mark especially if you’re sailing in current or just in case you get headed or a boat tacks on you.
If you have overstood while sailing downwind, sail high and fast toward the leeward mark. If sailing high puts you in the dirty air from boats ahead, sail low to keep your air clear. Do this as long as possible, then heat it up late near the mark.
At all times, either upwind or downwind, keep the boat flat to avoid going sideways and keep the foils working efficiently.