Sailing conservatively may sound boring but it has a big effect on your race results. I find strategical positioning on the beat fascinating. It’s like chess on the water.
Sailing conservatively requires positioning your boat so as to reduce leverage. Leverage is the distance between you and the centre of the fleet. If you bang a corner up the beat then you have created maximum leverage.
Leverage increases your potential reward but also increases your risk. Only split from the fleet if you have a good reason to. Otherwise, stick close and let others make the mistakes. Like tennis, sailing strategy is a game of unforced errors.
You should take any opportunity you get to reduce leverage/ tack back to the centerline of the course.
Reduce leverage when:
- You are uncertain over which tack is favoured
- There is no wind shift currently (the wind direction is at it’s mean)
- It’s the last shift of the leg
If you get to the laylines too early you can’t take advantage of any future wind shifts. A lift is pointless as you can already lay the mark and if you get headed then boats to leeward of you will now be further upwind.
Check out the video above to see how my strategy changes the closer I get to the laylines.
Also of interest: 9 Top Tips For Wind Shift Strategy
Also of interest: 7 Ways to Predict Wind Shifts
Also of interest: Reading the Wind on the Water when Sailing