Friday, December 31, 2010


The Laser District 13, 2010 winners at Lake Eustis Sailing Club.
Are they all Youths?

The Number 2 post for the year.  LASERS DO NOT ALWAYS WIN, May 21, 2010.  I can't get the link to work, but this is the long post about how you can have a good time racing without winning.  Lots of strange things to do.  Most of it I made up myself..

The Number 1 post for the year.  LASER SAILORS AND THE FUN PROBLEM, September 11, 2010.  Maybe the link will work again next year.  I chose this as the best because it will be more useful in everyday life.  It is always that the great banana peal is spread out.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The Lake Eustis Sailing Club RC signaling the "B"course.  They are the best.  In the far distance you can see the old man himself.

Most of our posts have been how to sail your boat better.  How to sail faster.  How to win more races and things like that.  We steal Ideas from other people.  Occasionally they get credit.  But there is not much out there about how to have fun. Now take a look at

Number 4  LASER SAILORS HAVE FUN, September 10, 2010  The link gadget didn't work, but this is the picture of Paul Elstrom sitting on his capsized boat (probably a Finn) and saying that "No mater what happens when you are racing, remember to have fun."  Paul was not always able to do that-- it is really hard sometimes.  He also said you should love sailing your boat, or get a different kind.

Number 3  LASER FUN TURNS TO EXCITEMENT AND TERROR, September 15, 2010.  I chose this post because it demonstrates and talks about the difference between fun and terror, or at least fun and not fun anymore.  And how one can change to another.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Now I am in the midst of pointing out what I think are my best posts of the year.   I will tell you about the picture a little further down..

Number 6.  LASER SAILORS MAKE NOTES, September 9, 2010.  I have several posts on how we learn from mistakes, but here is the one that will let you remember the mistakes longer and give you a chance to review them from time to time.  No big deal but an important step to being better.

Number 5  LASERS RESCUE RACING, October 9, 2010. If you click on that link, you will have to scroll down a couple to get to THE RESCUE.  That was as close as I could get.   OK, now we have been improving our sailing, but what if we are the only ones out there.  Above in the picture is Claire A., our look into the future.  I think we are going to do OK.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This picture is not related to my best 10 posts of 2010, but I like it.  Everyone working hard.  Maybe a gate because they are going around to starboard.  Maybe a team race with S and B shirts on.

Picking the best 10 have been tough for me but here are the next three.

9)  LASERS CONSOLIDATE, November 22, 2010.  This is Buddy Melges after getting a short lead looks for the first chance to move over in front of some of the fleet.  Not trying to win the race, but to stay in contention.
8)  LASERS TACK AND GYBE, November 9, 2010.  Buddy Melges takes us on practice sail and starts out with 50 tacks and then 50 gybes.  Wow!  If I did this a couple of times!

7) THE LASER SAILOR AND 10,000 HOURS, October 29, 2010.  This is a look at the time and experience that is necessary to be good at anything.  Another WoW!

So I will leave that for today and try and fit the others in to the next few of days.
Still can't get the link to work.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I am thinking about all the fun we have had this year sailing Lasers and this is a picture of the two most important fellows in our fleet.  They sail regularly, often fight it out for last place and keep smiling.  They are getting faster and faster, but still need to work on keeping the boat flat. If we didn't have them then it would probably be me and then I hope they will be holding the fleet together in several years.

We still have four more posts on Buddy Melges's book "Sailing Smart", but I will hold those off while I tell you about my ten favorites that I have made in the past year.  It was hard for me to get it down to ten, but I want to start with LASER SAIL TO RULE OF THUMB, September 13, 2010.  That was about sailing the long tack first until it wasn't the long tack anymore and then think hard about getting over the other way.  I keep thinking about that now in every race although is nothing really new.

If I knew what I was doing you could click on that capitalized title (Like in Proper Course) and go right to the post.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


The recent note about sailing in high winds did not talk about the gybe. So let me touch on some points. 1) Get the boat going fast. Down a wave or in a gust, you want the apparent wind with less force. 2) Induce the turn with a little windward heel (let out some sheet). 3) Turn with the rudder into a shallow S turn so that you are turning straight again as the boom is coming over and you are moving to the new windward side. 4) Then level the boat as you turn more downwind and make the hand exchange.

You will be toward the back of the cockpit to help keep the bow up. The turn with the rudder into the gybe with the windward heel, will help elevate the bow so the boat turns more easily on the stern sections.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



If your life jacket can catch on the boom, then wear a shirt over the jacket to hold it down.

If you fall out of the boat, let go of the tiller extension and hold onto the sheet. You can pull on the sheet to get back to the boat and don’t have to swim after the boat.

Don’t sail alone on windy days.

To Manage storms. 1) Turn down the boat and sit on the high side until the wind gets lighter. Then right the boat and sail home.
2) If home is down wind, let the sail out in front of the boat and let it luff, while you broad reach or run under control. If you have standard sheet, you will have to untie the knot at the end, pass the end through the racket block and retie the end. If you don’t retie the sheet will run out and hard to get back. If you have the knot at the boom block, you can change your mind about sail direction. You can head up and get the sheet end back. If you have a 50 foot sheet you can let the sail all the way out without fooling with the end, but you have to put up with the extra 4 to 6 feet of line in the bottom of the boat the rest of the time.
3) If you need to go upwind in survival situation, get the vang all the way off or unhook it so when you ease the sheet a little the boom will rise. Then close reach back and forth, driving the boat with the bottom half of the sail full and the top in a luff.

Tacking in high winds 1) Be moving fast when you begin the tack. 2) Tack in a flat spot or on the down side of a wave. 3) Turn fast to a close reach, hike, trim in and then get back to close-hauled. 4) If caught in irons, fall off to almost beam reach, trim in fast and try and get going before the wind cranks you back into irons again.

UP WIND AND DOWNWIND.. Try to keep the boat balanced– near flat. If a gust makes you heel, ease the sheet to keep flat before the end of the boom hits the water (too Late). If the boat heels to windward, trim in and bear off or both.

When on a run or reach and fast planing, get the board half way up. A full board can plane up to the surface if it gets a little angle.

