Port Approach Caution
If you are approaching the windward mark on port tack and see an opponent setting up and waiting on starboard tack at the two length zone, be aware. If you tack underneath a starboard tack boat within the two length zone, you must not cause the starboard boat to sail above her close hauled course. With this in mind, it is possible to tack beneath the starboard boat and legally pass the mark, if starboard has set up above her layline to the mark, and would not have to said above close hauled course because of your tack. See figure 15 for demonstration of a legal port tack approach because the starboard tack boat had set up too high, above her layline.
If the starboard boat has properly set up on the layline, just inside the two length zone, the best move is to position yourself to stall the opponent behind you… make sure it is not your team mate that you pin like at the ODU regatta described earlier. If the opponent approaches on starboard also, plan on lee-bowing her at three or more lengths out, so that you may luff her as the opponent ahead hoped to do to you as in figure 14.
As the more advanced team approaches the first mark, the following tactics should be going through their minds: speed passback to break ties, balance pairs so that teammates round ahead of both opponents to leeward, potential to pin boats beyond layline, luffing on an opponent to bring up a team-mate, and finally waiting at the two boat length zone to make the passback.
A team should fleet race for most of the first beat and then assess the situation prior to the weather mark so that tactical moves can be made to consolidate gains made by being ahead and assure solid combinations while passing marks. After all, it is much safer to have and maintain a winning combination than to try to work toward victory from a losing combination. The first beat: Go fast off the line, then look around as you approach the windward mark.