“Warning, warning, you are not sailing towards the mark. You better be right because this is often bad!” The longer I sail away from the mark, the louder the alarm.
When do you not sail toward the mark? There are, of course, exceptions to the long tack rule (as with any other): You can sail the short tack when: You’re sailing toward more wind, getting a better lane, or sailing towards a significant gain, such as favorable current or a geographic shift. The other exception is sailing into a heading persistent shift, but these are somewhat rare. The exceptions occur about 10 percent of the time, the other 90 percent of the time you should be sailing toward the mark.
3 — Keep it Simple
Keeping it simple means avoiding crowds, not tacking or jibing too much, and avoiding drama. Most good races are clean and simple. Minimizing maneuvers is pretty straightforward—they often slow you down, so doing fewer of them will help you go fast. In other words, sail straight and sail fast.
Drama can rear its ugly head in a myriad of situations. By way of explanation, I’ll give an example of something all too familiar. You’re sailing downwind on starboard jibe. You’re in a nice puff and aiming towards the mark. Life is good. Then, there’s a boat approaching on port that can almost cross you but can’t quite make it. Rather then heading up to go behind them and waving them across, you holler, “Starboard!” and at the last second, you bear away, crash jibe, and hail, “protest.” You get tangled up with the port boat, and after a bit of arguing they spin, while you jibe back onto starboard and continue on towards the mark. Nice job. Now what exactly did you just gain?
You may have won the skirmish, but you’ve made an enemy and lost sight of the big picture. While you were messing around, exercising your rights as a starboard tack-yacht, and feeling good about yourself, the rest of the fleet was sailing fast toward the mark. The point is: minimize the drama and have fewer maneuvers. You’ll get around the course in less time (you’ll also have more fun and maybe even pick up an “I owe you” for later.)
Next time you find yourself looking for a game plan, or stressing too much about the minor stuff like the jib-lead position, or one turn on the lowers, make sure you are in the most wind and aiming at the mark before you do anything else! You don’t have to be perfect; just stick to these three rules and you’ll find yourself on the podium more often.
What if you’re on the long tack but there is more wind somewhere else. Should you leave the long tack for more wind? This is often a tough call, and you have to weigh the gain from the wind versus the gain from staying on the long tack and heading towards the next shift, if any. These types of decisions are tough, and you have to do the best you can and base your decision on what you’ve experienced. If you don’t think the wind will shift back much, go for the wind; if the long tack will take you toward a nice shift, stay on the long tack.
Thanks to Sailing World for sharing this article