Saturday, September 14, 2013

Never tack first

The AC circus is on, and it is - surprisingly - fun to watch. The TV production is pretty good. The speak is - hmm - working hard to make sailing understandable for the masses, except when they confuse the boats. The boats themselves are spectacular, but the sailing itself is rather mediocre. After seven races it seems Team NZL is a bit faster and smarter. Not that they need to be. Here's a little something from race five to illustrate it:
Never tack first
It's in every book about tactics. The full title would be "Never tack first when you round the downwind mark first". The graphics shows what happened in race five, but it shows only half the problems. Yellow is clear ahead and tacks right after the mark. This maneuver has the following consequences:
  1. Yellow looses speed and distance to Blue.
  2. Yellow looses the opportunity to cover Blue.
  3. Yellow allows Blue to choose his own route upwind.
Bad idea. Always watch the follower, then make your move. Most racers learn this before they leave the Opti. The crazy thing is - Team USA was well aware of the cost of that extra turn as they got the lead from forcing Team NZL to do it in race one. To make matters worse Spithill and co even tacked into a massive current running against them? There's no way this makes sense. I mean, they are pros. Right? They simply need to up their game or it is game over for Spithill and co.  

After race five Team USA pulled the "Go easy on us"-card, postponing race six. And for good reasons. They've spent way too much time already watching Barker and Co's behind. Effectively, this move gave Team USA an extra day of hard work, whereas Team NZL got a day of rest. Now, after two more races, - I dunno. Which was better?

Then what? They could start replacing people on key posts on board; That doesn't seem to help a lot either. Question is: Can they make a new team work on such short notice?

Hmm. Then there's boat number two. I am guessing they'll save boat number two for desperate times. Anytime soon now.

Finally there's the option described over at improper course and it is hilarious. Go there and have a laugh. Once done with that, there's Buff Staysail reporting over at Captain JP's. Always worth a read. The drinking game mentioned over there is absolutely deadly.

Perhaps we could help those guys a bit by assembling a handfull of tactical NOTs. Not that tactics seem to mean a lot in these boats. Still, feel free to fire away in the comments...


  1. G'day Noodle! Ta for the thumbs up for the drinking game: I can't seem to get JP to play. Jeez!

  2. It is a major bummer. The interesting question is: What pushed JK to make that mistake. What's even more interesting is that BA seems to make a difference.


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