4 Steps to The Leeward-Mark Tack

A rounding tack at the leeward mark can put you in control. The key is to anticipate the need and tack first.

Step 1Stuart Streuli

1. As he approaches the leeward mark, Lindberg intentionally slows in order to exit the mark in the high lane—a textbook wide-then-tight rounding. Presti, meanwhile, knowing he wants to tack around the mark, doesn't worry about having his bow below the transom of Lindberg. Presti's crew drops the spinnaker early enough so that everyone is in their positions and able to trim the sails during the rounding. Presti and his team enter the rounding with a powerful set up: the genoa is eased, the main is coming in early to help turn the boat, and they trim the sails for maximum speed as they round. Keeping the main slightly over trimmed in respect to the boat's angle, and keeping the genoa slightly under trimmed, helps the boat turn without too much rudder movement, which will slow the boat.

Step 2© Stuart Streuli

2. Here, Presti has the boat only a few degrees below a close-hauled course, yet his genoa is still a bit eased. This sail-trim mode continues to help turn the boat into the tack and Presti doesn't slow the rate of turn. If he were going for a wide-then-tight style rounding, he'd appear to be a long way from the mark, but remember, the goal here is to tack, not to stay on Lindberg's windward hip. He anticipates Lindberg will cover, and immediately match, his tack. The desired outcome is to have his bow forward after both boats tack, or to discourage Lindberg from tacking into an compromised position, giving Presti the opportunity to split and, in this case, get to the favored right-hand side of the course.

Step 3© Stuart Streuli

3. Rolling into the tack with speed is the key. The apex turn keeps the boat at full speed through the turn. Lindberg burned some speed in order to stay high, which in turn, opened the door for Presti to lead into a tack. Lindberg matches the tack here, but is now a few seconds behind Presti's turn. Even if they were matched in speed going into their respective tacks, Presti's initial speed build after the tack will be a few seconds ahead of Lindberg's because Presti completes the tack first. Advantage: Presti.

Step 4© Stuart Streuli

4. Mission accomplished for Presti. He's headed to the right side of the course and is building speed while Lindberg is finishing trimming the sails after the tack. If the wind shifts right, or gets lighter, Lindberg will have a hard time living on Presti's windward hip. Presti now controls the right side, and will most likely have starboard-tack advantage should they meet further up the beat.