Monday, February 23, 2009

The blanket and pass.....

I recently had a little deal with a Laser guy coming close by to windward to take my wind and pass. When that happens you need to give them enough of a luff so they remember you. They probably don’t remember the old days when we luffed people hard that came by to windward to blanket our wind and pass. Under the old rules you could push your board down and come head to wind as quick as you could. You would hope they would hit you and you could leave them doing penalty turns and you go back to your race. We used to talk about the "passing lane", up three or four boat lengths to windward that where the boat being passed wouldn’t be tempted to luff you up. Maybe get you on their hip and head to China (or Africa– East Coast or West Coast).
With our sailing by the lee thing, the new Lasers have turned that upside down. When by the lee, as soon as you are far enough over to take the wind of a "by the lee boat" now he is the "windward boat" (because of the side the boom is on) and he has to keep clear. So when going by the lee with someone close behind you need to go "hard by the lee" so they will not be tempted to go for your wind without gybing (that puts them on port tack).

Monday, February 16, 2009

If you are new to this blog, read the Primary Laser Advice down below for general info. This post is some repeat that comes from todays Laser notes.

We have a youth that is learning not to go to the corners or the lay line early. If you get headed, the others tack and beat you. If you get lifted, those below you get lifted up to the mark. Now you can free up a little, ans try to sail faster and beat them to the mark. Probably not fast enough to make up for the shift.

AND at the windward mark to get the boom out and go "by the lee" (fast) on starboard and aim for the inside at the next mark.

AND when you are on a reach and pass someone to windward, you are on the same tack (windward boat) and need to keep clear (We used to call it a passing lane.). Some of our older folks are still working on that.

AND then on the high wind reaching legs keep working the vang with the changes in wind speed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is one of the reasons I started this blog-- a place to stick this stuff ---that is in the e-mail that someone might want to look through again. This was an unofficial race day and planned as a sort of practice.

The Saturday extra LASER RACES on January 24/09. We were delayed getting started. Fog- no wind- and Sam couldn’t get the RC boat started.. Scot managed to do the starting for us so we sailed from 10:30 to 12:30 with the wind going from light to medium when we finished. There were some MCs working out for the upcoming regattas and testing sails. Two 420s out in the morning and about four in the afternoon high school class. Optis morning and afternoon classes.
Sam was able to follow the boats around and here are some comments.
1) when the wind is really light sit as far forward as you can. Our heavy guy Randy Rea beats us regularly by just pushing a little ahead of the cockpit. Dave C. Sits on the centerboard or just to leeward of it. So does Sam, but he can’t see anything from there and hasn’t figured out how to tack from there.
Wetted surface is the main drag at low speeds so heel th boat to leeward big time even going up wind.
As the wind picks up then wave making becomes the main drag, now hold the boat flat or heel to windward.
A little vang on in light air holds the leach tight. About 8 to 10 inches from block to block and then let the sheet out to where ever you need to keep the boat moving.
2) Good roll tacks gets you about an extra boat length with each tack. Ask to see the Steve Cockerel Upwind Boat Whisperer.
If you have trouble knowing where the next tack will go, sight across the front edge of the cockpit or draw some big black lines across the deck. Check out the lines on Sam’s boat.
In light air to be sure you are on the correct angle before your tack, have your tell tales flowing on both sides of the sail. If the sun is on the windward side and you can’t see the far side tell tale ease the sail out a little and if the windward tell tale begins to wiggle, then just trim in a little. If the sheet takes a lot, then you are sailing too low, head up gently and trim the sail in.
3) Our going around the windward mark is getting better. Get that boom out so you can stay on starboard tack. In the light air have it out past 90 degrees pretty well, so when you heel big time (wetted surface and negative helm and wind stronger off the water) the weight of the boom holds the sail out nice and steady. — try to find a streak of wind and stay in it. (Yes, you are sailing toward the front and looking behind... say that is what my crew used to do.)
4) We need a lot of work on leeward mark roundings. If no one is around, then smooth turn to keep speed up and go by mark close on lee side, not going any further down wind than necessary. When in company then the tactical rounding, coming in wide with smooth turn and exiting close hauled next to the buoy. It helps if you can get the gybe in before the turn. If you are big time by the lee, then you should be able to trim in to get the gybe in. If you do that two or three boat lengths away from the mark that shouldn’t slow you much. Then you don’t have as much sheet to get in marking the turn. We need to be better about taking the long pulls of sheet with both arms. Yes, I know you are steering with the aft hand and arm. You have that long tiller extension, use it.
If you catch the transom (unlucky or not practiced enough) just trim in and go. If someone is right behind you, you want to be wrecking his wind and if you are right behind someone, the next tack will unhook the sheet.
As you go around the mark, head up to close hauled course even if your trimming is slow and the sail has big time luffing. It is just easier to trim then and reserves that close hauled slot for you. Sailing fast in the wrong direction will not help your cause.
5) And at the end we come around to starts. Stay close in light wind because it is hard to get back for the start. Use the 3 minutes A) check the line for bias. B) time the line (helps with speed -distance judgement) C) find a range D) check the current (none). In light air if the fleet will let, you keep moving. When the wind is up a little then do the stop and go thing. That needs practice.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Primary advice.

