You will seldom see the top boats in our fleet luffing each other on a reach. This is common at the smaller events. If someone luffs it will usually promote a luffing match in which you will lose out. Boats behind will catch up and you will lose ground to the boats ahead.
Try to avoid a luffing match as much as possible. If the boat ahead is significantly slower get into a much higher lane early, the boat ahead may not feel as threatened and if you are faster you may be able to sail over if the leg is long enough.
If, as is the position in most cases, the boat ahead is of similar speed, consider putting your bow below his transom to show you are not threatening and ride with him to the next mark. You can always pass him on the next beat.
Helm, David McKee, FF4005