Mark roundings

“Ye canna change the laws of physics, Captain”. The same principle applies to mark roundings as to Scotty’s famous ‘Star Trek’ remark.

Leeward mark

Opportunities to make a nice gain, opportunities to throw all that hard work away…

In the diagram below, too close alongside the mark, Brown is set up all wrong, so will have to use too much rudder in the turn, slowing the boat dramatically. Momentum will also throw the boat to leeward and in the inevitable panic the sails will just get pulled in as quickly as possible, so will be either over or under-sheeted all through the turn. You can be fairly sure that resetting the rig controls for the beat has been forgotten too. Hopefully, the plate is actually down, but it ain’t necessarily so. Once hardened up onto the breeze, a look over the shoulder will show the skipper they are at least one or perhaps three boat lengths to leeward of the mark. Oh dear. You do not want to do it like that.

By contrast, the yellow boat sets up nicely wide of the mark, a point they have perhaps been aiming at for some time, having recognised they were never going to get an overlap. With lots of room, they can go for a smooth turn, using much less (braking-effect) rudder. The sails come in smoothly, being set perfectly to the wind throughout the turn. With far less stress in the boat, the control lines will are likely to be adjusted in a timely fashion too. The only danger is actually catching chaotic Brown before the mark, so getting trapped on the outside of them and forced miles wide – so they watch like hawks for further muppetry and ease the main to slow up a bit if necessary and cement the inside track. Immediately after rounding, Yellow will be to weather of their rivals. A few lengths later, having accelerated through the turn rather than slowed, they are likely to be ahead too.

So guess which boat is Toast and which is Butter, smooth, slippery and soon all over them? Tasty.

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