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Math - speed gain needed to close a seconds-per-mile gap
Sailormon6 said it best.
It is time that counts.
Nobody runs the same tacks upwind nor has the same wind, esspecially if racing PHRF.
This is not NASCAR.
I have a heavy cruiser with a centerboard. As such, until the wind gets to 12 knots or so, I am footing the boat and subsequently sailing a lot further. VMG may help make sense in such a case, but then you need to ask the other guy what his VMG was.
In the downwind leg, nobody should be going straight downwind as it is just plain slow. You need to be sailing apparent wind angles and using the extra speed to cancel out the additional distance. Again VMG (this is where a GPS earns it''s keep provided you remember to keep looking for wind and not staring at the instruments).
And finally, boat speed difference will tell you zip about what you really need to know. What you need to know is how many seconds you were behind the lead boat at each turning mark. Then you know where you made time or lost time. At which point you know where you have to invest some effort to get better.
If you are 25 seconds behind crossing the starting line (don''t laugh, most boats average 20-40 seconds off the line as seen from the RC boat), 15 seconds behind at the windward mark and 30 seconds out of the money at the end, you know you need to pratice being on the line correctly, and need to review what happened on the downwind leg (different gybe angles, you sailed into lighter wind, you went to the wrong end of the pin etc).
Someone on board ought to be keeping track of this (bonus is you can see which direction they are heading on the next leg) and then you can talk about it with the crew on the ride back to the dock. Identifying weaknesses and correcting them is how you move from the back of the fleet to the front.