When planing move as far back in the boat as you can to get on the more stable stern sections and the bow up.

When on a reach or a run, control the heel by sheeting in or out. If a gust catches you, heeling and forcing you up, sheet out to flatten the boat and gain control.

On a run you are more stable by the lee. Keep the boom in at 70 or 80 degrees from hull midline. You may want to put an extra knot is the sheet there so it won’t go out further if you drop the sheet. Not too much vang as you want some twist at the top of the sail to help prevent accidental gybe.

By the lee is a little more stable, but dead downwind can be really unstable.  So go downwind by the lee or broad reaching.

If the boat heels too much to windward, turn the boat toward the boom with the rudder. This will tend to sink the transom and twist the boat more upright. The worst that will happen is a gybe. Don’t try to head up, like some of us did years ago.

The “death roll” happens when the top of the sail get pointed to windward and starts the boat rolling, and then the apparent wind at the top of the mast kicks in and accelerates the capsize to windward. “Death roll” because it happens so quickly it is hard to control. When the roll starts turn the boat toward the boom with the rudder – see “if the boat heels too much to windward” above.

Now if you turn over to windward and are righting the boat, think about holding onto the centerboard as the boat rights, going under the boat and coming up on the windward side to again right the boat or to just get in. (The San Francisco roll)

In Lake Eustis we have especially sticky mud in the bottom at about 12 feet deep. If you get you mast head into it, it may take two people on the centerboard to get it free or a motor boat to pull the bow forward and downwind.

In general, it takes PRACTICE to make these adjustments and keep the boat level. If you get over a little the boom can quickly get in the water. Time then, to practice “right the boat”


To practice in higher winds you might want to try the 4.7 and radial and to work your way up to full rig..

Saturday, December 18, 2010


We are still in the Buddy Melges Book-"Sailing Smart".   We have just covered the three times to slow up.  The rest of the time sail fast.  It can make up for a lot of dumb moves as long as you are not sailing fast in the wrong direction.  
Before Buddy does any of these other things he gets the boat over and works on the bottom.  Get the scratches out.  Really fine wet sanding and a soft block, never just with your fingers. Then rubbing compound with a soft cloth.  He wants to do it himself, so he know when he gets in the boat he has the best bottom in the fleet.  Then he polishes the mast and boom and cleans the stays.  He is not sure that reducing windage makes any difference, but he wants to be sure that his boat is better than any of the others.
Do you have the best prepared boat in the fleet?

Monday, December 6, 2010


The red boat needs to slow up so it will not be on the outside in the turn around the leeward mark.  Trim sail in to lose power, move to the back of the boat to drag the stern, or easiest steer right and left to take a longer course.  Now you can go behind and maybe get an inside overlap or at least follow around the mark with the ability to tack at will.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


First a little report on the weather in central Florida.  80 degrees out today and it is going to be 60 tomorrow.  So this is the last warm day of the year and I was able to get some Laser sailing in this afternoon.

Well if you had a jib, you could have the crew back it while you eased the main to slow up, so not to be over the line at the start.   In the Laser it is luff up, vang off, and back the sail by pushing on the boom if necessary.  Bow even with people around you.  A little room to leeward if you can arrange it.  Heal to lee so you can get a pump in when your time is expiring, vang on and sheeting in.

I know this in old stuff, but we hit the slow up button from Buddy and just trying to touch the three slowups that I know.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It is Thanksgiving Day and I am thank full that I will be able to go down to the lake and sail a Laser with a son and a granddaughter.  And I still have time for this blog.

We are still working on Buddy Melges's book and suggestions.   Working up from the last bit on the windward leg, he wants to delay going to the starboard tack lay line at the windward mark.  You save the wind shifts till the end, but now you  may face a long string of starboard tackers going to the mark. 

When he is looking for a gap to tack into, he does not bear off and sail down the line.  That is the wrong direction and makes the turn into the tack too much and too slow.  Just ease the sheet, slow the boat and wait till the gap comes to you.  This is the second of three times during the race that you should slow up.

Also if you can arrange it, come in on port tack more than three boat lengths from the mark to preserve some of you rights around the mark by entering the ZONE on starboard.

Monday, November 22, 2010


When Buddy Melges works out a little lead toward the left, he will be looking for the first opportunity to tack toward the middle to consolidate what ever lead he has. Maybe a little header. Take as much as you can he says.  Hang with the fleet and somewhere in the middle of the course if you can.  From that position you won't loose to much on big wind shifts.  The goal is to be in the top few boats at the windward mark.

Friday, November 19, 2010


After the start, Buddy Melges will scallop to windward.  Head downwind just a bit to gain speed and then with more water moving over keel or board, he heads up a little to pinch to windward.  The boat to leeward will limit how far down he can head to gain speed, but then he pinches up to clear them and to free his wind.  When he has headed down to gain speed, he is footing out away from the boat to windward and then pinches up to deflect air into the wrong side of their sails.

Keep the boat flat and sail fast for that first minute or so after the start to work a clear lane.  Then look for a header or opportunity to tack and consolidate your lead (Oops, that is the next hint.)

Sure, this is old stuff.  Many people will be doing it.  You just need to try to do it better.  Practice??

Monday, November 15, 2010


More Buddy Melges suggestions:   Practice the START.   From stopped to close reach and changing gears to going fast close hauled.  It is at the start, that you have the first chance to get out in front with clear air and ability to tack with the wind shifts.

This is the time that the boats are the closest together and a little more acceleration  will  really pay off.  You need to practice this alone and in all kinds of wind conditions.  And you can practice it with a friend and after you get all the details worked out.

It needs to be automatic, so you can be keeping track of your competitors, time and wind shifts when the real starts come up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Another tip from Buddy.

In "Sailing Smart" Buddy Melges tells us to hold the tiller lightly.  A little weather helm and lightly so you can feel the right angle for the boat and not over steer.

If you are going to fall out of the Laser, drop the tiller extension and hold onto the sheet.

Smile, you are having fun.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Thanks, John Payne, for this neat photo of Laser action.

