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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:47 pm 
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What is the thinking for getting around the course fastest? On the second windward leg would you typically throw in an extra two tacks to hopefully shorten your distance or would you sail out to the lay line and do a single tack. My observation is that most of the H16 guy try to avoid the extra tacks. (That’s what I have generally been doing.) My sailing coach says that just wrong.

I am talking about a course without gates (SACACF). How would your strategy change when you introduce gates?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:20 pm 
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All things being equal (no velocity (pressure) differences, no wind shifts, no current effects, no wave size differences, no geographical influences), it pays to minimize the number of tacks.

On the course you describe (a Course 1, no gate), that means rounding the C mark to port, going to the right the right corner and tacking on the layline.

Real life is much more messy, of course, and that's what makes sailboat racing interesting.

Monohulls do not loose much distance when tacking - in fact, a properly roll-tacked boat will not lose any distance when tacking. In that case, it pays to play the shifts - tack on the headers, power through the lifts. However, once you get to the layline, you lose the option to tack on a header. Monohulls are also speed limited - above a certain, relatively low wind speed, they just don't go much faster.

Catamarans lose a lot of distance when tacking, and go much faster in higher pressure. Therefore, the strategy is to minimize tacks and go hunting for more pressure. Generally, one side of the course will have better pressure than the other. Figuring out the favored side is a key skill in catamaran racing.

A gate introduces tactical considerations by allowing you to split with your competition without the need for an additional tack. Gates provide more passing lanes than a single leeward mark.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:57 pm 
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Well ... I hesitate to give my opinion since any time Matt and I have appeared on the same race course, I'm not sure he even knew I was there. So I'd like to agree with him loudly and argumentatively.

Matt says "Real life is much more messy, of course, and that's what makes sailboat racing interesting." So then the answer, in real life, is take as many tacks as you can afford, because they do cost something, to chase the pressure and the shifts. On a real life full size course we're not talking about one or three we're talking about four or five. My real life race courses usually have lots of gusts and shore effects. Your mileage may vary.

Matt says "However, once you get to the layline, you lose the option to tack on a header." So it follows that you want to delay your arrival at the layline by working up the middle, (looking for the pressure and the shifts), and not "bang the corners", sometimes phrased as "bang the doors."

Matt says "Generally, one side of the course will have better pressure than the other. Figuring out the favored side is a key skill in catamaran racing." Key as in the most important thing. Figure out where the pressure is and go there. Don't count tacks.

Matt says "A gate introduces tactical considerations by allowing you to split with your competition without the need for an additional tack. Gates provide more passing lanes than a single leeward mark." Splitting from other boats and passing lanes are important but small potatoes, at least at my end of the fleet, compared to
100 or 200 meters (or yards) that sailing on the correct side of the course will give you when there's a four or six knot difference in wind speed.

Just as a corollary, the cost of a jibe is much less, you spend less time going slow and they take less time. So going downhill is the time to be more aggressive and chase every puff and shift.

Agreed.

Loudly.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:08 am 
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There is no clear cut answer to this question, you always have to keep your eyes open and consider all options.

If every catamaran race were as simple as sail around the leeward mark, hit the starboard layline, and sail up to the weather mark, it would be a much more boring sport...more of a parade than a tactical race.

Optimizing your VMG (which is a huge part of what sailboat racing is all about) means both sailing in the strongest breeze AND sailing in the right direction. This occasionally means sacrificing a few seconds while tacking in order to make big gains (or minimize big losses). Tacks cost time (5 to 10 seconds per tack). Sailing in the wrong direction/to the wrong side of the course costs distance which can be measured anywhere from a few feet up to a half a mile. Over the course of a race, this can add up to several minutes of lost time. In a light, shifty race, you may find yourself doing numerous tacks in order to stay in the breeze.

As an example, suppose you rounded C mark and were sailing upwind at 10mph and decided to just bang the right-hand corner. Your competitor rounds C mark right behind you and notices a shift to the left and decides to tack. His double tack ends up costing him 20 seconds total. However, sailing on the wrong side of the left shift means you sailed 500 feet farther than he did, or 34 seconds of extra sailing time. This means that at A mark, in spite of doing two extra tacks, your competitor rounds 14 seconds ahead of you. Also, had the C mark been a gate and your competitor rounded the starboard gate mark (looking downwind), he would have shaved off one more tack and rounded A mark 24 seconds ahead of you. The gate allows a sailor to eliminate one tack if they choose to sail up the left side of the course.

Another thing to keep in mind is that trying to judge the starboard layline from all the way out at the right corner is pretty difficult. As stated before, once you're on the layline, any shift other than a slight lift will hurt you. A header means you either have to pinch or double tack. A major lift means you sailed much farther than needed. A slight lift will allow you to foot off for speed which usually allows you to make up for the extra distance sailed.

sm


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:57 pm 
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If the wind is not going to shift, and you can hit the next layline without sailing an extra boat length, by all means, hit the corner. If the wind does shift, the now moving corner point means you are most likely screwed. I can remember one race in 4 decades where the wind direction never changed. If you can hit a corner over a half mile away, without loosing an extra boat length, you are better than anyone I've ever seen, and I've seen some pretty daggone good ones up close on the course.

Hitting a corner is most often a desperation move when you are behind and need to pass someone to gain a position in the regatta. It almost never works to your advantage on a large course. I remember it working once in 1976.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:22 pm 
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The better question is which corner to hit. If there is no current, then you try to play the side the wind is rotating to. The example in Southern California in many events, the wind starts south and shifts to the right as the day progresses. Going to the right pays in this case. Cycling shifts may make one side good one leg, the other leg the next. Current or wave action can also play into this. Inside to the right may be smooth and protected, but outside is more windy. Now the choice becomes more difficult, it's more a measure of degree. How much rougher, how much wind? These are the details that keep the dedicated racer racing year after year.


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