Join Date: May 2002
Thanked 52 Times in 50 Posts
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I agree with CaptnPea that it depends on a lot of variables. When beating to windward, I steer to the telltales. When the windward telltale lifts, I bear off slightly. In a heavier boat or in lighter air or in choppier seas, I tend to bear off the wind an extra degree or two, to make sure that the sails are always driving even when the bow gets bumped by a wave. When reaching in steady winds, I usually steer to the reaching mark and constantly re-trim the sails with each shift, to sail the shortest distance at the highest speed. In variable winds, however, I will often steer high or low of the reaching mark, to take advantage of an expected wind shift or puff, traveling a slightly longer distance but at a higher average speed and in less time. When running downwind, I steer the course that will get to the leeward mark in the least amount of time. In a decent puff, I steer more downwind, often gybing the main to expose as much sail area as possible, and as the wind eases, I gybe back and steer more to a broad reach and start hunting for a puff.
I avoid pinching like the Plague. Occasionally I値l pinch for a few seconds at a time, when I知 using a specific tactic that relies on the ability of the boat to coast briefly, such as steering a scalloping course or shooting a mark. I never try to fetch a windward mark by pinching. The more you pinch, the less likely you are to make it. If I find we are not quite fetching the mark, I値l bear off a little further to increase speed, and then, when within about one boat length or less, steer the boat directly into the wind, letting the sails luff. The boat will usually coast far enough to windward so that you can steer around the mark and fill your sails as you do so. If I知 approaching the mark so far to leeward that I can稚 shoot the mark, then I値l take two short tacks to get around it. Once you learn how to shoot the mark, you値l be less inclined to overstand the layline, because you値l feel confident that you can get around it without taking two tacks, in the event you misjudge it slightly or get headed at the last moment.