One of the Sailing World hot shots tells us to read Buddy Melges's "Sailing  Smart" book.  I have an old copy and was able to find it in the midst of a collection of other sail fast type of books.

They were  right.  It is worth keeping under your pillow so you look up stuff.  Lots of Jib trim stuff, that I can skip these days, but then when he goes out to practice---- starts out with 50 tacks and 50 gybes.. 

Wow.  I loose count after about 17.   Last week we had some big wind and big shifts along with colder weather (40 degrees at night and 55 during the day, frostbitters) and I sure needed some better boat handling.  Things get harder when you are moving faster.

OK, Buddy.  First I have to practice counting to fifty.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Lasers hail “protest”.

Lake Eustis had a Youth Regatta this past weekend and it is worth reporting we had two protests that were judged invalid because rule 61.1 was not followed— “she shall hail ‘Protest’ and display a red flag” 61.1(a)(2) “less than 6 meters, need not display a red flag.” (Maybe Flying Scots need the red flag at the ready.) Note that it takes 60 rules before you get to that one. (And Sam doesn’t even have it in his simplified free rule book, yet.)

Since the big rule change about 12 years ago with rules 14, 15, and 16 included to stop boats from bumping into each other, protests have gone way down and maybe learning the rules have suffered also.

In the protest business it is often a fifty-fifty thing, about who is right. Maybe the protest committee just flips a coin, and decides who to throw out.

So if someone hails (shouts) “protest” at you, you have an opportunity to do the 720 turns or go to protest meeting. In our own Laser fleet we have not had a any protests. Folks do 360 and 720 turns and we keep sailing. We could make up a P committee, when ever we need one.

If you get tangled up in a boat to boat conflict, it slows you progress around the course and interferes with watching the wind, watching other boats, and stay on the lifted tack to the next mark. You generally do better to keep sailing fast, and not worry about one person that doesn’t know the rules yet. Some time though, you will think you need to protest someone, or someone that “hails” protest to you– and you would rather run the risk of the flip of the protest committees coin to doing the 720 turns. Remember if the P committee throws you out you get worse than last place. A couple of turns maybe will loose you a couple of places and maybe none..

So we should have “a make believe protest and hearing” so our youth and “not so youth” can see how it works? Maybe a Saturday after the racing. Serve ice cream so we can keep the youth around?

Friday, October 29, 2010


Malcolm Gladwell in this book explores the lives of people like Mozart , the Beatles, Bill Gates, and other really successful people to find that before success, they had put in at least 10,000 hours of practice (or trial) before they got really good at what they were doing.

10,000 hours is what?  It is an 8 hour day, 5 days a week for almost 5 years with no time off for Christmas or sickness.

Now that is his 10,000 hour rule. That is the minimum that great performance needs.

He thinks no one is just born with the talent.

You have to pay your dues.

So how much sailing

practice and regatta

sailing will you

be doing this

week, month,

or year?


Monday, October 25, 2010


This note stolen from Sailing World (November- December 2010) Steve Hunt “Open Your Bag of Tricks”. He notes 10 tricks and I just stopped with number one. “Sail the boat at the optimum angle of heel”.

I love this picture of Steve Cockerel sailing in wind and waves. He is almost flat. Flat is fastest, but with waves and spray, a little heel encourages the foredeck spray to roll off and not all come into the cockpit. He is rocking back and heading up to go over the next wave. Most importantly with the supervang, he is sheeted out a foot or so past the transom, to keep sailing fast and hold the angle of heel. Don’t let the gusts increase your heel. Sheet out and if you are supervanged the mast doesn’t straighten when you sheet out. Now you are going faster. If you heel, you will be doing more leeway, slower and rudder dragging more, as you try to keep going straight.

In less waves try to keep the boat flatter. You might even be able to sail with windward heel which makes the a asymmetrical hull work to weather. When the wind is very light, then weight forward and big time leeward heel to reduce wetted surface. (When you are going slow and not making any waves, then wetted surface is holding you back.) Going down wind, it is max windward heel to get the sail up into more wind and the center over the boat so you don’t need much rudder.

If planing, move way to the back to get the bow up and boat flat. You will be more stable planing on the flatter surfaces at the stern.

So the optimum heel changes around the course, but if you think more about that and get it screwed into your bottom automatic brain, you will have more time to look around and see what is happening on the course. Now you are sailing faster and keeping your “head out of the boat” and into the rest of the race.

Remember sailing fast makes your tactics look great.

Practice “think heel”, if you don’t already.

Now check out the boats ahead of you.

What are they doing?

What heel?

Thursday, October 14, 2010


In the September 2010 “Sailing World” Dick Rose gave a “Competitors Bill of Rights” that he extracted from the sailing rules. Three pages with 10 major parts and 17 extra notes about your possible dealings and appeals to the Protest Committee.

My take, after reading most of it — forget it... If you are not a professional, you came to have fun sailing. With our current sailing rules — particularly 14, 15, 16 and 17—you always have a 50% chance of losing. Maybe yell at the other boat and forget it. This is just a game! Not life and death.

Most of us don’t make a living at it. Most of us are not at the World Championship or at the Olympics with a shot at the top. If you are one of those folks going for the big stakes stuff with dreams of glory and the big prize, then maybe you need to cut out those pages and glue them to the back of you appeals book to carry along with your two rule books. (Yes, two rule books so that when one rule refers to another by number, you can read the second and third rule with losing your pace in the first rule book. It helps.)

Yes, and maybe you may need to protest someone that keeps doing stupid things. Maybe you just need a rules session in your fleet or club.

At one time, with different rules, we learned the rules in the protest meetings. Now we hardy have protest hearing for the above reasons.

I think that grown ups just act like they know what they are doing.   Could CATS do better?

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I am not sure about saving sailing, but we can do a lot to advance it.

Teach adults to sail.
Teach youth to sail.
Teach the rules.
Teach and promote racing–that is where you learn to sail better or well.
Can we teach sailing without “certified instructors”?
Encourage crewed boats. Crews often move into boat owners.
Have a crew series–when the crew skippers and skipper crews– how about a big prize.
Lasers sail double. Lets get three on the Laser.
Contest– how many can you get on a Laser before it capsizes?
Newspaper articles.
Open house at the “Yacht Club”. Offer food. Offer sailboat rides.
National “Bring Your Neighbor Sailing Day”.

