Starting Strategy and Tricks
A Team Race start can be thought of as three match race starts with the option of teammates helping each other out if necessary. With the comparison to three match race starts, the goal of the Team Race start is for all three team-mates, in three different pairs of dog fights, to start better than their opponents when the starting signal sounds. For any of the pairs, the objective for each teammate is to keep yourself between the starting line and the opponent. That way, when the gun sounds, you are assured to be ahead of your opponent.
The interesting thing about a Team Race start is that the match race components make it impossible for an intimidated team to adhere to any pre-determined plan or start strategy they may have had. For this reason, the Team Race start can be used as a form of intimidation. By seizing the initiative and dog-fighting the opponents, it is immediately understood that you and your team are taking charge of that race. If one team is known for having one especially fast member, an opposing team’s start strategy may involve pinning that fast opponent outside the start line, assuring her to start last and be behind from the start.
Now that you and your team have asserted that you are in control, you should all expect to get good starts, with opponents starting behind each of you, as shown in figure 18 situation A. Equally important, preparation should be made for understanding where each of you will start. For example, Keith will take the pin, Per will start in the middle, and Jay will take the committee boat end. If the boat end of the line is favored, all three should expect to condense and start closer to the boat, as shown in figure 18 situation B. Pre-start strategy should include where each teammate will start and who will dog-fight whom should be determined before the engage whistle is blown.
Finally, there are a few tricks with starting a Team Race. Although I do not advocate using the start to draw 360’s from the other team, some competitors do not agree and will take any opportunity to do so. When you are circling in a dog-fight with an opponent, always keep an eye out for another opponent coming in on starboard tack. If the opponent times it well, she will sneak up on starboard tack when you least expect it, while you are on port tack with little or no time to get out of the way.
Another trick often utilized at the start is the ‘Pin Release’. Imagine yourself being tailed and pinned outside the start as in figure 19. The precious seconds are ticking away and you don’t think there is enough time to pinch the opponent off or go downwind and jibe to starboard. Stop your boat and call for help from your buddy! In comes team mate Colin to the rescue. He simply comes in and snuggles in to leeward of your tailing opponent. You simply bear away, jibe, and return to the start line. The tailer is now pinned by Colin and cannot bear away to follow you. Now, Colin may control the former tailer. Thanks Colin!