The more extreme the wind or shifts are, the greater precedence you should give them. For example, if the left side of the course has much more wind than the right side, it’s OK to sail a header to the stronger wind, and then sail the long tack toward the mark. The speed you’ll get from the increased wind will make up for briefly sailing away from the mark. If the shifts are big, or the course is such that one tack is obviously much longer than the other, make sailing toward the mark your top priority. In an ideal world, you should sail in the most wind and sail toward the mark. If you can make that happen, and you often can, life is good. When the windshifts are small, and the wind is consistent across the course, it’s more difficult figuring out where to go. In these races, getting a good start, minimizing maneuvers, and sailing fast is usually the best game plan.