Monday, February 26, 2007


So there you are screaming down the run in Tacticat trying to keep out of the way of the Tactifools gybing and capsizing and steering all sorts of unpredictable courses and before you know what's happening the leeward gate is coming up fast and there are crowds of boats stopped, crashed, tacking, gybing, swirling around each mark like a swarm of bees and you have to make a decision about which side of the gate to round in about three milliseconds and........ disaster strikes.

And even though all the other advice you have read here about Tacticat sailing hasn't helped you one iota you are back here again for some help on how to deal with the leeward gate? Never learn, do you?

As with my last post on Downwind in Tacticat let me adopt my modest posture and confess that there is probably a lot more I don't know about gate rounding than I do know. So if you are a Tactichampion then please feel free to abuse me in the comments and to improve or correct my advice. But here's a few things I try and remember to do as I approach the bottom of the run...

First thing is to decide which gate you are going to round. Seems to me that there are two strategic factors -- and one tactical issue -- to consider...

Which side of the course has stronger wind? Other things being equal round the gate mark on that side and start heading to the pressure. Sure you could round the other mark and then tack but the problems with that strategy are
  • you have further to sail to the stronger wind,

  • you have to cross through the mayhem of boats still on the run. (Remember there's a reason all those idiots are behind even you.)

Which side of the gate is further upwind? Check the wind direction using the indicator in the top left-hand corner of the screen. Obviously if you round the upwind side of the gate it is as good as starting a race at the favored end of the line. You are already ahead of all the Tactichumps rounding the other mark.

So make your mind up well before you approach the gate and position yourself to approach the desired mark, preferably on the inside of those 17 other boats that rounded the windward mark with you.

Then as you approach your preferred mark let's suppose that you notice that there is total chaos there. Boats jammed up in a raft six deep. Capsized boats. Usual Tacticrap. This is where quick thinking comes in. Do not under any circumstances plow right into the back of the raft of boats at the mark. Seems to me you have five choices...

  • Slow down and hope the mess clears quickly.

  • Aim for that tiny gap between the inside boat and the mark, get penalized for hitting both, and then spend the whole of the second beat complaining about how unfairly you were treated.

  • Take the long route around the slow boats going nowhere.

  • Change your mind and make a nice close rounding of the other mark and sail away in clear air with time to hit the M key and leave a sarcastic comment for the 23 other boats still stuck on the mark.

  • Pray.

Your choice.

And in case you think this has nothing to do with real world sailing then let's see what a real world real expert has to say about real gates. However, sometimes weird things happen at a real world gate that would never happen in Tacticat.

So what have I missed? Anything else to say about Tactigates?


aestela said...

Some tips for a good rounding:
- Use the arrows/rudder as less as possible.
- Don't worry about extra gybing, the total loss for all tacticat boats is less than one sec.
- Approach wide and exit close
- If its a cat you are sailing start making your plans when you pass the windward offset buoy.
- Be ready to ease your sails and jam the rudder to quick stop the boat and avoid hitting other boats.

All those can/should be applied in real sailing.

jsw225 said...

Like Aest said, it's better to be on the inside right next to the mark after rounding, then it is to be on the outside.

Do not rule out letting out your sails (in the two boat length circle) so as to briefly slow down and get the inside. Or to even slow down and then cut above a boat. The further away you are from the mark, the more distance you have to sail to get upwind.

I'd also like to stress about there being a favored leeward gate. I've made up a lot of spots just by going to the favored gate, even if it's not the favored side. But there is a problem. If you round the right gate, you can cross the fleet with minimal problems because you'll be on starboard crossing the dead center of the course. If you round the left gate, you have to be very careful because you can't easily cross the downwind fleet on port.

Tony said...

Never having joined the Tacticat fun, I'll just add my real world experience and hope it kind of applies.

As soon as there is a bit of breeze, most people seem to avoid the mark which requires a gybe to round, even if it's the favoured mark. Those with better boat handling (not me!) aren't scared of the gybe, and often get the favoured mark to themselves.

Tillerman said...

Good point Tony. Been there, done that.

I guess this is one of the ways in which Tacticat differs from the real world. Gybing in Tacticat is as easy as hitting the Enter key - with no risk of a capsize. Maybe aestela will introduce an element of "gybe fear factor" in future releases by adding in some probability of a capsize in heavy winds on every gybe?

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