Wow, this is a fun one!
Surprising how the lead boats aren't covering (loosely), it's hurt them both.
Nathan did say that they've found that following around into a tack is faster than gybing going into the gate to gain a split.
Exactly! I still think that at least one time I saw them tack, it was into a header so just tacking to get a split isn't great - but the other time that was executed, it looked even and like a decent move. It's soooo hard to cover in that kind of breeze. It costs so much while maneuvering to stay on your opponent that you are likely putting yourself in jeopardy. The question is how confident you are in the patch of water you are sailing in and toward.
So, the dial down. I see two advantages but I'm lost on what it does for you otherwise. If you can force your opponent to get a penalty during the maneuver (particularly if they're just tacking away from the boundary where there doesn't appear like there is anyway to avoid getting a penalty), sure...looks great. If you can force your opponent to be much tighter on their layline, also looks great. But just executing a dial down in the middle of the course for no reason other than you're headed right at each other, what's the point? You both go equally faster and you're now distracted from what the wind is doing. I'm not a fan of the move unless one of the other scenarios is present.