Common Myths of Competitive Sailing
MYTHS REGARDING CURRENT ACROSS THE COURSE
MYTH — Your apparent wind will be different on each tack. Since you sail faster over the bottom on the down current tack, you’ll feel more wind on that tack and this will affect sail trim and speed.
TRUTH — The apparent wind on both tacks is affected equally by the current, so you will feel the same wind and therefore need the same sail trim on each tack.
MYTH — You can improve VMG by pinching to get the current on
the leeward side of your bow.
TRUTH — It doesn’t matter where you are heading since the current only
pushes your boat in the direction it is moving. So pinching will be slower.
MYTH — On a beat, it’s always better to sail the up current tack first.
TRUTH — Current affects all boats equally, so as long as you don’t overstand the mark it doesn’t matter where you are. But if the up-current tack is much longer, it may be better to sail that tack first.
MYTH — If the starting line is square to the wind, it’s better to start at
the up current end.
TRUTH — All boats are being pushed in the same direction by the current, so it doesn’t matter where you start on the line (as far as current is concerned).
MYTHS REGARDING STARTING
MYTH — If you are in the middle of the starting line and you turn up so your bow is pointing straight into the wind, the end of the line that is closer to your bow is the end that is favoured.
TRUTH — Going head to wind in the middle of the line will help you determine which end of the starting line is farther upwind, but that end is not necessarily ‘favoured.’ The favoured end of the starting line is the one that will get you to the windward mark sooner, taking into account a number of strategic and tactical factors including which end is farther upwind (and by how much).
MYTH — You should be more careful at the start when the race committee has signalled with flags that a starting penalty is in effect. Because of this, you should be more conservative as you approach the line.
TRUTH — Even when there is no special starting penalty in effect, the consequences of being over the starting line prematurely can be severe. You should not change your approach to the start just because one of these flags is displayed the rest of the fleet will be hanging back so your chances of a great start are much better.