Harken Derm

Play the Shifts Downwind

Published on December 14th, 2018

by Allan Haeger, SailZing
Playing the shifts downwind is one part of your downwind strategy, along with sailing in more breeze and sailing in clear air. Many sailors are less vigilant about shifts downwind, because there are fewer of them and they’re harder to detect. In this post, we’ll check your understanding about the impact of shifts and how to use them.

“In winds up to 10 knots, the impact of shifts downwind is enormous,” notes Bill Gladstone of North U. “A boat working the shifts will gain 10% versus a boat that ignores the shifts.”

SailZing reviewed dozens of sources for insights about playing shifts downwind. North U’s Performance Racing Tactics, Chapter 10, gives the most thorough explanations. Stuart Walker’s Advanced Racing Tactics and several other sources help put the role of shifts in perspective.

Several quizzes and diagrams will check your understanding… click here.

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