Author: David Dellenbaugh

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Another Strategy for Using Line Sights

By David Dellenbaugh

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Using a line “sight” or “range” at the start is a tried-and-true method for making sure you are as close to the starting line as possible at the gun (but not OCS). I always use a line sight whenever I can find one, and this has helped me get some great starts. But there is one thing I do a little differently than many sailors. The standard way to get a line sight is by sailing outside…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Escape from the Leeward Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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When you get to the leeward mark, it’s important to make a good approach and a smooth turn around the mark. But the real measure of a successful rounding is how you come away from the mark. As you begin the next leg, you want good speed, clear air and the ability to follow your upwind strategy. I call this final part of the rounding an ‘escape’ because often it is just that. With so many other…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Converging on Starboard Tack

By David Dellenbaugh

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Last month we discussed the tactical moves available to a boat that is converging on port tack on a beat. There is a similar set of tactics for the boat on starboard tack (S). Since S has the right of way, she usually has more influence over what happens when the boats come together. However, simply having the right of way is not necessarily enough to ensure that you can sail in the direction you want after…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Converging on the Port Tack

By David Dellenbaugh

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By far the most common way that two boats interact on a beat is when they come together on opposite tacks. This happens many times during a race, and the tactics you choose to employ in each case can make a huge difference in your race results. The obvious first step is keeping a good lookout so you know when another boat is coming. The next step, and probably the most important when boats converge, is to…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Factors that Influence Layline Position

By David Dellenbaugh

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A layline is the path you would sail, when steering your optimal upwind or downwind course, to get around the next mark on one tack. We all know that laylines are invisible, of course, but many sailors don’t realize how much (and how often) laylines move around. Laylines are a function of many variables such as wind direction, wind speed, sea state and current strength. Therefore, whenever there is a change in any one of these things…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Beat Your Competition to the Finish

By David Dellenbaugh

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You may have a great strategy for getting to the finish line quickly, but it won’t help you much if you let other boats push you around. That’s why having good boat-on-boat tactics is so important. Tactics are the moves you make to stay in control of your race and follow your strategic plan. When you’re approaching a finish line, there are basically two tactical approaches you might take. You can either try to catch the boat(s)…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

When the Leeward Mark is a Gate

By David Dellenbaugh

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It has become commonplace, in many fleets during recent years, to sail windward-leeward courses with a gate for the leeward mark. Personally, I like this course a lot because it emphasizes tactics and strategy, eliminates reaching parades (particularly in light and moderate air) and keeps the fleet closer together. But racing with a gate offers a whole new set of tactical and strategic challenges. It means you must make a choice about which mark to round, and…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Good Moves at the Windward Mark

By David Dellenbaugh

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When there are no other boats around, it’s easy to execute a good windward mark rounding. But unless you’re near the front (or back!) of the fleet, you normally have plenty of company as you approach the mark. And they’re all trying to beat you! In order to implement your mark-rounding strategy (i.e. to have an optimal rounding), one thing you need is good tactics. Tactics are the boat-on-boat moves you make to follow your chosen course…

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Sail the Longer Tack First

By David Dellenbaugh

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When it comes to strategy on a beat, my most valuable guiding principle of all time has been to sail the longer tack first. It’s amazing how often this works and how much you can gain by doing it. The geometry of your racecourse is one factor you must consider in any strategic plan. And the most important geometric question by far is whether one tack is longer than the other. Here are some things to consider….

Up to Speed & Smarts with Dells

Current: Don’t Try to Swim Upstream

By David Dellenbaugh

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Many sailors misjudge the strategic importance of current. They either make current too much of a priority when choosing their first-beat strategy, or they underestimate the effects of current as they approach the first mark. Here are some strategic tips that should help you go with the flow. • Seeing and measuring current. Before you can include current in your strategy, you must know the current set (direction of flow) and drift (speed) across the race course….

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