There are some FUNDIMENTAL BASICS when sailing the first beat to the weather mark.
The Next few drawings with the grids will hopefully illustrate the point.
You can only play the “cards” ( WIND ) you are delt ! .... So make the most of any given situation.
Yes, someone on another part of the course might get a better puff or wind or a shift in the wind which give them an advantage, but you can do nothing about that right now........... FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROLL .... play the conditions you have wisely .........
Keeping your Boat Speed Up.
Do NOT get involved in Collisions with other boats ...... ( HUGE FACTOR FOR SUCCESS)
Do NOT get caught in their Wind Shaddow.
Tactically start planning your approach to the next mark.
Do that and you will have as good race as you can.
Watch where the top skippers in the fleet go ..... WHY DO THEY DO THAT? -Try and think about it. Once you understand some of their thinking, your results will improve as well.
Are they sailing to cover another boat ?
Are they sailing towards stronger wind ?
Are they sailing towards a lift they know will come from that side ?
Are they trying to get clear - undisturbed air ?
Are they setting themselves up to approach a mark on STARBOARD Tack ?
Can they see chaos approaching and want to distance themselves from it ? ......... Etc.
In the following series of drawings I have attempted to show why you need to be on the GAINING LEG ie The TACK that allows you to point your boat as close to the upwind mark as possible.
In the drawing on the right ( Fig 1) - The wind is directly at 90 degrees to the start line and the weather mark is upwind in the centre of the start line.
Assuming all boats sail at the same speed and do the same number of tacks and the wind does not deviate in strength or direction for the duration of the First Windward Beat ………..
Then all 3 boats - Green, Turquoise and Red each travel 32 Squares and arrive at the upwind point together.
Even in this scenario, there are winners and looser's.
Green approaches Turquoise and Red on PORT TACK and must GIVE WAY, either by tacking onto Starboard ( Not the smartest thing to do) or ducking the TRANSOMS of Turquoise and Red
Turquoise cannot tack as LEEWARD BOAT to Red so Red can hold her there until the last moment before putting in a short tack to reach the STARBOARD LAYLINE to the Mark.
Red seems to have won this battle simply by positioning and tactical decision making, made earlier in the race.