How to play the odds.
When to take a risk to make a large gain.
And when to play it safe to avoid making a huge loss.
I'm not usually very good at this aspect of the game. I think I'm usually too conservative on the race course and don't take risks when I should. One aspect of my game that I think I usually play too safe is the windward mark rounding. My usual modus operandi is to approach the starboard tack layline six to ten lengths from the mark, find a gap in the parade of boats on the lay line, sail through it and tack. I hardly ever come on in port on the layine or within three boat lengths of the mark, and hardly ever try to tack below starboard tackers and risk not laying the mark.
But on Sunday it was different.
I was racing with the Duxbury Laser fleet again and the winds were forecast to be 15 gusting 25 but I don't think it ever actually was that strong.
I was still suffering from some lower back pain from the previous Sunday so I determined that I would race for an hour or so and then call it a day. Didn't want to overdo it.
As a result I didn't care too much about the results, so I had a mindset that I was prepared to take some risks. Roll the dice and see what happened.
The boat end of the start line was favored and I knew some of the sailors in this fleet would be fighting each other for the position next to the boat. I chose to play it safe at the starts and get a position a little further down the line with room to accelerate that was away from the mayhem at the RC boat.
As a result I was usually on the left of the leaders going up the beat. Sometimes sailing a bit faster than them (mantra: bow down) but not fast enough that I could tack and safely cross them all until they tacked. On the shortish course that often meant I was close to the port tack lay line before I could tack.
Normally this would be where I would start to panic and start looking for gaps in the starboard tack parade and bearing off to find such a gap and giving up way too many boats in the process of trying to make a safe windward mark rounding.
But on Sunday it was different. Some times I came in the port tack layline and managed to tack cleanly in front of the approaching starboard tackers. Some times I was further away from the port tack lay line and I chanced it tacking under a starboard tacker. Risks I would never normally take. It worked out every time and I rounded the mark in the lead, or in the leading pack every time.
Hey. Maybe I should try this more often?
I had good speed upwind and downwind. My leeward mark roundings weren't too shabby either. After four races my scores were 1,2,1,1.
In line with my plan of only sailing for an hour or so, I decided to call it a day. Some wag later asked me if I had got tired of winning.
Not at all. But I chose not to risk hurting my back again by sailing for too long.
It's all about managing risk.