Advanced Mark Rounding Strategy

Copyright (c) 2008 Doug Peckover
The final step in the 2008 Texas Laser circuit was Wurstfest. Red Laser and Green Laser were tied going into the final race and in the overall Texas circuit results. Red was very fast in these light conditions and was leading in the race. The last leeward rounding was an important chance for Green to gain.

Red was ahead of Yellow from Austin and was gently pulling ahead as the boats were 100 yards from the bottom mark. There were also 4 Vanguard 15s in Blue on the same course. The wind was coming slightly from the left.

The danger to Green is Red rounding in front of the V15’s with Green behind them, thus making it harder for Green to catch or stay in touch with Red.

What did Green do to prevent this from happening?

Green waited for separation between Red and Yellow to materialize so he could make his move. Green headed up gaining speed and went between Yellow and Red in an effort to get inside Red, but this put Green in Yellow’s wind shadow. Holding this position would not work for long so Red did not change course to defend against Green. This was expected.

Green immediately jibed onto starboard. This was a legal jibe and no overlap was established as a result of it. Green immediately hailed Red “starboard, starboard, starboard” in one second intervals. This hailing was for 3 reasons:

1. Jibing onto starboard before the port tack rounding needed for the upcoming mark rounding caught Red by surprise.

2. Hailing multiple times kept pressure on Red.

3. Counting in one second increments meant that a collision after, say, four starboards meant that Red had 4 seconds to respond. This is more than enough “room and opportunity” for a port tack boat to keep clear, making everyone in the vicinity a potential witness in a protest hearing.

In this quiet but firm way, maximum pressure was put on Red to overreact, which he did. This was needed because there was no overlap between Green and Red, so Green had no way to exercise his rights or slow Red down without heading upwind and losing his inside position for room at the mark.

Red jibed and then starting hailing the V15s that they also had to jibe quickly – something that they were not expecting so close to the mark.

This created confusion. In addition, Red and the V15s all faced away from the approaching mark rather than just sail towards it in preparation for a simple rounding.

Green, exercising his rights as the leeward boat, headed up enough to stay out of Yellow’s shadow. This helped Green gain a little speed to establish an overlap.

With inside room at the mark, Green was able to not only pass Red but also all V15s, which had all slowed down in the confusion.

Green went on to win the race, Wurstfest, and Texas Laser circuit.

The lesson here is that there are always ways to pass at a mark. In this case, 5 boats were passed by waiting for the right moment and then by catching people by surprise.

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