Your SailZing editors served as the Race Committee gate boat for the C-Scow NNN Beulah Challenge on September 24, 2017 at Lake Beulah, WI. We captured many leeward mark roundings on video and paired some examples with a great article from Speed and Smarts.
Mark Rounding Principles
Dave Dellenbaugh’s Speed and Smarts Issue #131 on mark roundings has 31 “plays” showing everything you need to know about windward and leeward mark roundings. For this article, we focused on four of Dellenbaugh’s “plays” related to our leeward mark observations at the regatta.
Strategic or Tactical Rounding? – Plays #15, 16
Wide and tight – the tactical rounding – is best if you have boats close ahead or behind. Exiting tight to the mark gives you the best chance for a clear lane to windward. However, to make a smooth turn and exit close to the mark, sailors typically go past the mark downwind, thus sailing extra distance. (See the diagrams in the Dellenbaugh article.) That’s why Dellenbaugh recommends a “strategic” rounding if no one is near you.
In a strategic rounding, you approach the mark without being so wide, pass the close to the mark on a beam reach at the bottom of the arc, and get to close-hauled after you pass the mark. This type of rounding is also discussed by Andy Horton in a 2008 Sailing World article.
Slow Down to Round the Mark Faster – Play #5
If you have boats inside of you, don’t remain outside of those boats as you round the mark. Slow down and/or go wide before you round, so you can then turn up and round tight to the mark, right behind the inside boats. This gives you a better chance at clear air and the freedom to tack.
Choose the Best “Exit Strategy” – Play #29
After you round behind someone, getting clear air is a big deal. You have three main options: 1) use some speed to pinch up and try to hold the lane on the tack you rounded, 2) tack soon after rounding, or 3) foot off on the same tack to get ahead for clear air.
The video shows examples of each each of these principles from the regatta.