Boston Harbor Sailing Club...More Time on the Water...

Lesson Learned

Going Windward - Light and Shifty


After the third race lat night, quite a few people asked me why I held on port so long. It was the tactic that won the race. Here is the explanation

The course was set up such that the weather mark was far to the right of the wind. That is most of the weather leg (over 3/4 of it at least) was on port tack.

1. A technique for sailing weather legs is to keep getting back to the rhumb line. This minimizes the probability of taking a bad shift in the corners. However, the way the course was laid out; all the boats were starting in the port corner! Therefore, to get to the rhumb line one had to stay on port tack and go right. By holding on port past everyone else, I got the rhumb line first. Just then, there was a large port tack lift and I was lifted to the mark. Everyone else of my port side was now behind and over standing the mark.

2. Another way to look at it is to stay on the tack that points closer to the mark, in this case port. This is a good light air tactic. As the wind gets light, the tacking penalty in terms of boat speed increases. Therefore even if I was tempted to tack starboard, the light wind was an impediment.


Written by Alan Palevsky (06/21/06).  Any comments? Send me an email

Lessons Learned

Return to Racer's Corner

Mailing Address: 71 Commercial St #262 Boston, MA 02110
Sailing operations: The Private Marina at Rowes Wharf
Telephone: 617-720-0049 | E-mail:

Page Master