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Scuttlebutt Poll:
Is there enough reaching in racing?

Windward-Leeward course
(January 31-February 4, 2009) I remember the conversation, though I am not sure when it happened. Maybe late 80’s/early 90’s. Anyway, the talk was about reaching legs, and how they were pointless parades where positions rarely changed. I was all for getting rid of reaches. When you have good speed, and can play the tactical game well, reaches were not where big gains could be made. Upwind and downwind were the two most tactical legs, and the more time spent on those legs, and the less on reach legs, the better off I would be.

Years later now, when buoy race courses are mostly windward-leewards, I am wondering if that was a mistake. Was I thinking too much of myself, and not enough about the sport? What about the folks that typically don’t trophy, but occasionally have races when they are near the front? After a good start and first beat, a couple reach legs on a triangle course would help them maintain their position. And what about the speed of our boats on a reach? Good fun, and for planning boats, really fun. Plus the tactics of “high road/low road” on the reach always caused plenty of drama.

PUMA skipper Ken Read said he wanted to do the Volvo Ocean Race because “There are only so many windward-leewards you can do before it gets a little tiring.” Is Ken right, and without including an occasional triangle course, has the sport sent itself on a doomed course? Are we getting bored of doing ‘sausages’, or is this what buoy racing is meant to be.

To learn what the 'buttheads thought, the Scuttlebutt poll asked two simple questions about their type of buoy racing, Here was the response:

How often is a windward-leeward course signaled?
  • All the time - 30.00%

  • Nearly all the time - 47.16%

  • Most of the time - 15.43%

  • Not too often - 5.68%

  • Never - 1.73%

  • Would you prefer more courses signaled that had reach legs?
  • Yes - 72.96%

  • No - 27.04%

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