In your article, you say that "your absolute No. 1 priority should be to sail in the maximum windspeed on the course." I see what you mean about the relative importance of puffs in light air, but what about when you're racing in light air and current?
What if you see a nice puff developing on a part of the course that has more adverse current than your current location-- do you jibe into the bad current to get to the good puff?
I await your mystical reply! Thanks.
"Offset leg... this 20-second reach..."?
The term is new to me. What is it?
good question about current, MFLO, you got me thinking this morning!
If you know that the puff you see is in an area of adverse current, it is possible that the puff is caused by the current itself, from the friction between the wind and the water flowing against it. Is that a real increase in windspeed that you can feel? Absolutely, because we are always sailing in current-affected wind (as opposed to someone on an anchored boat, or standing on shore, who is always feeling only the True Wind).
Of course, some of the puff may be caused by the stronger adverse current, and some of it may actually be more True Wind.
It is certainly possible that there is gold in that there pressure, and a chance to gain on the fleet. But it is potentially very risky to traverse the bad current to chase the puff. For the simple reason that if the puff dies or moves away, you are then stuck doing the moonwalk in bad current. Because the action moves pretty slowly in light air, that pain could last a long time.
Its all about how much risk you want to take on. Is it the first run, or the last run of the race? Are you in last place, with nothing to lose? How far are you from layline?
Each situation will require a different approach to your risk analysis.
If you do decide to sail for for the deeper water, use either a hand bearing compass, or your boats compass, to take a bearing on your closest competition. You may not be able to do anything about it, but at least you can monitor your progress by any bearing change with the competition.
The offset leg is a modern feature of most windward/leeward race courses to reduce the potential of collisions between the boats who have already rounded the windward mark to port and born away with spinnakers, and the upwind port tackers still approaching the mark. I have also heard it called a spreader leg.