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Using Current to your Advantage

using current to your advantageHave you ever been sailing in a steady breeze with no shifts and realized that a competitor with equal speed, sailing on the other side of the course, has made big gains on you?
The answer could be that they were sailing in less adverse current than you.

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Determining Where to Start

determining where to startMany people agree: it's a lot easier to do well in a race if you get out ahead early, rather than trying to work your way though the fleet to the top. The easiest way to do this is to get a great start. Knowing how to get a great start depends on several factors: being at the favored end, on the line, in clear air and moving quickly, and having the ability to execute your upwind strategy.

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Upwind Tactics

upwind tacticsAre you looking to improve your upwind sailing tactics? Below are several ideas to help you master the upwind legs.  First, you have to know what the wind is doing. Is it oscillating back and forth, or is it in the midst of a persistent shift?

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Windward Mark Roundings

windward mark roundingHere are a few tips for helping you tactically at the windward mark. First, never come in on the port-tack layline. Why not? Several reasons - you may not be able to get around the mark with a wall of starboard-tack boats going around it, you'll be heavily blanketed by boats that are going downwind already, and you won't have much time to set up for a good mark rounding and spinnaker hoist.

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Downwind Tactics

downwind tacticsDownwind tactics are similar to many upwind tactics, but they are reversed. For example, when sailing upwind, you want to sail on the lifted tack because it will get you to the mark faster. However, when sailing downwind, you want to sail on the headed tack because it will get you there faster.

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Leeward Mark Roundings

leeward mark roundingsYour first step when approaching the leeward mark is to know what your plan is for the next leg. Has the breeze oscillated to the right, so when you get around you'll want to tack to port? Are you heading for the finish, or do you have to go to the windward mark again?

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Finish Tactics

finish tacticsThere are two key techniques to finishing. First, know which end of the line is favored (in other words, which end is the farthest downwind and closest to you). At the start, you wanted the end of the line that was closest to the weather mark, but now you want the end that's closest to the leeward mark so you don't sail any extra distance.

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Loose & Tight Covers

loose & tight coversWhen you're out ahead, you want to make sure you stay in front. The only way to be completely sure that this happens is to cover your opponent or opponents. There are two types of covers; the "loose" cover and the "tight" cover.

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