Build your fleet programs–but don’t forget people move from fleet to fleet. The more the merrier. We need all the fleets to grow.
             Fleet instructors.
             Fleet repairers.
             Fleet loaner boats.
             Used boats for sale.
             Family participation.
             Women’s program
             Kids program
             Social events.

Fun sailing in the evening or other times other than racing.
Full moon sailing.
Sail canoes, catamarans, sail boards. Sail the cruisers. Charter in Carribean or Mediterranean.
Be active in the Community so people know you are there.
Community Sailing programs.
When money is short.....
             Co or multiple owners.
             Community sailing program
             Build your own boat or better yet, get a group.
                           PD racer
                           Cape Cod Frosty
                           Optimist pram
                           Pacific Pelican
                           Or one of Phil Bolger’s designs.

Add to my list.  Maybe we need help.....


Thursday, October 7, 2010


But not with the Spinnaker up.

Remember, sailing downwind in lighter wind.  Weight forward with radical heel to get the sail up into more wind and reduce the wetted surface.

 Think about transitions.  Avoid straight downwind. 

If you have some waves catching up to you, then dive into the deepest hole in front of you, pump the sheet and angle down the side of the wave to stay with it.

If you are sailing faster than the waves are moving, going around the big ones.

If you are not leading, what are the folks ahead of you doing?

Look behind.  Maybe you want to keep your wind clear. 

Look behind for more pressure that you might want to move to.

Wind increasing -- be a little more conservative.  Practice, maybe doesn't make perfect, but it helps.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Sarah, Where can we get pants like that??????

Saturday, September 25, 2010


In our local fleet we had one of those days when the wind was up and down and we needed to shift gears a lot.  In our discussions after racing, Tom McNally who was visiting and had dusted us off pretty well, said he had been adjusting his Cunningham a lot.
Thinking about that lead me to pull the Cunningham line out of the last two turns in the tackle.  It still has plenty of power to set up hard, but less friction, so when I let it off it really goes loose. Nothing new.  Good sailors have been suggesting that for some time. Yes, it really helps.
Tom was doing something else extra also that day, because now my Cunny works a lot better, but am not dusting them off yet.

PS.  Tom just called on the phone about another sailing problem and says he rigs his full for windy days and a turn out on light days.  Something else you can change between races.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Five ways.  Well, I started out to number some quick ways to sail better and when I got to number 25, I figured maybe I should make a really short list.  So here it is:

1) Get Ben Tan's book "The Complete Introduction to Laser Racing."

2) Buy the Advanced Laser Sailing DVD, but don't be intimidated by the fancy boat handling.  Just to let you see the stuff you can be practicing.

3) Try to get out practicing with a friend or alone.

4) Race as regularly as you can.  If you have not been practicing, then try to get out sailing early and/or stay late and sail some more.

5) Talk to as many sailor as you can after racing.  How did they do?  What did they do right? What did they do wrong?

6) Ops, but those 5 will keep you busy for a little bit.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Steve Cockerell (the Boat Whisperer) going up wind.  He called the last day of racing at the Masters a "walk in the Park".
John Bertrand struggled to stay in third for the regatta. Read John's blog "Bertrand Racing". Steve had been sailing close by this sight in England in winds in the 28 kt range.  So do you suppose it is just what you are used to doing?  Does practice pay off??

Notice he is sheeted out a foot and a half from the stern.  I think that is a compass on the deck.  He has his watch on this left hand.  Maybe he uses that coming back down the line on port and has another watch on the mast to look at when he is on Starboard.   Anybody know???

Saturday, September 18, 2010


John Bertrand stands up to look around.  Find the pressure.  Plan the course.  You can see things better standing.  John is sailing in England on big water and has his compass handy.  That takes a lot of experience to be able to sail the boat, keep track of the other players, and not be looking at the compass all the time.
There are two guys ahead of him today-- and I wonder if they are "compass guys"?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Laser fun turns to excitement and terror.

At the first day of the Master Worlds in England, Tillerman and a lot of his friends sailed the first race in the big wind and the big waves and then got the heck into shore.

No more “FUN” out in that stuff. More fun back on shore drinking Irish Coffee.

But our buddy Steve Cockerel of the “Boat Whisperer” was sailing in the stuff he loves. He had two bullets that day (sailing a Radial).

It takes practice to have fun, when the wind is really light and when it is really strong. The waves add more challenge. Comfort comes with more experience, a little at a time. If it is not fun– take a break.

(The drawing above is in honor of the England... Anyone know what it was going to be?)

Monday, September 13, 2010


Lasers and the Rule of Thumb.

The Last “Speed and Smarts” by Dave Dellenbaugh was on the “rule thumb” helps. He gave a list.

Rule of thumb is an old English expression perhaps to Judge Roger Thumb’s rules or the measurement of small distances with the last section of your thumb–about an inch. Now just the quick easy answer.

Most of the rules refer in some fashion to playing the shifts of wind direction. My most important one being “foot to the headers” which gets you some separation as well as on the best wind angle. The one I had not thought about before was “if you are going slow, change something.”

Actually David picks “sail the longest tack first” as the most useful and puts a new twist to it.

As you sail the longest tack and approach the the lay line, that tack gets shorter and the other longer. Now he applies that rule again, and sails the new longer tack. OK, that brings in the other rules of thumb, stay out of the corners and delay going to the lay line.

Nice job, David.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It would be fun to win the big trophy, but even Paul Elvstrom got “down” when he didn’t win. How do you handle the “not so good” racing finish??

The Rev. Robert Fulghum gave us some interesting thoughts.

“In an occasion in life, anything can happen. The great banana peel of existence is always on the floor somewhere.

Not only that, anything might go right.

Some times the unexpected is an unforgettable moment that transforms it to memorable.

The sweetest memories are seldom the result of planning.

Forget Fashion Shows! Forget performance!

Whatever happens gets acknowledge and included.

