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Tactical Tips to Move up the Ladder

Published on June 9th, 2015

Terry Flynn is no stranger to J/22 Championship trophies, including the World Championship, North American Championship and Midwinter Championship. Here he shares some of his tactical guidelines…

Regardless of your sailing location or conditions, there are always a few things you can do to prepare for any race. Here are some tips that will help move you up the ladder:

1. Win your side of the fleet first, and everything should work out. Simply put—no matter how fluky the winds are, by the time you get to the windward mark, even the leader of the bad side will end up in a pretty good position. I am not saying one-tack the first beat, but while playing the shifts, be aware not to lose track of the boats on the same side of the course. You may need to tack on smaller headers to get back in touch with your competition, but in general that is better than sailing across the middle of the course.

2. When in doubt, stay with the group. This applies the most when sailing downwind. This has happened to all of us at one time or another: you have just rounded ahead of a pack of boats and want to work low. You get frustrated with the following group sailing high to keep their air clear. Tired of working up to protect your wind and giving away distance, you gybe away. Do you have a reason for this move? If you see a puff, great, this should work out fine. However, the percentages would favor heading up—keeping your wind clear and waiting for a real reason to gybe. Be prepared to give up distance, not boats.

3. Stay out of the middle of the course. This is an easy one. My crew calls the middle the “Cone of Death,” so that gives you an idea of how much they like it.

4. Concentrate on your job. On our boat, we have a good idea of everyone’s jobs and responsibilities. My first and most important job is to steer the boat. Yes, I have to trim the main and play the backstay, and sometimes the traveler, but driving takes priority over everything else. Don’t be shy about talking about who is supposed to do what.

Source: J/22 Class Newsletter

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