You’re out for an afternoon race. The wind is increasing, little by little. As the breeze was lighter when you set out, you’ve put up your No. 1 genoa and the full mainsail.
As the wind has built, you’ve moved to the windward side of the boat, both to help keep the boat flat with your body weight and, more importantly, to be able to steer effectively. Each gust makes you drag the tiller towards you to try to keep a steady course.
The mainsheet trimmer has already been playing the main traveller but now has to release some of the sheet as well. This is inefficient as, when the gust has passed, it’s taking too long to get the main trimmed back on.
Now you realise you will be forced to reef before the windward mark unless you want to be tailing the field. The other competitors have already reefed and are heading straight for the mark.
Only now do you discover that you have not led your reefing lines!
In Boat Handling I and II, I discuss how to reef a mainsail in detail.