Passing the Leeward Mark 1/4/6
Offense 1/4/6 —> 1/4/5
The goal here is to achieve a 1/4/5, a solid winning combination. The obvious tactic to achieve this would be to have fourth and sixth pass back opponent fifth, giving them the solid combination. With a 1/4/6 combination, first must do the right stuff; she must go fast and sail lifted tacks. First must make sure that she does not get caught in a tacking duel sucking her into the ‘Fool’s Game’ and bringing third ahead to make a passback giving the opponents a 1/2/X, a solid winning combination. The respective jobs are for first to win the race and fourth and sixth to execute the passback and then keep at least one opponent behind them so that they may maintain the 1/4/5 and cross the finish line with a solid winner, 1/4/5.
Of the three solid combinations, the 1/4/5 can become quite volatile against a knowledgeable, skillful team. Let’s say you’re sailing in West Kirby, England in the World Team Racing Championship. Your team has a 1/4/5 going upwind on the last upwind leg of the course to the finish. You’re in first place and you realize the Brits in second and third are dropping on your fourth and fifth place team mates. Before you can say, “the British are coming”, the British are coming, and they’re luffing madly on your teammates in fourth and fifth. Next thing you know, the Brits have slowed your teammates enough to bring up their team mate so that they now have a solid 2/3/4, and you are confused as to what to do next with your 1/5/6 loser.
The answer is to see the situation setting up and take affirmative action before they accomplish the 2/3/4. When you have a 1/4/5, your biggest concern should be the other team attempting the 2/3/4, as described earlier. Therefore, when you are in first and see the opponents in second and third dropping on your teammates in fourth and fifth, you must act quickly and drop on one of the two opponents who have dropped on to your teammates. The goal is to effect a passback with your chosen teammate as quickly as possible. The difficult question is which of your opponents who are covering teammates should you drop on to make your pass back. Your choice should come from this;
1/4/5 Hierarchy Of Decision Making
(1) Your FIRST CHOICE would be to go to the closer pair. If one pair is more upwind than the other, you will be able to accomplish your passback and still maintain your first place position.
(2) Your SECOND CHOICE would be to go to the pair where you will most easily accomplish the passback. Let’s say that both pairs are equally upwind, balanced by the opponents. Yet, in one pair, your teammate is almost bows out and in great position to pinch off the windward attacker, and with your help, accomplish the passback, and not waste valuable time. The goal is to passback the opponent as quickly as possible so that you don’t fall behind the other pair and lose your first place position. Regardless, if you did spend too much time passing back the opponent and fell behind the other pair, then it would be time to work for the 2/3/4. This would require that you make the passback anyway to become the 3/4 component with your teammate in the other pair assuming second place.
(3) The THIRD CHOICE would be made when both pairs are equally upwind with no advantage point with either pair. In this case, you must go to the group that has more boats. There might be a pair of opponent and team mate on one side of the course and another group with your team mate sandwiched between two opponents on the other side of the course. Here, your decision is to go where there are more boats. Providing you and your team mate can get out of the four boat passback ahead of the opponents, your team will have a 2/3/4 with the other team mate from the pair that is now ahead. With the 2/3/4 achieved, the power triangle can be formed and the opponents in fifth and sixth can be balanced back so that they do not get ahead of any of your team mates.
Maintaining 1/4/5 -The 4/5 Gap
There is a security move that a team may use to ensure preservation of the 1/4/5 up the final beat. The counter to the 1/4/5 is the attempt by the opponents to achieve 2/3/4. If the opponents are smart, they will be seeking the 2/3/4 immediately after passing the leeward mark. It may be difficult to fend off their efforts if their second and third quickly drop on your fourth and fifth. The security move is effective by placing a gap between team mates in fourth and fifth places. If it is possible, it is best to achieve the 1/4/5 early (on the reaches) and then have fifth slow the opponent, sixth, while fourth and all the others sail on and pass the leeward mark. This creates a gap between team mates in fourth and fifth. With a ‘4/5 Gap ‘ effected, as shown in figure 10 situation I , second and third will pass the leeward mark, assess their situation, a losing combination. If they are smart, they will realize their best bet is to try for the 2/3/4. This of course would mean that second and third would drop on fourth and fifth, figure 10 situation II. If second drops on fourth, who has passed the mark somewhat nearby, third must fall significantly back to try to pass back fifth. By doing this, the two pairs, second with fourth and third with fifth and sixth, become unbalanced by the effective ‘4/5 Gap’ created on the previous leg. This means that second who has dropped on fourth is significantly upwind of third who has dropped back to sit on fifth. That is when the fruits of the ‘4/5 Gap’ may be reaped. First quickly decides on FIRST CHOICE described in the hierarchy above and drops on second and passes her back with fourth who is now effectively in third, figure 10 situation III. Since third is far back and attempting to make her passback, first has plenty of time to pass back second. The resulting 1/3 passback with first and the old fourth now produces a 1/2/X combination.
The ‘4/5 Gap’ executed on the previous leg of the course was the direct contribution to setting up the ideal scenario where first may drop to a convenient 1/3 passback situation. Thus, the solid 1/4/5 is understood to be not so solid against a smart team, unless the ‘4/5’ Gap can be implemented, ensuring a 1/2/X later if the opponents chose to try to go for the 2/3/4. If the opponents don’t choose to go for the 2/3/4, fourth and fifth need to stay ahead of sixth up the final beat and across the finish line.
Defense 2/3/5 —> 2/3/4
The defense against a 1/4/6 trying to convert to a 1/4/5 would be for a team with 2/3/5 to convert to a 2/3/4 as described in the previous section which discusses converting a 2/3/6 to a 2/3/4. The concept and action required is the same. A ‘4/5 Gap’ would make it more difficult. With a ‘4/5 Gap’ accomplished, second and third would have to balance themselves as they drop on opponents in fourth and fifth. This would make it more difficult for first to decide who to drop on from the hierarchy of decisions.