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Yacht Racing - Two Boats Approaching A Mark

( Originally Published 1911 )

A GREAT many of the fouls and pro-tests that are handed into the Regatta Committee to decide are caused when two boats are approaching a mark, or actually rounding it. Somebody had the right-of-way, and the question arises, Who was it ?

This question in a race is usually a very important one, because the yacht that gets around first gains a very great advantage over her competitor, in that it is necessary for the other boat to pass her in order to beat her home. Passing a boat on a reach is an exceptionally difficult matter, if the boats are equally fast. To windward it is also difficult, as the first boat around can cover the other one. Before the wind, however, the second boat around the mark can cover the first, if she is close enough to take her wind.

When two boats are coming to a mark for the purpose of rounding, on different tacks, the boat having the right-of-way on the star-board tack should make it as bad for the other as possible, forcing him to tack, thus carrying him past the mark, if he tacks under his bow, or else forcing him to go under his stern.

If the boats are approaching a mark both on the starboard tack, the windward boat should be careful to sail on that tack far enough so as to be sure to easily bring the mark on the next tack, and stay close enough to the leeward boat so that she cannot tack to port and go under your stern with her wind clear.

When two boats are coming to a mark, sailing before the wind with spinnaker set, then the stern boat should so figure as not to pass the first one too soon, and so lose the advantage of being the inside boat on the turn, but should hold back until the right moment and then forge ahead and abreast of the other, on the inside, thereby cutting in on the mark and being the weather boat after the turn, with the other one to leeward and behind. Be sure to get the spinnaker off in time to have things snug when you round, especially if it is blowing hard, so that the crew can attend to the boat to windward, and get her going properly, without delay.

When two boats are reaching for a mark, and the stern boat has an overlap of, say the bowsprit, the first boat has to give her room around the mark. Do not give more room than is necessary while you round slightly in the lead and to leeward, squeezing your boat as high as possible in order to backwind the one to windward and astern of you. This can very often be done and the stern boat will be forced to tack away from you.

When you are approaching or rounding a mark, carefully figure out what certain moves will result in when once around.

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