The original inventor of the backwards tack was a Finnish Europe Sailor called Jyurki Taiminnen. He defied his coaches by sticking with this strange option to tack backwards despite having a centre main because he knew he could achieve a few things that a forward tack could not. These were:
- Keep his centre of gravity further forward which prevents the boat from slowing as you head up to head to wind.
- Be able with ease to take the tiller extension round the back which avoided overuse of the rudder
- Keep an eye on the water that can creep into the transom of a Europe if you over heel
- Come out of the tack with your hands in control of both extension and sheet - no steering around your back.
- I can see him winking now as he would say "to keep an eye on his only competition. ;)"
I remember thinking that I was a pretty good Europe sailor who had put hours and hours into my techniques only to watch one of his tacks from the shore on a practice day before the Europe World Championships in Norway. I felt instantly beaten by the smoothness of his tack. It was truly awesome. I was committed to learning this technique before the next World Championships.
Since those days in the Europe class, I have applied this technique successfully in the RS300 and later in the RS Aero.
The main features to enable it to work are:
- The ratchet block or take-off has to be close to the floor of the boat. This is because your leading leg has to step over the mainsheet in your forward hand. You have to place the sheet on the floor and then jump over it.
- There should be no aft bridle or traveller horse to prevent the extension from going around the back. You need the room to take the extension round the back as there is little room for it facing forward whilst you are bending aft at the same time.