Perhaps the best place to begin evaluating the Team Race would be at the end, the final beat. No matter how hard you work on the previous reaches and upwind, it is worth nothing if your opponents convert their combination to a winner on the last leg of the course. This, of course, doesn’t mean that no efforts should be made prior to the final beat. It does mean that the race isn’t over until it really is over! That is what makes Team Racing such a great spectator sport. In one race between Old Dominion University and the Naval Academy in the Collegiate Team Racing Championship in Chicago in 1989 winning combinations shifted between the two teams five times in the final beat. It was so close that the winning combination conversion was clinched just a few boat lengths before the finish line, Navy triumphing victorious. Now that’s exciting to watch!
Within the final beat, the solid combinations are especially valuable. A team that is losing with a 1/5/6 must get ahead of their opponents. This can be accomplished by one teammate fooling an opponent into a tacking duel. As the opponent wastes speed by tacking several times, another teammate goes fast and moves ahead of that opponent dueling with the teammate. Now the teammate who is ahead can sandwich the opponent between herself and her other teammate. The sandwich is an effort to passback the opponent in the middle. In doing this, both teammates move ahead of the opponent. Team mates in fourth and sixth could perform a passback on fifth in trying to accomplish a 4/5 in a 1/4/5 combination. Just like any other leg of the course, a team’s efforts on the final beat should be coordinated toward achieving one of the three solid combinations, 1/2/X, 2/3/4, or the 1/4/5. By working toward one of these combinations, as discussed earlier, a team has the guidelines for each team member to perform certain tasks to achieve whichever of the solid combinations is most feasible to execute. The best way to understand guidelines for execution of the successful final beat is to describe scenarios and actions of each team member within their particular position of a given combination.