1st windward leg
What you need to know
Execute your plan
What to look out for
Plan for mark rounding well ahead of approach
What calls can you make
Execute your plan. Well, that assumes you have one. So what do you consider to go in your plan? We discussed this in the section "Sailing before the start" HERE
Try to get a view of the course from different angles and test your observations when sailing your boat before the start and watching other boats.
Find out which side of the windward leg is favourable, either by observation from the shore or when you get out sailing.
Does the wind look stronger on one side or the other.
Are there any obstructions (trees, buildings, large boats), that may affect the wind across the course.
How do the gusts come down the course, do they favour one side or the other, does the wind shift significantly in them and which tack is favourable coming into the gust.
Is there a significant shore line which may cause the wind to bend.
If you can, work with another boat to test the wind by sailing up opposite sides of the beat.
However you do it, set a plan and follow it until conditions change and evidence strongly suggest a different course of action. Keep to the middle of the course unless there is an obvious reason to be elsewhere and watch the locals to see where they go.
You goals on the first beat
Avoid crowds and getting boxed in
Benefit from any wind bends
Keep looking up course for shifts
Avoid no wind zones caused by obstructions
When trying to get to the favoured side of the course, sacrifice 1 or 2 boats by ducking rather than tacking and potentially getting dragged to the wrong side of the course.
Plan well ahead for windward mark approach. If you are near the front, you have some flexibility on your approach and maybe, you can execute a last minute port tack approach if that is favoured, however if you are in a crowd then make sure you line up on starboard early, at least outside the 4 boat zone so you can sail round in in clear air with speed. Make sure you know which side of the run you want and position your boat accordingly.
Making hails on the course
At this point it is worth mentioning some of the hails you are allowed to make at the start and sailing round the course.
The rules state some allowable calls listed below
By a Competitor
“24 Room to Tack” at an obstruction or for right of way boat - optional reply you tack
Calling a protest - 24 protests 15
Boat 33 out of control (and therefore becomes an obstruction)
No room - to tack inside at windward mark
By the Committee
Code U flag recall
Black flag recall
Hail by observer e.g.
59 hit the mark.
Contact between 45 and 67
Anything else is just confusing. It is futile to enter an argument when all your competitors and onlookers are listening. They won’t thank you for it.