One of the most frustrating feelings in Team Racing comes when you are pinned outside the starting line as the seconds count down to the starting signal. You panic and try anything. It doesn’t matter if it won’t help or you get further away from the line because of it. You are so frustrated that you try anything. Because you’ll try anything, you attempt some risky moves and end up fouling the opponent who has you pinned. A 360 turn penalty will make you start last. This situation can be avoided! In an aggressive Team Race start, you may be tailed on either port or starboard tack. There are certain moves that will help you escape that tailing opponent. Moves such as circling a buoy or scraping the opponent off on an awaiting team mate are both effective. Without a buoy or team mate to help consider the following match race adopted tactics to escape from being tailed:
Being Tailed On Starboard Tack
What if you are being tailed on starboard tack outside the starting line? If you continue to sail on starboard tack, you only get further from the line and continue to be controlled by the tailing opponent. Tacking won’t work because you would turn to port tack while the tailing opponent would still be on starboard. For the same reason, jibing won’t work either. The tailing opponent controls you and won’t let you jibe too close. Confusion and frustration only move you further away from the starting line. The answer is to try drawing the tailing opponent in close off your windward quarter. If you can get the opponent close on your windward quarter, you are in great position to luff her up and pinch her off. As you do this, she will only lose ground to windward and fall back so that you will be clear ahead of her. That is the time to tack on to port tack, race back to the line and get back in the race. Figure 16 illustrates this tactic. The main consideration when trying to pinch off an opponent is to make sure you can complete the tack without infringing the right of way rules.
The defense for the starboard tailing opponent would be to keep some distance off the tailee’s windward quarter, not so much as to lose control, but enough so that you will be able to move forward to gain ground to windward without being pinched off. Remember, if you can keep the tailee outside you and the line, you are assured to start ahead of her.
Being Tailed On Port Tack
As opposed to being tailed on starboard tack, there are two sure ways to get out of being tailed on port tack. The tactic of pinching off the tailer as described on starboard tack will work as well on port. But there is also another option. When being tailed, you may bear away and go dead downwind. It is important that the tailer does not have a leeward overlap or she may take advantage of luffing rights. Although the tailer may shout not to jibe as you bear away to go downwind, it is important to know that she has no control over you unless she has an overlap. Furthermore, an actual jibe takes a fraction of a second; it takes no time to pull the boom across when going downwind. Therefore, almost instantaneously, you can go from port to starboard tack. Figure 17 illustrates this. CAUTION! When you try this move, you must not jibe so as to put the port tack tailer in a position where she cannot avoid collision. That would be not giving the other boat room to keep clear. Furthermore, under the rules, after the tailee does jibe onto starboard, she must make sure there is enough room to accommodate an unexpected jibe by the tailer with no contact.
If the tailer is clear astern when you jibe, odds are she will be able to get out of your way. Now you are on starboard tack. She must duck your stern or jibe inside, in which case now you are leeward and in the controlling position. Now you can fall back and tail her, pushing her over the line early or keeping her outside of you and the line.