Tuning wind and tidal turbines is critical to maximizing their power output. Adopting a wind turbine tuning strategy of maximizing the output at any given time is shown to be an extremely poor strategy for large arrays of tidal turbines in channels. This ‘impatient-tuning strategy’ results in far lower power output, much higher structural loads and greater environmental impacts due to flow reduction than an existing ‘patient-tuning strategy’ which maximizes the power output averaged over the tidal cycle. This paper presents a ‘smart patient tuning strategy’, which can increase array output by up to 35% over the existing strategy. This smart strategy forgoes some power generation early in the half tidal cycle in order to allow stronger flows to develop later in the cycle. It extracts enough power from these stronger flows to produce more power from the cycle as a whole than the existing strategy. Surprisingly, the smart strategy can often extract more power without increasing maximum structural loads on the turbines, while also maintaining stronger flows along the channel. This paper also shows that, counterintuitively, for some tuning strategies imposing a cap on turbine power output to limit loads can increase a turbine’s average power output.