Some Basic Tactics
Team racing is about getting the three boats from your team across the finish line in a winning combination through sailing skill, rules knowledge and cunning strategies and tactics. Good team racers combine all of these elements in their winning ways!
Read the Rules of Part 2 and Appendix D of the Racing Rules of Sailing so that you are familiar with the rules governing team racing. And above all read the sailing instructions for this event!!
Starting – Defensive
Some suggestions if you are being hunted in the prestart. The general idea is to create confusion for your opponent by introducing as many variables into the equation as possible. Each variable gives you a chance to turn the tables.
- Go head to wind. A good move if you want to stay in the same spot for a period of time for example to judge your run for the line.
- Try to lead opposition into committee boat
- Swap opposition boats with a boat from your own team.
- Lead opposition into a boat from your team on starboard or a boat from their own team.
Starting – Offensive
If in control of an opponent before the start try to:
- Force opposition boat away from start line preferably downwind.
- Force opponent over start line with less than thirty seconds to go without crossing yourself.
Upwind – Defensive
If an opponent tries a slam dunk you:
- Bear off before opposition boat has completed tack to get out of their wind shadow.
- Tack immediately.
- Never do both, choose one and stick with it!!!
If cover cannot be shaken:
- Tack on another opposition boat.
- Get a team mate to tack on the boat covering you.
- Do a double tack (two tacks in quick succession) This is an absolute last resort and relies on two conditions to work: a) the opposition boat must follow you through both tacks and b) you must be able to tack faster than your opponent.
Upwind - Offensive
Many believe the first beat of a team race should be sailed as if it were a fleet race. While this approach has some merit, especially against weaker sailors, it is generally inappropriate in Teams Racing. Alternatively a lot of people forget that a team race is still a yachting race and things like shifts, gusts and tidal factors can easily win a team the race.
- Sail the shifts.
- Take into account where the tide is strongest and which direction it is flowing.
- Sail the favoured side of the course relative to your opponents.
- Tack only if you will gain more out of tacking than you will lose in the tack.
- Think about the big picture!!
Reaching and Downwind - Defensive
On the first beat of a team race you should
- Think about buoy room for the next marks (two and three) before you even round mark one or mark three. Marks are a rare opportunity to pass the opposition.
- Do not take an opposition boat up if there is another opposition boat behind them. Only take an opposition boat up if that boat is followed by one of your team mates and that team mate is not followed immediately by another opposition boat. In reverse these are offensive moves.
- Generally think what is the best overall option for the team.
- Think about the big picture!!
Reaching – Offensive
- The crew's position in the boat and trimming of the sails are crucial - almost to the point that this should be all they are concentrating on in heavy winds.
- Think about the big picture!!
Downwind – Offensive
- Crews do not sit there for the ride!! They should constantly be watching the immediate opposition and tell the skipper:
1. What other boats are doing.
2. What gusts are coming.
3. Whether the boat is going fast relative to other boats.
4. If the team is winning or losing.
- If one opposition boat rounds in front of two boats from your team, one boat sails the fastest course to bottom mark while the other boat covers the lead opposition boat.
- Think about the big picture!!
- Do not finish if your team is losing! Once you cross that line you cannot influence anything on the race course. You have to try something or be able to see that another team member can and will do something. Look before you finish and think about the big picture!!
- Remember that there are a total of 21 points available and your teams score must be 10 or less for a winning combination.
Strategies and Tactics
The ability to formulate a strategy, change it as needed, and execute flawless tactics to carry it out will determine your success as a team racer. You can think of your strategy as your plan for winning, and tactics as the tools you use to bring the plan to fruition. In team racing, there are as many ways to win a race as there are winning combinations Thus, from the moment the race begins you and your team mates will be seeking to achieve and maintain a winning combination However, which combination you pursue will undoubtedly change at points during the race. For example, if your team gets a great start - first, second, and fifth off of the line - your initial strategy may be to go fast and hope for a breakaway 1-2-anything at the first mark. Later in the race, circumstances may change such that a 2-3-4 looks like the most feasible winning combination, and achieving those finishes will be your new strategy. Your opponent will rarely make it easy for you to get and hold a winning combination, so your ability to adapt to the changing position of all boats will dictate your strategy as the race progresses. Think about the big picture!!
Your strategy will only be as good as your tactics. In team racing, tactics refer to the manoeuvres and positioning of the your boats relative to your opponent's. In order to compete both fairly and with cunning, you must have a strong grasp of the racing rules. A good team racer uses the rules to their advantage and finds opportunity for gain at all points in the race. Mark roundings, in particular, are often where substantial lead changes occur. Close-quarters manoeuvring at the marks requires a thorough knowledge of rules and fast decision making. Failure to anticipate an opponent's boat placement and attack can take you out of the race very quickly. Think about the big picture!!
