3. The gate: A leeward mark, and especially a leeward gate, can create one sizeable slow zone. As boats compress, a long, wide wind shadow results. Usually, your fleet will cluster into groups and/or mostly occupy one side of the run. When this is the case, the other side of the course has much clearer wind and water. One gate will send you into a bunch of spinnakers and choppy water, while the other will send you into an undisturbed open space. Usually, it pays to head into the open space and then either continue or tack once the downwind traffic has cleared away. You don't always have to round the upwind gate or the one that sends you the way you want to go. It regularly pays to take the path of least resistance and clear air, and then head in the direction you think is favored.