Boat handling for rounding the windward mark and offset mark - part 1.


By Andrew Kerr


This is the first of two articles on rounding the windward mark and offset mark.  In this article we will look at the boat handling skills a team needs to practice and develop, in the second article we will look at tactics we can use at these marks.


The 2008 class Championships in Eugene (and many other events all over the country) are likely to feature a large fleet - 30 to 45 boats.  Given the fleet size there, is a good chance that the race committee will look to use an offset mark to reduce congestion at the windward mark.


With that in mind take every opportunity for your team to practice rounding a mark, sail on a reach for a short distance and then bear away and set the spinnaker.


Even if your team does not anticipate sailing with an offset mark this season, the vast majority of the information below will still help your team be smoother at the windward mark rounding.


Approaching the windward mark:








Between the windward mark and the offset mark – sail fast!!


As a coach I observe and video tape a lot of races and one of the common threads is the gains and losses for teams when sailing between the marks – particularly in the extremes of conditions – very light or heavy air.


Key elements for sailing fast between the marks are:








Setting the spinnaker between the marks:


With the wind shifting to the right and your team getting lifted on starboard tack going into the mark there may be an opportunity to set between the marks, here is a check list for this:










Extra’s extras, extra’s!








All the above is well worth practicing – there are good gains to be had here for your team and over the course of a series the points gained will add up. In our next article we will examine some tactics your team can use at the windward and offset mark.


Good sailing!