Laser sailors sail the long tack first.
Well, the smart ones do anyway. It's conventional racing advice, something to do with maximizing your chance of gains and minimizing your chance of losses based on probability theory, non-Euclidean geometry, and the collected wisdom of Stuart Walker, Paul Elvstrom and some guy who I met in a bar in Sydney. I never quite understood the logic but I guess it makes sense to keep the pointy end aiming more or less where you want to go (the windward mark) instead of further away from it.
The first day of BBR last weekend was very frustrating. I blew the first race due to sheer incompetence. See Plan. You stupid boy!
Then we hung around for a few hours as the wind died and shifted around pretty much all points of the compass. I did drop hints to the race committee from time to time that instead of drifting around aimlessly in Buzzards bay we could be ashore boosting the bar revenues of Beverly Yacht Club, or that maybe they could order us some pizza... but they wisely ignored me.
Eventually a lightish breeze settled in just west of south and they got the Vanguard 15s started. Just before our start the breeze went left by about 40 degrees and I confidently expected the start to be postponed... but I was wrong. The starting signal sounded, the whole fleet flopped on to port tack (we could barely lay the line on starboard) and we were off.
Hmmm. Well this was pretty clearly one of those "long tack" situations so I stayed on port. I guess the wind did square up a bit to the original direction but it still seemed to me that I was pointing closer to the mark on port tack. Plus it looked like more pressure ahead on the right while the boats on the left seemed to be in even worse air than us. And so it was that about ten of us (out of a fleet of nearly fifty) kept going and going and going to Cornersville.
Not long after we tacked on to starboard a tad below the layline a huge righty shift came in and we could reach in to the mark. Woo hoo, top ten at the first mark at BBR. The guys coming in from the left on a huge header didn't look like they were shouting, "Woo hoo!"
The wind eventually went so far right that the "run" was now a close reach. There seemed to be a lot of confusion down at the leeward gate. The Radials hadn't started yet and some were drifting around near the gate. There were some horns sounding. I couldn't see what flag was flying. Had the RC abandoned the race? It would not be surprising if they had.
But no. We were still racing and the RC was signalling a change of course to a new windward mark, roughly in the same direction as it was for the morning race. Somehow on the "run" and on the final beat I dropped a few places but I still finished comfortably in the top twenty, with what would turn out to be my best finish of the regatta.
If I had been a PHRF sailor I would probably have gone to Sailing Anarchy and written some long abusive post about the supposed sins of the Race Committee. But, thank god, I am not one of those mean, angry dudes. I am a laid-back easy-going Laser sailor. I assumed that our Race Committee felt that completing two races on a day when the winds weren't very cooperative was better for the sailors that only doing one race and blowing off the second one in a vain search for perfection. Thank you Race Committee. Good call.
Laser sailors, "Sail the long tack first!"