Some people preach playing it safe, sailing near the rhumb line, but many races are won by risk-takers. "We used to swing for the fences quite a bit" says Richard Nye, who with his father, Dick Nye, sailed three boats called Carina to one of the best ocean-racing records ever.
Yes, indeed. In the 1982 Bermuda Race, Carina was hard on the wind on starboard tack, almost laying Bermuda. The on-watch was settling down for a long leg to the finish when Richard Nye poked his head up through the companionway and took a look around. Way up to windward, a lightning bolt flashed down to the water.
"Tack," Nye ordered. The crew looked at him incredulously. Someone told him they were only 10 degrees off the layline to the finish.
"Tack. Theres lightning to windward. The Stream's up there."
Carina tacked and sailed away from Bermuda for a couple of hours until she was well into hot water and a 3-knot current bound southeast. Nye then tacked back. Carina won the IOR division by a comfortable 34 minutes and came within minutes of winning her third St. Davids Lighthouse Trophy.
In the 1972 race to Spain, Carina was drifting along when Nye heard a radio report indicating more wind to the north. He abruptly turned 90 degrees to port. "When the other watch came on deck, they were so mad they wouldnt talk to me." Carina sailed north for almost 24 hours, found better wind, turned east, and won the race.