Whatever happens, we work it in!

Be there! Notice each other!

Sail through the day together.”

Thank you Robert!

Friday, September 10, 2010


                                                                                               Paul Elvstrom

Maybe excitement--- or bored ---- but always FUN??

Can you help me out?   Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hold onto the sheet!  How did this ever happen?

We learn from our mistakes, but how are we going to keep track and remember all of them?

1. You can keep thinking about them.

2. Write them down.

3. Get out and sail, so you can collect more.

4. If you have a coach, he is probably making a list.

“Smart Laser Sailors Keep Record” September 22, 2009 has check off list of many of the things you might or should check in each race. But at least keep a written note about the big mistakes.

5. Then you need to put the big mistakes together so you can review them.

6. Review them often.

7. Some will need practice. (Like leeward mark roundings. Or 720's)

8. Maybe organize into “Do This” and “Don’t Do This”.

9. Review and visualize.

10. If all that is too much work, just forget it –let us go racing just to be sailing with the other folks. Most of us are doing it just to have FUN.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Tom Slingsby wins in England and tells us how to do it!   The 22nd place in the Olympics in China gave him the instruction.  You learn more from your bad races than you do from the ones you win.  Now all you have to do is remember not to do all those dumb things....It probably could be a long list.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Two of our Laser sailors.    The one on the right has had some success winning various sailboat races.  He tells us, "half way down the the downwind leg you need to be thinking about heading not at the leeward mark, but to the left of it, to enter the zone on the left (inside)".  Waves and "pressure" may lead you other places, but always think left.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010



I am rolling a patch work of things in Chapter 10, so I get them in the record. It is time to get back to more simplistic sailing remarks.

Well, maybe I really don’t need to get back, because I think I have covered about every thing — but this stuff keeps popping up. We need more reminding. I need to be practicing some of this sailing stuff so it comes off better.

So to finish off Life Coach:

1) Drink 2 cups of green tea daily. Some stuff in there that is good for you.

2) Listen to music. (Good for the brain.)

3) Keep flowers around. (Probably ditto)

4) Brush and Floss –something to do with immune system. Then did you ever see our multiple world champion bite the sheet?

5) Visualize pleasant times.

6) Visualize perfect Laser maneuvers.

Monday, August 30, 2010



Don’t miss an opportunity to share thoughts and if necessary to forgive and tolerate. Yes, those bad dumb things, ideas and actions of others.

So you didn’t approve. So you think your way would have been better. Did you notice, that things don’t always work out the way you think they should?

Maybe you are angry? Anger is when you are upset with someone that does a thing that you think is stupid and it affects you. (Maybe if it doesn’t affect you , it is just funny.) Actually doing stupid things and making mistakes is how we learn. Remember? Did you have that learning process? OK, don’t be upset when others are learning. Education is a long road sometimes.

Take a moment to consider where the other person’s thinking originates. They might be right. They might be wrong.

Turn the problem around and go at if from a different angle, if you need to, but don’t miss the opportunity to forgive and tolerate and discard any anger.

Those hormones that are good for you will circulate through your whole body.

Will it make you sail faster? Happier anyway....

Sunday, August 29, 2010



Behavior modification and goal setting.

Sit down with a big pile of paper, pencils and erasers.

On the first sheet list these five areas- 1) Relationships, 2) Work, 3) Play, 4)Money, and 5)Health. List what you would like to do in each area. List and revise. Erase and scratch out.

On the next sheet write down where you would like to be with each of the five areas in 5 years. That is the 5 year plan. The next sheet after the five year plan is the one year plan.
The following sheet is the 6 month plan. Another sheet is the one month plan.
Then another sheet for the one week plan.
Now we are down to the one day plan. You might divide that up into Monday, Tuesday, etc. Whatever you think will work.

Review all this tomorrow and next week.
Change the plans if necessary.
Simplify if you can.

You are not perfect– just trying to get there. Keep working your system.

Welcome criticism. The Chinese symbol for crisis and opportunity are the same. Don’t be afraid to change the goals.
Close your eyes and visualize the long term results and the the daily activity of each.

Plan a reward (some special treat) for making a goal in a month or two months. Maybe something related to one of your goals. The carrot on the end of the stick.

Saturday, August 28, 2010



Enjoy your sexuality. You will find it linked to exercise, (increases it ) and to longevity and good health (increases it). The bonding and the touching releases oxytocin which increases attentiveness, ameliorates depressive symptoms, ameliorates pain, reduces stress hormone production, and improves immune function.

What’s not to like about it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Laser Sailor’s Life Coach Chapter 6...

This is a tricky chapter, because there is evidence that a small amount of alcohol may be good for longevity, but it is not clear how this is achieved. Is it some kind of stress reduction? Years ago the message was one drink was good, but more than that got quickly much worse. Now we have a suggestion of two drinks for males and one drink for female. More drinks than this quickly loses any advantage and sharply fall into various health and social problems.

This activity that was once against the law because of the bad effects.

This activity is still against the law for a certain age group. Then on a birthday, it shifts from being against to the law because it is so dangerous, and now maybe we can recommend a little on a regular basis.

How about bing drinking as apposed to one drink a day. I don’t know of any studies, but imagine it to be very dangerous, particularly when joined to operation of boats, cars and machinery. And if it is combined with other drugs.

Alcohol can be lethal in one big dose, but fortunately in that amount, there is enough irritation of the stomach that the subject can’t keep in down. Saved by vomiting.

Under the influence of alcohol we think we are smarter, but testing shows immediate deterioration of knowledge , judgement and coordination.

The problem in private and social situations is that a second and third drink are offered and/or pushed.

The social setting encourages more drinking . A sober or more sober participant may have a hard time staying connected to a drinking group.

Alcohol is an addicting and dangerous drug. Once addicted, withdrawal can lead to dangerous reactions, seizures and death.

“Black outs” can occur with regular drinking in that one doesn’t remember what happened during a drinking period. I had a friend, that after a period of sobriety, was so happy because he can now remember who he had a fight with last night and where he left his car.