Below are some of the more common tactical manoeuvres encountered in a team race. The descriptions describe the execution of the manoeuvres.
The Mark Trap
Mark traps are used frequently in team racing. The basic idea is arrive at a mark prior to your opponent, slow down, and then force the opponent to round outside of you (because they fail to obtain an inside overlap at the two-boatlength circle.) When the opponent begins to round outside of you, you accelerate and create an opening between your boat and the mark. Ideally, a lagging team mate will sail through this opening, passing both you and the opponent, while the opponent remains trapped well outside of the mark. This manoeuvre is often used at the gybe mark, however it can be employed at all other marks. The new racing rules increase the effectiveness of this manoeuvre by eliminating "mast abeam," the position at which the outside opponent could force you to round the mark.
Pinning an Opponent
Team racers frequently try to control the course and progress of their opponents by covering them closely on beats. When a boat is so tightly covered that it cannot tack, it is 'pinned.' Often, the only way to free a pinned team-mate is to pin the opponent who has them trapped. The idea is to aggressively sail into a covering position and prevent the opponent from tacking while your pinned team-mate tacks and ducks away to clear air.
Sailing High on the Reach
Everyone knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Well, when you are behind in a team race, a common tactic is to force your opponent to sail anything but a straight line to the next mark. One or more boats on a losing team will often sail high angles on the reach legs in an effort to draw the leaders away from the rhumb line. If the leading boats defend the high reach lanes, it may be possible for one boat on the losing team to sail straight into a leading position, simply by sticking to the rhumb line. If it works, this tactic can change the complexion of a race significantly by the time the boats reach the next mark.
The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) apply to team racing except as modified by Appendix D – Team Racing Rules of the RRS. The Rules of Part 2 – When Boats Meet are particularly important and a good knowledge of these rules can help give a tactical advantage. Here’s a summary of them with a note on those which are changed for Team Racing under Appendix D
RRS What its about
12 clear astern/clear ahead
13 while tacking
14 avoiding contact
15 acquiring right of way
16.1 changing course
16.2 changing course when crossing
17.1 without luffing rights
17.2 windward or clear ahead's proper course (Change in D1.1 (a))
18 marks and obstructions
18.1 when 18 applies
18.3 tacking at a mark
- is deleted by App D D1.1(b)
22.2 addition to the basic rule in D1.1 (b)
- additional rule in D 1.1 (d) on interfering with another boat
- outside help can be given by a team mate D1.1 (e)
44 penalties for breaking a Rule of Part 2. D2.1 (b) (See below)
Read also the definition of Room
Team Racing Questions:
Question: I'm 1st of a 1-5-6 at the windward mark, what do I do?
Answer: Keep the 1st and trust your team-mates to execute a Hi-Lo on 4.
Question: I'm 1st of a 1-5-6 at the leeward mark, what do I do?
Answer: Execute a mark trap and keep the 1 unless you can take out two opponents.
Question: What are winning combinations?
Answer: Winning combinations are any team score which is 10 or less, such as
1st-2nd & anything, 2nd-3rd-4th , 2nd – 3rd –5th or 1st and not last, etc.
The Umpires and Penalties on the Water
This event will be fully umpired and there will be a two flag call system in place.
If you are in an incident in which you believe there is an infringement the following action is required:
If you are the protesting boat at the time of the incident, you should hail PROTEST and display the red flag supplied immediately. Make sure that the hail and display are heard and seen by the following umpire boat.
If you are the protested boat you must now decide if you are in the wrong and if you want to take the penalty. To take the penalty, you should immediately indicate this by holding up a hand with an open palm and indicating your intention. Then sail clear and perform your 360° Penalty Turn.
The protesting boat must give time for the protestee to respond. However, if after a 20-25 second time elapse there is no response, she should then display the yellow flag and call for an umpire to decide the protest. The umpires will only respond to this yellow flag.
If the umpires decide that there has been a rule infringement, they will show a red flag while pointing at the boat which infringed and calling her sail number. That boat must then sail clear and perform her 720° Penalty Turn.
A green flag will be given if a) there was no infringement, b) the hail and red flag were not timely, c) the yellow flag was displayed too late or too early for the protestee to respond or d) the umpires did not have a clear view of the incident and cannot decide the issue. No penalty is imposed by the green flag.
If there is a major incident, the umpires may display a black flag. This means that the protest will be taken ashore or afloat after the race. The black flag does not impose a penalty, and you should continue to sail on to your finish.