This is the three pages that I give to people new to Laser sailing or coming back to it.

LAUNCHING: Rudder down a little on leaving the beach and ½ centerboard (can go upwind fairly well with ½). When clear, go to "safety position" and push rudder down and cleat rudder line. If you have a lot of weather helm, you forgot to get the rudder down or it has come up again.
RETURNING: Uncleat rudder hold down, so it will come up when you ground. Then monitor centerboard to pull it out and step off in shallow water.
LONG TILLER EXTENSION: Usually hold in front of your chest but can hold to the side with frying pan grip. When you tack you must push the tiller over with the extension and then follow through by pushing the tiller extension past the mainsheet to the other side of the boat. Then bring the tiller back into center line before crossing over. This makes me tack faster than I would other wise, but it works well.
WHEN GYBING the sheet tends to catch on the transom. To prevent this when you are gybing, reach forward and catch the sheet just below the boom block and, as the sheet goes slack, pull about 2 feet of the sheet in. That starts the sheet across the stern so that it doesn’t catch. Don’t jerk it hard or it will flip the sheet over the end of the boom. If you are sailing in pretty good wind and haven’t worked this out, just tack. Don’t gybe.
TACKING FROM reach to reach will also catch the transom if you don’t trim in some sheet while you are going around.
COMING INTO SHORE DOWNWIND, you can just let the sail out in front of the boat and let it luff. The long sheets will let you do that and get it back if you want. With the old shorter sheets you may have to undo the knot in the end of the sheet and let it go through the ratchet block. If you retie the knot before the boom block, that is often enough to let the sail all the way out and not have the sheet run out through all the blocks.