An addicting dangerous drug. Life coach recommends “none” as the safest answer. I would not recommend small doses of any addicting and lethal drug.

Where does that leave the “dark and stormy” sailing community? I think they are seriously at risk.


Friday, August 13, 2010



Staying connected in the community and with friends is almost as important a factor in longevity as exercise . Humans are social animals and fitting into that mold seems to release good hormones.

Have some need. Have a passion. People that stay isolated fall prey to multiple diseases and suicide.

I don’t know of any study of Laser sailors, but they should fall into the group of passion and community. Keep sailing. Go to the races.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010



1. The brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. It develops more connections. It has more reserve in case it loses some function.

2) Stabilize the blood sugar. This is the only fuel supply the brain uses. Too much or too little is bad.

3) Exercise-(back to Chapter 1 )- reduces dementia by 50 %. Thinner people have less Alzheimer Disease. Moving and exercise increase hormones that are antidepressant and anti anxiety.

4) Learn new movements. That is different place in the brain.

5) Stay calm. Meditate. Pray. It all works. A little stress gets action and is good, but a lot does bad things.

6) Laugh! It releases good hormones.

7) Surround yourself with positive people– it is contagious.

8) Remind yourself about four good things that you are happy about.

9) Learn new things. Read a book. Learn a language. Turn off the TV.

10) Keep a Journal. A good place to write down the things that up set you and then forget them. Put in the happy stuff also.

11) Maintain memory. Review old memory to make it stronger. Review new things to make those connections better and associate them with unusual parts or action. Odd things help you remember.

12) Sleep well. 7 to8 hours. Nap if you need. Chemicals in the brain recharge themselves during sleep. Be short on sleep and the brain deteriorates.

13) In your Laser get you head down when you tack and gybe. Getting hit in the head is bad, bad, bad. Football player and Soccer headers sustain gradual as well as sudden injury. The brain is soft mush inside a rigid bone box. Don’t shake it up.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


To eat or not be eaten.

Chapter 3 Eat your way to faster Laser sailing.

Eat your way to faster sailing?

Eat your way to better health?

Eat your way to better cholesterol, blood sugar, heart, arteries, brain, weight and less cancer!

Take this in two parts. THE FIRST PART is just the general move to vegetarian diet plus fish. This has been noted in places around the world where health is better and people live longer. The Seventh Day Advertises have long been noted for general health and longevity with vegetarian diet and exercise. The sugars need to go. Sugars give a fast push to blood glucose which is not a good thing. Artificial sweeteners are suspect in the long run, so get along without them?

Saturated fat and trans fat need to change to unsaturated fat, like olive oil, corn oil, canola oil. People that are more worried about getting all the essential amino acids, allow some lean meat like chicken and turkey. Whole grain where ever possible.

Probably the strong influence of the industries associated with dairy, meat, cattle, pigs, hamburger, hot dogs, ice cream and candy, the good old American way, has helped suppress this information, but now with the march of obesity and diabetes across the general population the news is out.

THE SECOND PART would be the the overall sailors weight. To weigh more to hold the boat down in windier conditions, then build muscle mass. See Chapter Two.. Strength Building.

To loose weight to be faster down wind and the live healthier and longer life, then do “the first part” plus cut down on the calories taken in. Give up the extra fat. Consider the plan to take in 6 small meals a day to avoid the drastic drop in blood sugar from long times between eating, and the binge eating that often begins with the sugar drop. Count calories because calories count. Push the exercise. So now we have you concentrating on fruits, vegetables and legumes.

Diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids may help promote emotional balance and positive mood. Studies have shown that people eating more fish have better memory and less dementia. Omega 3 fatty acids are present in fish and thought to be at least part of reason so many fish eating places turn out healthy. Fish also turn up the problem of too much mercury. More Omega 3 in wild salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Maybe you can just work your way through types of fish, but often fish oil supplement is recommended. Then Omega 3 is present in canola and soy bean oil.

Animal studies have shown that 30 % reduction in the food that is given to animals lead to healthier and long lived individual animals. Translate that to human and we have the problem of how much to reduce the food intake. Not to starve, but to live longer and healthier. The people of Okinawa that seem to live the longest and healthiest have a convention of stopping eating when 80% full. The suggestion is at least stay thin. Laser sailors ought to be faster downwind anyway.

So what are the suggestions?

1. Shift toward vegetarian diet.

2. Continue with fish of the Omega 3 type.

3. Fish Oil supplement.

4.Take in less calories.

5. Get thin.

6. Think-- stop eating before full.

7. Eat slow.

8. Don’t skip meals.

9. Get the sugar out.

10. Stay with unsaturated fat.

11. To gain weight, strengthen muscles.

REFERENCES– “Road Map to 100" by Walter Bortz II, MD. ‘The Longevity Prescription” by Robert Butler MD. “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” by Daniel Amen MD.

“Prime-Time Health” by William Sears MD.

Friday, July 23, 2010



Get strong. You can sail often and longer to gain stamina and suppleness, but to gain strength you need to stress the muscles. Maybe best 8 to 12 times the most load you can manage. Then repeat that two or three times with a rest day in between. (8 to 12 reps with 2 to 3 sets).

More muscle makes bones stronger. More muscle burns more energy and helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. More muscle and strength reduces the risk of falling and helps balance.

Muscle fatigue results in more secretion of human growth hormone and builds muscles and stimulate the brain to create more brain cells. More muscle more brain.

Sign up for the gym, go to the YMCA, exercise at home. This is a big job. You can spend full time at it. So you need to work out a plan that will fit your life, but work out something that will increase your strength.


Friday, July 16, 2010


    The Laser Sailor and the Life Coach.. Chapter One.

In the picture is our local Laser PRO on the left and your “Life Coach” on the right.

We old folks need to be introduced to the idea of “Coaching”. Most of us are familiar with the Football Coach and the Basketball Coach. We called them Coach Jones and Coach Smith. We are familiar with the teacher, instructor, trainer, mentor, leader, captain, professor, doctor, lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, financial advisor, minister, police and judge. They all give advise.

Now we have the sailing coach, parenting coach, physical coach, family coach but/and what is the the “life coach” thing?

