Minimizing your maneuvers and forcing the other team to make more would seem to me to give you the best chance. More chances for the opponents to make a bad gibe or tack and that seems to be where the biggest gains are made. Going to the wrong side just to split seems to me to be a fool's gamble.
Well, if these guys are fools then I look forward to you showing how much smarter you are, by beating them or at least winning the H16 worlds.
The Kiwis DID do a fairly bad tack when OTUSA split, and OTUSA gained. If you don't split then they can just cover you out to the boundary and/or tack when they have the right pressure and angle, and extend their lead. Ironically, on other forums the Kiwis are getting bagged for not covering enough.