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Tactical sailing

Tactical sailing executes your strategy

Tactical sailingYou should determine your Strategy (game plan) before the race begins to provide focus. During the race, tactical sailing is used to execute this game plan. Your strategy might change depending on what you discover during the race, but tactical sailing continues to be the tool you use to execute it.

The principles of tactical sailing

  • Don’t screw up
  • Go the right places
  • Get there as fast as you can
  • Have good tools and reliable readings to help you do that
  • Knowing how fast to go where you want gives you a BIG lever. Polars are the first tool.

Tactical areas

  • The start, including your ability to go where you want without hindrance from the fleet (see Starting Line).
  • Relative position – where your particular enemy is and avoiding situations where you’re forced somewhere you don’t want to go.
  • Keeping your wind clear
  • Knowing whether to favor tacks vs. Wallys (see Break-Even Tacking)
  • Knowing how to wring the most out of wind shifts (see Lateral separation)
  • Efficient evolutions – see How to Improve Tacking and Laylines


 Energy management

  • Speed is energy.
  • Inertia stores this energy.
  • It costs time and distance to recharge.
  • Many maneuvers expend stored energy to allow them to be completed (e.g. tacking)
  • Getting to target speed is filling your tank. How you get there is trim and sailing angle.
  • Bank it properly and spend it in the right places



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