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Yacht Racing - Allowances For Tide Or Current-Shoal Spots

( Originally Published 1911 )

IN a great many localities, especially on salt water, the tide or current runs strong enough to be carefully figured on in sailing a race. You should always know whether the tide is coming or going, and in what general direction it runs on various parts of the course. If the wind is light it may make a great difference to the boat if she is held slightly high of the course to offset the tide or current. You should also use judgment in rounding marks and know how the current runs past them, so that you shall not be set down on the marks and foul them, being unable to get clear at the last moment.

In river and lake sailing there is usually a back eddy close to shore, or under certain points of land, and these favorable spots should be worked, as a head current retards the progress of a boat very materially. I have had experience in river and lake sailing where two rivers meet; the current in one being very strong and yet twenty feet further off ; in the other there is practically still water, the dividing line being marked by shoal water and a distinct difference in the color of the water, one being brown and the other green. Use one current in beating to windward and the other in returning before the wind.

Many races are won by reason of the skipper knowing where the shoal spots lie and avoiding them, as the boat slows up in shoal water ; also by his knowing how to work the shore with its eddies and favorable slants of wind, and where the current or tide will favor him the greatest when sailing in a certain direction. If you are drifting along over a finish line, as is often the case, going directly with the current, it sometimes is an excellent scheme to slightly turn your boat across the current in order to bring the flat side of your fin or centerboard against the strength of push of the current, this offering more resistance than through the sharp front and rear edge of the fin.

If you are uncertain about the direction of tide or current it is a good rule to keep slightly to windward of the course, having a little to come and go on. at all times.

In reaching across a current that is fast setting you to windward, keep well to leeward of your mark in order to sail a straight line. Remember that the general tendency of a man setting out to windward, sailing a boat on a reach, is to keep the bow of the boat on the mark, where in reality the boat is sailing high of her course going through an arc of a circle.

To tell exactly how you are sailing get directly amidships and look along over your bow.

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