America's Cup


NZ Weather
NZ Tides


Teams Racing Tactics

Theses tips and advice were written for two person, two sail dinghies teams racing without spinnakers. They should be used as a guide in the overall framework of a specific teams race which will of course require specific tactics.

Starting - Defensive

Some suggestions if you are being hunted in the prestart. The general idea is to create confusion for your opponent by introducing as many variables into the equation as possible. Each variable gives you a chance to turn the tables.

  • Go head to wind.
    -> A good move if you want to stay in the same spot for a period of time for example to judge your run for the line.
  • Crash stop by backwinding mainsail.
    -> Your opponent should shoot forward allowing you to get on their tail.
  • Try to lead opposition into committee boat
  • Swap opposition boats with a boat from your own team (commonly refereed to as the switch manoeuvre).
  • Lead opposition into a boat from your team on starboard or even better a boat from their own team.

Starting - Offensive

If in control of an opponent before the start try to:

  • Force opposition boat away from start line preferably downwind.
  • Force opponent over start line with less than thirty seconds to go without crossing yourself.

Upwind - Defensive

If an opponent tries a slam dunk:

  • Bear off before opposition boat has completed tack to get out of their wind shadow.
  • Tack immediately.
  • Never do both, choose one and stick with it!!!

If cover cannot be shaken:

  • Tack on another opposition boat.
  • Get a team mate to tack on the boat covering you.
  • Do a double tack (two tacks in quick succession)
    -> This is an absolute last resort and relies on two conditions to work. One the apposition boat must follow you through both tacks and you must be able to tack faster than your opponent.

Upwind - Offensive

Many people believe the first beat of a team race should be sailed as if it were a fleet race. While this approach has some merit especially against weaker sailors it is generally inappropriate in Teams Racing. Alternatively a lot of people forget that a teams race is still a yachting race and things like shifts, gusts and tidal factors can easily win a team the race.

  • Sail the shifts.
  • Take into account where the tide is strongest and which direction it is flowing.
  • Sail the favoured side of the course relative to your opponents.
  • Tack only if you will gain more out of tacking than you will lose in the tack. Usually about two-three boat lengths.

Reaching and Downwind - Defensive

Many people believe the first beat of a team race should

  • Think about bouyroom for the next mark (two and three) before you even round mark one or mark three.
    -> Marks are a rare opportunity to pass and can get complicated with
  • Think about the big picture!!
  • Do not take an opposition boat up if there is another opposition boat behind them.
    -> Only take an opposition boat up if that boat is followed by one of your team mates and that team mate is not followed immediately by another opposition boat.
    -> In reverse these are offensive moves.
  • Generally think what is the best overall option for the team.

Reaching - Offensive

  • If there is wind or waves pump like you have never pumped before. It is a very short leg, get hard.
  • The crew's position in the boat and trimming of the jib are crucial. Almost to the point that this should be all they are concentrating on in heavy winds.

Downwind - Offensive

  • You should still be pumping like an animal. It is also a short leg, don't stop!!
  • Crews do not site there for the ride!!
    • Centreboard position must be below the kicker ropes before gibing.
    • Face the immediate opposition and tell the skipper:
      1. What other boats are doing.
      2. What Gusts are coming.
      3. Whether the boat is going fast relative to other boats.
      4. If the team is winning or losing.
  • If one opposition boat rounds in front of two boats from your team, one boat sails the fastest course to bottom mark while the other boat covers the lead opposition boat.
  • If you need to gain luffing rights sail two boat lengths to the side of them and then sail back and take them up.


  • Do not finish if your team is losing!!!!
    -> You have to try something or be able to see that another team member can and will do something.
  • Otis Manoeuvre
    -> If your team is 2,3 and 6
    -> 2 and 3 take out 4 and 5
    -> Leaves 6 to come 2nd and 2 and 3 to come 3rd and 5th.

Teams Racing Series
Prev | Home


Home - Search - Sailing - Weather - Yarns - America's Cup - Glossary - Advertising - Contact Info

1997-2024 The Boating Info Centre All Rights Reserved Privacy Statement