The Game Plan
Effective Team Racing demands an organized, goal oriented approach… A game plan from which all decisions will be made that may arise on the race course. The team that has a plan and can execute it on the water will consistently perform better than the team that always finds itself in tactical predicaments.
The key to success is knowing what your current combination is and what moves should be taken to change an opportune situation into a winning combination. This means that all team members must know their current combination and accordingly, know the corresponding moves to position themselves to attack and achieve the desired winning combination. A knowledgeable and practiced team will have a game plan, manipulate their competitors, and take advantage of opportunities as they arise to control the race.
Typically, a good game plan will consist of a pre-race/start objective; a first beat goal; specific moves for the reaches to strengthen a winning combination or convert a losing combination, and finally a team effort to consolidate gains up the final beat to cross the finish line in a solid winning combination. Without a solid combination passing the final mark, the final beat may see many changes of combinations until the finish. Team effort to accomplish one of the solid combinations on the final beat is crucial. To better understand a race segmented game plan, consider the following strategy for TEAM NO WORRIES:
The goal of the pre-race/start is to have a better position on the line than one’s opponents. Just like fleet racing; the objective is to get a good start! After the start, everyone must go as fast as they can; sail fast and go the right way. The goal of the first beat for each boat is to try to be first at the weather mark. Team No Worries will think about that Team Racing stuff after the first beat. The reaches will be the time to consolidate any gains made on the first beat. If there’s a 1/3 combo, they’ll concentrate on trying to squeeze out the opponent in second place so that they have a solid 1/2. The final beat is the time to maintain a winning combo. If they’re in a losing combo, they’ll aggressively attack, execute passbacks, or fool the opponents into slowing themselves down with a tacking duel. By slowing one opponent, another teammate can get ahead, setting up the passback which will consolidate gains into a winning combination. All efforts throughout the race may be foiled or rewarded by the combination achieved when the finish line is crossed… and the race is over.
No game plan is effective unless all teammates know the plan and understand how it is accomplished on the water. Having a game plan gives direction to all team members at all times. To ensure all teammates see the same scenario and are working toward the same combination, communication is critical. For instance, a team captain might yell out a particular combination as teammates near the leeward mark to remind them of what their appropriate action should be approaching the mark. Communication is the vital link in maintaining a concerted team effort to obtain a winning combination.