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.