What factors do you consider when choosing the leeward gate?
- Furthest upwind
- Favored side of the course for next beat
- Getting to the lifted tack after rounding
- Position of competitors
- Follow the guys ahead, since they must know what they’re doing
Your SailZing editors had a chance to capture video of a scenario showing the interplay of these factors in a light and variable breeze. Let’s describe it and ask you to choose.
Leeward Gate Rounding – Race 6
The event was the 2019 C Scow Midwest Invitational Regatta on Lake Beulah, WI. The wind was variable and very light: 3 – 7 mph. As the leading pack of about ten boats approached the first leeward gate, the conditions were as follows:
- The wind was in a left phase (looking upwind)
- The boats behind coming downwind were all on starboard.
- There was no apparent stronger velocity on either side looking further up the course.
- The middle left (looking upwind) had worked well on the first beat.
- The gate marks were set roughly square to the average wind direction (not to the current direction)
Here’s a photo showing the positions of the boats about 100 yards from the mark. The boats have been sailing higher than the rhumb line to maintain speed in the light air, so they will have to gybe to fetch the gate marks. The lead boat has sailed slightly past the layline to the right gate.
Which Gate Would You Choose?
The video below shows the situation continuing after the photo.
Watch the first part of the video and decide which gate you would choose. The watch the rest of the video and see what happens.
Lessons Learned in Choosing the Leeward Gate
Consider choosing the “unfavored” gate (e.g., the furthest downwind mark) if clear air and getting on the lifted tack without maneuvers are high priorities, as they were in this situation.