Slowly we have been learning about exercise, diet and a lot of other little things that add up to a long and happy life – but they don’t seem to be getting much attention, so maybe we have a need for someone to put it all together for you. Soooo, if you are interested, Laser sailors, here is your LIFE COACH. It will come in multiple chapters. Perhaps better to call it “life instructions”, because we will not be looking over your shoulder and making comments or reviewing your last actions like a real coach should be doing.

What has all this to do with Laser sailing? A smarter, stronger, and happier person is a better Laser sailor, maybe? What do you think? And if you live longer, you might sail more?

Start with exercising. Maybe the most important and most widely disregarded. As long ago as 1971 the German Ernst Van Aaken MD reported marked decrease in cancer in veteran long distance runners. (Figure out that connection?) Easier to understand how running and exercise helps reduce weight, reduces type two diabetes, lowers cholesterol, lowers blood sugar, prevents heart attacks. Stimulates stronger bones and keeps joints moving. Running stimulates the release of “happy hormones” that make people happier and maybe smarter. (The runner’s high after 30 to 60 minutes running.) Exercise simulates formation of new brain cells, something that a few years ago we thought didn’t happen at all. (You had so many brain cells at a young age and only lost cells after that.)

So RUN if you can. Walk if you can’t. Ride a bike if you must, or swim or dance or mix up the bunch. Apparently the body was meant to move and it does better if it is doing it. Do as much as you can. Start out slow if you need to and gradually increase. How much? As much as you can fit into your life. Skip the elevator. Take the stairs. Park further away at Walmart. When waiting, get up and walk around. Turn off the TV.

Maybe do the pedometer thing and go for 10,000 steps (4 or 5 miles). The 10,000 steps come from some Japanese suggestion. Not a bad suggestion, but not set in stone.

Laser sailors will hike longer, work the waves better, sail happier.

When you get past the age of 25 or 30 years, things and strength will start going down hill, but if you keep moving, it will not go so fast.

Listen to your body– if you walk/run and feel tired and sore , rest a little. If you get sore knee, foot, etc – switch to the bike which pounds less, or swimming which unloads the weight while you still use all the muscles. Back to run/walk when the soreness is gone or continue the other activity if you enjoy it more..

Get with your exercise.

Coming later in other Chapters–eat or not eat, think, friends, community, reduced stress, laugh, share, forgive, tolerate, learn, behavior modification, and goal setting.                                                                                                                                                                   

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We have had two Lasers with holes punched under the roll lip where the flip up on the Seitech Dolly rests. Maybe some one sat on the boat on the dolly with the flippers up? Maybe the cockpit filled with water and that punched it through..

I called Andy Levine at Tackle Shack near St. Pete. He handles the Laser things over there. Has he had any trouble? Oh, yes. When he sets up the dollies for the new boats for charter, he doesn’t put the flippers on. If some one buys them after, he hands them the flippers, so they can put them on if they want.

I have taken my flippers off and will do the same for the LESC youth foundation boats. The repair of the holes is not difficult, but you have to lay down on the ground, or turn the boat over to see the damage, or be looking for the leak into the hull.

Will hanging on the strap deform the hull. I will see. There are no hard spots, so I think it will be fine. The strap is just behind the centerboard trunk, so there is some support.

Does anyone else have some experience?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Lasers need water.

On hot days Lasers need to drink water. It helps to hydrate before going out. The April 2010 Journal of Athletic Training reported that a 2% dehydration before running gave slower times and recommenced 16 ounces of fluid 1 to 2 hours before and another 4 to 8 ounces 15 to 30 minutes before running.

In 2008 the Medical Society in Sports and Exercise found that cyclists that drank cold beverages before and during work out were able to ride longer.

No reason it should not carry over to the active sailor.  So if it is hot, start hydration early and if you can, make it cold. .

Friday, June 25, 2010


                                                                                                                                                                                  LASERS GO DOUBLE

If you want to take a friend sailing or to teach someone to sail, try to do it on your Laser.

Fairly easy if the primary skipper sits in the back and takes the sheet from the middle boom block (skip the rachet block), then the second person can sit with legs in the front of the cockpit. Primary skipper can control the whole thing. If you want to share, then it is easer to let a beginner start with steering and the experienced controls the sheet. Do it the other way around if you want.

If you want to have one of you steer and sheet through the rachet block like they were sailing alone, then the other can sit forward on the centerboard.

If the wind is light, then one sits on one side and one on the other. If you want to change sides when you tack or gybe then moving about gets a little more complicated.

If you turn the thing over, you have a lot of help to get it back up.

Monday, June 21, 2010


LASERS HAVE FUN. Comments on “ Be Your Own Sailing Coach”

A few weeks ago Tillerman had a note about life jackets and a picture of the RNLI crew with all his heavy weather gear and his inflatable life jacket. The note was from the book “Be Your Own Sailing Coach” by Jon Emmett, Copyright 2008. (The is a book written from England with the “kicker” and stuff like that.) Information from the Chapter on Starting was reprinted in the Laser Sailor, Summer 2009.

I have two earlier blog entries, a Long Coach and a Short Coach. I grew up sailing, when there wasn’t any coaches. Well, we had high school kids teaching grade school kids how to sail, and everybody else got in a boat and started learning more.

I got the “be your own coach book” to see if I was missing anything. Some Laser pictures and notes from Paul Goodison. Twenty chapters on things you need to know.

The first chapter is goal setting. Now that is pretty easy for Lasers and most of the rest of us. The goal is having FUN. That is not mentioned in the goal setting section. Nobody is sailing a Laser for a living, unless maybe they are a really good coach. The professional sailors, I bet, started out doing it for fun, and then turned it into money working on big boats.

Occasionaly I see our high school sailing team out sailing in circles and strange little short courses that don’t seem to be related to anything. When I ask, I am told they are just having FUN. We want to keep them happy.

Yes, when I started sailing, I just wanted to get the boat to do what I wanted it too. Have it under control. Sail to someplace and back. Make all the parts work. Take somebody out for a sail. When we first got Lasers and the wind was up, it was just reaching back and forth on that wild unstable ride. We weren’t racing just ripping back and forth.

