My confusion relates to how to sail in those critical first hundred yards of sailing after the start of a race. Andrew Campbell at CampbellSailing.com is responsible for messing up my head with a post he wrote a few days ago titled After the Start.
Andrew first of all quotes Dave Dellenbaugh's advice...
After the start point high for two reasons:
1. So you will keep clear air to leeward,
2. So you will squeeze off the windward boats, gaining the option to tack.
After several minutes, a few boats will squeeze ahead of the pack like watermelon seeds. Your object is to be one of those boats.
Andrew then goes on to say that sometimes this is sound advice (after all you can't just blatantly tell Dellenbaugh he is wrong) but then goes on to argue why pinching may not be such a great idea. In summary his reasoning seems to be...
- If you want to go left then by pinching you are allowing the boats to leeward to gain lateral distance to the left side of the course and this may be all they need to gain enough to be able to beat you.
- If you want to go right then sure you can pinch off the boat to windward to make him tack, but that doesn't help you with all the boats to windward of him who may still be blocking you from getting across to the right.
In other words, get a great start and sail faster than your competitors. Hmmm. That may be fine if you're one of the two best Laser sailors in the nation like Campbell. But what if you're some average Joe who doesn't always execute perfect starts and is not faster than the other guys in the fleet? If you find yourself too close to the leeward boat after the start, or he is bow out on you, and he is gassing you with dirty air; or you just need to force one boat to windward of you to tack to allow you to sail across to the favored right side of the course... what then? Is it OK for average Joes to pinch?
What do you think? Are you a pincher? (You can answer even if your name isn't Joe.)