Playbook: The Next Level

The upcoming McBride Racing Tactical Playbook will lay out the fundamentals of sailboat tactics and strategy, but once you've mastered the basics, taking your game to the next level requires you to go an extra step.  This play, LM 2.15 is part of an Olympian's playbook; rather than presenting an if, then situation, we're beginning to make some predictions about how the boats around us will respond to our moves.  To be a chess master in sailing, you need to think beyond the next move, and understand the fleet that you're racing against.  Here's the breakdown of LM 2.15:

The Play: Expanding on LM 2.1, let’s assume that Blue has the same idea as you; they recognize that the left gate looking downwind is favored, and execute LM 1.1 to defend the gate.  If they are executing a good play, they’ll get as close to Red (and thus, to lay line) as possible, before gybing, so by this time you’ve reached Position 2, and you’re ripping on a high angle towards Blue.  As soon as Blue goes for LM 1.1, the likelihood of you making it around in first drops dramatically, however, you still have a powerful advantage: speed.  To make the most of the situation, it is critical to convert the extra speed that you’ve built on the high angle, into depth, and separation from your competitor.  Your advantage at the mark rounding will come if you can soak below lay line to the gate mark, or get into a spot where you can maintain speed in the mark rounding better than Blue.  The more gage you create, the more you will be able to ramp your angle up in the final moments before rounding the mark, build the flow over your blades, and ultimately come out of the rounding in a slightly higher lane than Blue. 

Most Common Mistakes:  The big mistake here, is to try to heat up your angle even more after Blue has gybed.  In this scenario, it is relatively easy for Blue to avoid getting rolled, or giving away room at the mark, so heating it up, will likely only get you into the bad air of the boat ahead, sooner, while giving away all of your gage.

Pro Tip: In fast boats like the 49er FX, speed is a weapon, and gage is like a reserve of speed that can be used when needed.  Create gage when sailing VMG mode isn’t an option (for example, when VMG mode will take you into bad air), so that you can convert it to speed at the right time.

Best Communication: “If they hit us, we go soak mode,” “Create gage now so we can heat it at the mark”