DOWNWIND, heel the boat to weather so the deck edge is at the water. Put your uphill knee down so you can roll into the boat more easily to balance if you have a big roll to weather (see Death Roll). With repeated rolling, that is too much, trim the sail in and maybe more board down.
SAILING BY THE LEE may be a new trick for you . The boat will be more stable and faster.
In average wind, boom out 90 degrees, vang off a little so the leach gets a little floppy. Steer till the tell tails are flowing leach to luff and the leach is flopping a little. Centerboard down a little. Heel to windward (away from the sail).
In light wind let the boom out past 90 so the weight of the boom holds it out.
In Strong wind, boom is out less than 90 degrees (see death roll) and sail by the lee for a more stable ride. Less vang means the sail has to come in more. A little rolling back and forth can be fast, but if on the edge of a death roll, trim and /or head up to stabilize. A little more board down may do the stabilizing.
SAILING UP WIND. Hike to keep the boat FLAT. The flatter the better. In moderate wind you may be able to heel to weather and go even higher. (The radial rig is balanced to let you heel maybe 5 degrees.)
Light wind. Let the traveler off and the boom come inside the transom. If you are losing speed, let the boom back out to the corner of the transom. You can pull the boom in with your hand and friction will hold the block more in toward the center of the transom if you want to pinch off someone to weather. Don’t do that too long because you will slow and leeway will be increasing. The fast guys don’t do this anymore but keep the traveler tight and the boom out to the transom corner. If it is really light wind maybe out more and heel the boat to leeward so gravity shapes the sail and the heeling lowers the wetted surface area.
Medium wind. Tight traveler and trim the boom to the corner of the transom, but about 8 to 10 inches away from two blocked at the traveler.
Increasing wind so that you can’t hold it flat, then trim the sheet to two blocked or somewhere near. This bends the top mast section and fattens the sail. With puffs coming and going, trim to two blocked and then ease again when the puffs subside if you can still hold the boat flat. Try to let the rachet block hold the line. Just ease the pressure in your hand and arm until there is the slightest slip in the block and see how little pressure is really needed to hold the sheet. Often in the excitement of the dance with wind and waves, I hold everything in my hand until may arm gets tired and sore and reminds me, I don’t have to work this hard.
When two blocked you will need some Cunningham to pull the draft of the sail forward..
When two blocked and sailing in traffic, you may want to pull the vang on just tight so when bearing off under starboard tackers you gain the most speed. If you leave the vang on the boom will be lower when tacking. Remember to get your head down. Take the vang off going into the windward mark so as you turn down wind, you don’t stick the end of the boom in the water.
As I am sailing upwind I try to keep the sheet kicked to the back of the cockpit so that at the windward mark, it is less likely to be wrapped around my foot or knotted. Recently I have tried to keep it in the front of the cockpit and think that works better.
If you can’t keep the boat flat by two blocking up wind, then it is time for Super vang. To super vang, pull the sheet into two blocked and then pull on the vang as strong as you can. The new boats have a sleeve in the boom to take this kind of treatment. If you have an old boat and are bending the mast much, you might consider adding the sleeve.
Now that you are super vanged, let the boom out beyond the transom as far as necessary to keep the boat flat. When Ed Adams is super vanged, before he tacks, he takes the vang off and throws the handle over to the lee side so it will be handy to put on again after the tack. That gives him more room under the boom and a more powerful sail right after the tack. Just remember that the boom is low with the vang on.
CAPSIZE. The upper mast is sealed and will float the boat on it’s side. Strong wind can blow it in turtle position, but in lighter wind you can swim away and leave it and swim back later. I have seen experienced sailors capsize the boat, swim over to help another right their boat, and then swim back to his.
A strong steady pull on the centerboard should right the boat in usual circumstances.
If the sail is to windward when the boat is righted, it will likely capsize again in the other direction. Hot shots may hold onto the centerboard as the boat rights, slowing the flip and come up on the windward side to climb in without the problem of righting the boat a second time. This is the "San Francisco roll."
If you are capsizing in windy conditions, let go of the hiking stick as it might break and hold on to the sheet so you don’t have to chase the boat.
One condition that is difficult to recover from is turning over to windward with the sail out more than 90 degrees. The sail is not in the water but full of wind and the boat is on it’s side. Even if the sail was trimmed in more it may get out a little more as you turn over. To prevent this from happening, you can knot your sheet so it won’t go out more than 90 degrees on a day with strong wind.
Sometimes when the boat is capsizing you can jump over the windward side and step on the centerboard , right the boat with out getting wet. If the mast is already in the water and you try to climb up the deck side to do this you may drive the mast under and into the tough muck at the bottom of Lake Eustis. This muck will really hold the end of the mast tight and you might need help to get it out. If a helping motor boat takes a bow line and pulls it gently at right angle to the boat on the bottom side (away from the sail) it will unscrew the sail form the mud and bring you up. If you have no help, then just keep pressure on the centerboard with righting pressure and you may come loose. If someone else jumps in with you, two people on the centerboard can usually do it.
DEATH ROLL. Is a capsize to windward. On a broad reach or a run when the top of the sail twists enough to point to windward, a roll to windward increases the apparent wind at the top of the mast and with the long lever arm of the mast, the boat is slammed down to windward. Because it is very hard to stop once the final roll starts and you are sitting on the wrong side to counter it, it is called the "death roll."
It was more of a problem a few years ago when lines stretched more and the sail was of lighter material. All this would stretch in a puff. What was a good balance before had the top of the sail pointing the wrong direction.
Last moment action.. Trim sail, head up and lay back in the water on the windward side. (Lightens the down side of the boat– trying to get to the high side increases the torque to turn over.) Steve Cockerel says to turn the other way and the rudder will dig in and help prevent the roll, but you may gybe. Check out the "Boat whisperer- downwind".
THE BIG BLOW. How to handle it.
1) Turn the boat down and sit on the high side balancing the boat with several feet of mast in the water. That can be a comfortable sitting position. The edge of the boat is in the water resisting drift and the sail is in the water out of the way. You might see hot shots doing some of that between races, especially if the wind is blowing strongly and beating the sails up. This is a method used by Lasers and International 10 square meter canoes when the wind is too strong for them to handle. When the little storm has passed, right the boat and sail on.
2) Let the sail out in front of the boat so it luffs while you comfortably sail someplace down wind or a broad reach.
3) The sail can be reefed by unplugging boom and rotating the mast to roll the luff of the sail up. If the top batten is removed a lot of sail can be rolled up, and then plug the boom in again. This was much easier to do with the old sail controls.
4)If it is survival sailing for you, then the vang off, out haul tight, close reach as much as necessary to work up wind. Downwind, see 2 above.
WALKING AROUND THE MAST. Occasionally you may want to get on the bow of the boat and then get back to the cockpit and visa vera. Stand in the middle of the boat with one or two hands on the mast, tip the boat about 45 degrees to one side and step to the center of the boat on the other side of the mast. Don’t step on the side of the boat and don’t stay with one foot in front of the mast and one be hind. It is not hard to do and works better with the centerboard down.