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The Lee Bow


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#1 WildOne

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 12:33 PM

The 'lee bow' manoeuvre is a common tactic when match racing, it is also one that is seen again and again during upwind legs in many forms of match racing. It is a powerful move, and can allow a team to convert a narrow advantage into a bigger lead. A well executed 'lee bow' will also allow a leading team to choose which side of the upwind leg it wants to sail on, while forcing its opponent in the opposite direction.

As the boats converge on opposite tacks, Blue, on port tack, is burdened as the give-way boat, (Rule 10).



Yellow, on starboard tack, can choose to cross ahead, and switch sides to the left side of the race course, or to protect the right side by tacking. If Yellow chooses to protect the right, the most powerful position to tack is nearly one boat length bow forward, and just slightly to leeward of Blue, in the 'lee bow' position. While executing the tack, Yellow must keep clear (Rule 13). As soon as Yellow has completed her tack, Blue is the burdened vessel again, (Rule 11, Rule 12).

But the power of the 'lee-bow' is not just through the rules. From a position slightly to leeward and ahead, the leading boat is giving 'bad air' or 'disturbed wind' to its trailing opponent. After the tack, the wind that hits the sails of Yellow is deflected and turbulent by the time it reaches Blue. The Blue boat will nearly immediately feel this effect and slow down, and the Blue team will be forced to tack away, or will be sailing much more slowly.




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