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Windward mark rounding

What you need to know


Avoid crowds

Don't hit the mark

Know your rules

Arrive into the zone on starboard


The details

At the windward mark, there are slight opportunities to gain places but big opportunities to loose out. In the extreme you could arrive at the first mark second coming in on port but you can’t find a gap in the queue of starboard boats coming into the mark. You have to pass behind all the starboard boats trailing in one after the other and you could round last.

So the golden rule preparing for the windward mark is to approach on starboard having tacked at least 6 boat lengths away from the mark so there is no question you have tacked outside the zone.

If there is a spreader mark, give yourself a bit of room to windward to avoid any disturbed air and ensure you can sail a best speed to the spreader mark. If you watch some of the windward mark rounding at the World in Brazil you can see many examples of gains and losses. There are a couple of links at the bottom of this article and all the championship videos are HERE

On your approach try and avoid clusters of boats. They will always slow you down restricting movement and even forcing you away from the mark. At worst, you might be involved in an incident and have to do a penalty turn


It goes without saying to avoid hitting the mark or its spreader causing a penalty turn. Give yourself a bit of extra room.


Know your rules at the mark

Here are a key rules

  1. The mark zone is 4 boat lengths

  2. R18 Any boat that tacks in mark zone has virtually no rights

  3. If you tack in the zone and the starboard boat behind has to luff to avoid you, you incur a penalty. You have no rights for mark room.

  4. If two boats tack at same time in zone, the one on the others port side has to keep clear and a new overlap is established once the tacks are completed

  5. If you hit the mark because you are infringed you are exonerated and do not have to do a turn


Video examples

When it goes wrong

Actions at the spreader mark

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