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When to tack?  Bottom

  • I am fairly new to cat racing, so please excuse me if this is has an obvious answer.

    I was wondering if there is a rule of thumb for when to tack during a race? I have a book on cat sailing, but this topic is not addressed. In a recent race while sailing hard to weather, I found myself staying on a particular tack longer than most other boats, so I felt like I was sailing way off the straight line path to the finish. How do you weigh the extra sailing distance of staying on a tack longer and the extra time to tack the boat?
  • Tactics excluded I'd not sail much past the point when you can make your target hard a beam and tack through a little more than 90 degrees in practice. Don't overstay your mark and you will do fine. But sailing away from all the rest brings the risk that they may hit better winds and leave you behind. It could be the other way around though, but don't bet on it unless you have local knowledge on your side!
  • i am no expert at all, believe me, but my favorite tactic is to identify the best sailors before the race, and follow them. local knowledge trumps general knowledge many times(tide,wind tendancies,etc.). the dauphin island race, for example, has a tendancy for the wind to be light at the start(not this year!), if the tide is coming in during the start, you can be going backwards! the locals have this trick of putting out the anchor and passing boats! two years ago it took us 2 hours to cross the start line, we were passing boats with our anchor out...weird. this year we didn't follow the locals and we lost before the first hour of the race just because they knew the bay and its tendancies and we used common sense. the slip to ship regatta has a local trick too...if the wind is light at the start, follow the bay bridge and west side of the bay, for some reason the wind blows harder by the bridge and the current is less than in the middle of the bay(lost the 1st race last year using common sense also). you may have good tactical knowledge of racing but the locals may know some tricks for every condition that trumps sound doctrine...study the sailors who win the races, buy them coctails and loosen up there tongues!

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  • You need to do a little reading. You must know the difference between a lift and a header. While going to weather a lift (lifting you towards the mark) is good and a header (heading you away from the mark) is bad, when going down wind a lift is bad (taking you away from the mark) and a header (takes you towards the mark) is good, for the same reason as above. While sailing to weather take a look behind you and if you are sailing at or above your wake, if you are, you are probably okay. If you are sailing a course below your wake you are being headed, not good. When you are sailing to weather one of the tacks will be favored. When you understand this you will do a lot better. The sailor who knows this will always kick your butt.
  • Right. I think I understand the concept, but what about over a 40 or even a 80 mile course where repeated tacking is necessary? During this past Miami Key Largo Race, we were sailing in Biscayne Bay south with the wind straight out of the south. It seemed like we were sailing from one end of the bay to the other (staying on tacks longer), while the other guys were sticking to the eastern side of the bay and tacking back and forth more often. They generally outran us and I was wondering if there was a rule of thumb to know when or how often to tack in a situation like this? We had planned to stay with the group during the race and see their techniques, but we got left behind pretty quickly....
  • multimatt what about over a 40 or even a 80 mile course where repeated tacking is necessary? During this past Miami Key Largo Race, we were sailing in Biscayne Bay south with the wind straight out of the south. It seemed like we were sailing from one end of the bay to the other (staying on tacks longer), while the other guys were sticking to the eastern side of the bay and tacking back and forth more often.


    I've wondered this same thing during distance races. During triangles you can judge when to tack based on the laylines and favorable winds, but twice I've been faced with direct head winds (from the west) during the Round the Island race between Fort Walton and Pensacola FL.

    When you have over 50 miles straight into a very steady wind, how many times should I tack? In my case the course is along the open Gulf shoreline and (small) surf break with the shoreline tending to the south, so it's tack offshore, then back into shore until you get near the breakers, then back offshore (but how far, that is the question). I realize in my particular case there can be a shore effect that may produce more wind near shore, so shorter tacks would keep you in the wind.

    But what about if everything was perfect, say an A mark that is 50 miles away and no wind shifts at all, how many tacks, or how long is each tack?

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    Memphis, TN

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  • QuoteBut what about if everything was perfect, say an A mark that is 50 miles away and no wind shifts at all, how many tacks, or how long is each tack?

    3 (or as few as possible... every tack is hitting the breaks!)
  • a



    Edited by MN3 on May 10, 2011 - 06:52 AM.

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