Team Racing 101: Part 2, By George Yeoman
The first thing to do once you are going to work up the first beat is assess who your pair is, this is usually the person who is your starting rival, but if one of your team mates has better control of them (i.e is able to hold them on starboard so they can't tack) then you may choose another boat. The key thing to remember is if you are up in 2 pairs then you are in control of the race.
Going upwind there are 2 main blocking "moves". The first is using Rule 10 - Starboard boat has right of way. This can force the opposition to tack away from the mark or your teammate, or to sail behind you. NB. if they sail behind you, when you come together again they will likely be coming in on starboard so choose carefully when letting boats duck you. The second is Rule 13 - a boat tacking must keep clear, this is a bit more dangerous as to stop them tacking you will need to be in the windward boat position close enough that they can't tack but not so close that you will break Rule 11 - Leeward boat has right of way. You can use these to block the opposition from where they want to go and control them in to the top mark.
Things to watch out for:
1) if there are 2 boats overlapped on port ducking a starboard tacker, the leeward boat must give room for the windward boat to duck too or will be penalised.
2) if, in the same situation the leeward boat decides they want to tack to keep clear then they must call for room and the windward boat must respond. As a rule of thumb the leeward boat can decide which side to go, but must give the windward boat room to do the same.
3) if you are tacking in front of someone, and they gain an overlap to leeward on the new tack before you have completed your tack they will have luffing rights and may start to luff before you have completed your tack, so you may need to abort your tack.
The key here is to own the starboard lay line, as you are going round the mark to starboard. This is a great opportunity to let your team mates go around in front of you whilst picking off opposition who come in on port. Equally when you get to the mark be careful you aren't tacking in front of someone, remember Rule 13.
Room at the marks in team racing is a bit different, they go back to 2 boat length rather than 3, although it is worth checking the SIs for any changes. If you find yourself coming in on the port layline it can be worth overstanding the mark, this will give you some additional space to work with if a starboard tacker comes after you, and may even encourage them to take inside you at the mark allowing you to continue round the course.Top reach
This is a bit early in the race to be trying anything big in my opinion, but some teams like it. With a downwind coming up you want to get as much separation between you and the chasing boats (if you are in front) to make sure you have clear air down the run. However it presents a good opportunity to break the fleet up and allow your teammates to escape down the run.
Where this is the most key is when you have either a 1-2 and want to allow them to sail away, you know that 2 of your boats will be able to look after each other even if 1 opposition gets past so you may look to slow up the remaining boats so they cannot help. Or, when you have a 1-4-5. In this situation the boat in 5th should try to create what we call a "5-6 gap". This is where you employ the 1st not last scenario, 5th's only job is to stay ahead of 6th and keep them as far back out the race as possible, equally this means 1st has to keep 1st! We probably have the best boat in the country at the moment in controlling that position in Tim & Holly, often keeping their pair a leg behind the rest of the race allowing us and Sam & Toby to keep pushing the race round the course. This way if you get a penalty in 4th you have enough space and time to complete it and keep 4th.
At mark 2 it is tough to get a hold of anyone as you don't want them to be able to cover you down the run so I would suggest only using the mark when you want to gap the race.
Coming up in part 3: attacking and defending downwind, leeward mark rules and bottom reach mayhem!
If you missed part 1, you can find it here.