Tillerman's Tacticat Tip #3 is Stay out of Trouble.
What do I mean? Well, just go to Tacticat and enter a "field" where 20 or more boats are racing. Sit back and watch a couple of races. What will you see?
Even before the start, boats will be crashing into each other. Those boats with red dots on them are the ones that Tacticat decided were at fault in the collisions and they will be penalized by being forced to sail more slowly at the start.
Then there is that crowd of boats luffing at the right end of the line, hitting each other and the buoy. More boats trying to start at that end are smashing into the back of the boats at the buoy in a forlorn attempt to sail through them.
There goes the start signal. Off they go.
Now boats are trying to tack from port to starboard and fouling other boats. There's a boat on port trying to cross a starboard tacker and failing. There's a clump of three or four boats all stuck together and going nowhere.
Look, now the leaders are lined up on the starboard tack layline to the windward mark. Port tackers are trying to cross that line of starboard tack boats and fouling them.
Oops. Now a boat is stuck on the windward mark and other boats are piling into her.
There go the leaders off down the run. The best sailors are planing. Here come the six leading boats on a screaming reach approaching the gate, some on starboard, some on port. Ouch. I daren't look. Total mayhem.
You get the picture. Half the competitors (at least) are putting themselves out of contention through collisions with other boats, trying to sail through other boats, hitting marks, etc. etc.
So the best thing you can do when you want to do well in a Tacticat race is just... stay out of trouble. Watch out for starboard tackers. Look out for packs of boats stuck in a raft on a buoy ahead of you and sail round them. Even if you have the right of way you can't sail through or over other boats and you will lose distance. Stay sharp. Keep your eyes open. Sail safe.
Does this bear any relation to real sailboat racing? Sure. Just ask this young man.
Thomas Barrows took a first place finish in the recent Miami Olympic Classes Regatta but then disaster struck when an oncoming boat at full speed T-boned him and put a hole in the side of his Laser the size of a small water-melon. The photo shows the subsequent repair in progress. It's amazing what you can do with duct tape.
Update: I didn't know when I first wrote this post that the coach repairing the boat is Rulo from the Laser Training Center in Cabarete. Rulo is an amazing coach and was hired by five sailors to aid them at the OCR, including Thomas. With all due respect to duct tape one also needs the brains and imagination on how to apply it. Also, the details of how to get the Laser on to the RIB for the repair does not come with the duct tape roll instructions manual.
Thanks to Sailing Anarchy for the story and photo from the OCR.