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The host club are keen on windward/leeward but I believe their reasonong is not correct for Wayfarers so I have urged them to at least give us a mix of the two types of course.

Obviously windward leeward courses are now popular and that is because many modern boats are asymmetric spinnaker boats. For those boats it is perfectly true that there is no benefit in a reaching leg and that the tactics exisit in the downwind leg. That is because they are unable to sail a course closer than about 25 or 35 degrees off dead downwind. Hence this means more gybing, and for those boats there is a tactical trade-off between speed and depth in deciding the best VMG to the buoy. Even if the wind shifts quite a bit then the course is still valid because these boats will still need to gybe for the mark.

In contrast, a Wayfarer sails practically straight down wind. Sailing hotter angles doesn’t pay in a Wayfarer except in very light winds, and even then we’re talking only 5 degrees off or so. Provided that the course is absolutely straight downwind then some tactical opportunities do exist on the run, however the wind only has to shift 5 degrees and the leg becomes a non-tactical broad reach. As regards the olympic triangle sausage corses, experience shows that in Wayfarers there is considerable position changing on the reaches and the gybe mark especially on a windy day when only these reaches allow the boat to plane. Some people master this (including the wave action) much better than others – it is a key element in the skill of sailing the boat well. The same goes for the gybe itself. It would be a great shame to eliminate the skills of planing on a fast spinnaker reach from the race altogether, and also eliminating the gybe mark.

The Wayfarer is an old boat and the old courses do work well! Some people definately want some course variety so OK introduce some windward leeward courses but I would say for no more than 50% of the races. For those races you must (for the Wayfarer class) be absolutely vigilant to changes in wind direction and move the downwind gate accordingly to avoid spoiling half of the race (I assume it will have to be a gate). In Canada in 2004 the race committe on the water and the mark boats were very efficient in this regard for the windward/leeward races there (which accounted for half of the races sailed). In practice this meant moving the downwind gate for each and every downwind leg sailed.

I would have thought that a mixture of courses would satisfy most people – I know the windward leeward seems popular outside the UK and we had to compromise in Canada. For the reasons I have given I support triangle sausage courses on the windy days and windward leeward on the light days, but since we are unable to plan the wind strength lets hope they decide to alternate the two types of course.