So what can we do to have FUN when sailing? 1) Sail back and forth. 2) Sail backwards. 3) Turn over and then right the boat. 4) Sail fast. 5) Sail slow. 6) Sail to some place and back. 7) Race a little, like there is another sail boat and see if you can catch and pass them. 8) Join a Yacht Club, Sailing Club or Cruising Club for socializing. 9) Tired of just sailing across the harbor, then try sailing around the world.(I don’t think that will all be fun.)

Avoid too much wind and not enough wind Experience will widen that gap between too much and too little in which you can have FUN.

Maybe you want to sharpen your skills of boat handling. You might want to do some type of racing. That will work better in a one design class, where you can match your boat against one that is very similar. Do the Portsmouth or the PHRF thing, but you may get lost in all the rating questions.

One of the best things about racing is the schedule. You have a time to race and a place to go. You don’t go to the picnic because everyone knows you will be sailing. Then when you get out and sail with other boats you get a feel for what you might be able to do better. Because it is on a time and place situation, you will be sailing in lighter winds and in stronger winds than you would other otherwise. Your world expands.

Maybe you do just a little racing, expand your skills, and then go back to things that seem more fun to you.

Don’t forget. If you get into racing, that the primary goal is having FUN. Not fleet champ or that sort of thing. OK, win all the races, but don’t forget the goal.


So how much money are you going to spend to have fun.. How big is the boat. Where are you going to keep it. How often the haul out and how much does it cost. New Sails? New boat? Trips to regattas if you get into racing. Hire a coach.

So those are the best parts of the book.– Chapter 1 Goal Setting and Chapter 21 Money.

Now you judge of what you want. Spending money and time sailing, against the other things that you could be doing.

Will it “Save Sailing”?

It will, if sailing deserves it!

Friday, June 11, 2010


Lasers go to regattas.

Tillerman report a lot of fun on a “no wind” day at a regatta. He had a chance to visit more with local and visiting sailors.

A. I., one of our lake sailors went to the coast to a regatta and was astonished by the wave actions and problems with them both upwind and down wind.

A hundred years ago when I lived in Springfield, Illinois and we sailed on a small lake. We went to Peoria and Alton, Illinois to sail in the current of the Illinois River, to Louisville, Kentucky to be in the current of the Ohio river and to Winnetka, Illinois to sail in the waves of Lake Michigan.

You learn a lot visiting other clubs. They handle the races a little different. You meet some other sailors with some different ideas. You make new friends. You meet folks that go to a lot of regattas and people that always stay at home.

If you go to their regatta, they are more likely to come to yours. The number of sailors on the same course gets larger, more exciting and more complicated..

You will be sailing in lighter winds and in stronger winds, as you match up with more experienced sailors.

Get your lights fixed on the trailer. The bottom cover for your boat. The check list for things to take and use it when you pack to come home.

When you get home you can apply you new knowledge. Better racing. More fun.


Friday, May 28, 2010


                                                      In the March - April “Speed and Smarts” David Dellenbaugh tells us all about the protest stuff.

First the requirements:

1) Hail “Protest” loud and clear and promptly.

2) Big boats display a red protest flag. Not Lasers, they just yell.

3) Written protest delivered to the committee before the end of the time limit.

4) Show up at the hearing.

And then he has 16 pages of details.

I remember years ago, when if you fouled some one, you retired from the race and took a last place. After a while they figured out that that spoiled it for everyone with fewer people in the race, so they added the 720 turns and if you hit the mark, just go around it again. Then the mark thing got changed when they figured out that the early mark rounders were rerounding in everyone else way, so they changed that to “get out of the way and do a 360"

Then about 10 year ago a big revision to keep the boats from running into each other.

Before that, if you wanted to prove someone was not keeping clear, just hit them. If you didn’t think you were given enough “mark room”, try to hit both the mark and the offender.

Small boats usually bounce off each other, if they are going in the same direction. Big boats particularly with wave action, tend to have a lot of damage when they hit. So we had this change. We had a year of the “experimental rule” and then the big change. Since that rule change, the number of protest have gone way down. Maybe that is good, but maybe it is harder to learn the rules.

Now the new stuff:

Part 1 Fundamental Rule 2 Fair Sailing. “Recognized principals of sportsmanship and fair play” (Fill in the rest of that yourself.)

Part 2 Section B

14 Avoiding contact.- but not penalized unless the contact causes damage or injury.

15 Acquiring right of way.- initially give the other boat room to keep clear.

16 Changing course. ROW boat changes course , she shall give the other boat room to keep clear.

17 On the same tack, Proper course. Boat to leeward with in two boat lengths will not sail above her proper course.

So if you go into a protest meeting you always have that difficult job of deciding if the ROW boat gave enough room, sailing above the proper course, or sailing fairly.

Remember you are doing this thing for FUN. Try to win by sailing fast and smart and follow the rules the best you can. Things have been a lot worse.

If you think winning a big regatta will depend on you winning a protest, then get Dellenbaugh’s 16 pages. Then read the rule book a number of times. See if you can figure out what “Fair Sailing” is and what they mean by “clearly established”. When you read the rule book, it will help to read with a second rule book open, because in part 1 and Part 2 included in a rule is a reference to another rule by number 33 times (my count) and you will have to look up each one to understand the first one.

Now you will not really understand what they are talking about, until you get and read the latest appeals book.

For the ordinary sailor, I suggest Sam’s list of rules “howtossailthelaser” October 9, 2009 “Laser rules of the road”and with diagrams. Doesn’t cost as much as a rule book either.

Get out and sail the boat. Get your boat handling down, sail fast, play the shifts, and stay in the pressure. Don’t depend on the rules.

Talk about the rules with your friends when you need to. Occasionally you may have to yell “PROTEST” at some dummy. More likely that will distract you from sailing fast and smart, and if you get into the protest meeting you only have a 50-50 chance of being right.

Then remember coming up against those angry, obnoxious, dumb folks that fouled you is an opportunity to exercise you understanding and forgiveness. Make them your friends and keep on having fun.