Saturday, December 31, 2011


Well, here we are backwards and rotated left and I don 't know how to straighten it out.  This is a drawing that we reversed to make a T shirt print, but if you tip your head and play with the reversed label I think you get the idea.  It has been that kind of year.  I lost my wife to smoking.  But she did pretty good--81 years.  Maybe more than a lot of others.   I can still sail the laser several times a week.  I live in Florida so that goes on 12 months a year.  I signed up to go to the gym and we will see how that turns out.  No New Years resolutions.  I will just follow my nose.

This afternoon and tomorrow afternoon we will have a "last day" sail in 2011 and  then tomorrow
a "first day"sail in 2012.  No big deal.
  I just checked and 120 people looked at this blog yesterday.  Hey, check in.  Just a hello in the comments!   Maybe I need a contest with prizes like Tillerman.
           I will make more posts, so just keep coming.  

Friday, December 30, 2011


The death roll or quick roll to windward on the downwind legs has been a long term problem.  The picture above is from Yachting January 1979 an article by Finn sailor Van Collie about fellow Finn sailor Edward Bennett of San Francisco. (I have all kinds of old papers here.) Edward practiced capsizes in order to handle them better.  Edward proposed to lie back in the water instead of trying to get back in the boat.  That unweighted the down side of the boat and helped turn up into the wind.  Van Collie called it “Bennett’s bath”.  In the old days when I tried it, it never seemed to work well, so now I try to remember the “boat whisperer” advice.
That is Steve going upwind in a radial.   Steve says to stop the death roll turn toward the sail. The rudder will dig deep into the water tending to right the boat and the worse that will happen is a gybe.  Get or borrow the "boat whispperer" CD.  Maybe I will get my rubber suit on (It will be getting cold here in Florida next week--that will be next year--check the date.) and go out and practice capsizes.                                                                            .

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


If you boat is upside down, you will not be sailing fast.  If there is a race, you probably won't win unless everybody else turns over.  Here are a number of ways you can  turn over.
Hiking strap breaks.
Death roll.
Vang on as you go around windward mark.
Stick the end of the boom in the water.
Dead downwind in big gust..
Roll tack with too much roll.
Hiked out in big header.
Result of collisions downwind.
Gybe and slow crossing.
Gybe and hook sheet on transom.
Maybe we will talk about the DEARTH ROLL Friday.

Monday, December 26, 2011


You may have read about Brad Funk's problem with the hiking strap coming apart at the Internationals, and in our last local races one of our local sailors, who will remain namelesss at the moment broke the line holding the hiking strap in.  He was just ahead of Sam, so I had a great view of his head first backward fall out of the boat, while the boat turned over the other way.  If we had a video, we could sell admission  to view the fun.
That leads to the list of things to check for wear on your boat.
Hiking strap.
Rudder hold down at the top gudgeon.
Sheet at ratchet block - reverse before wear.
Look for crack in rubber hiking stick attachment.
Traveler at the fair leads - maybe retie bowline
Out haul at the fair lead.

Maybe that is why, people with a big sailing budget just get a new boat every one or two years.

Friday, December 23, 2011


This is an old stolen picture from sailors in the North country with maybe Mrs.
Claus sailing her Laser. 
Not to be bragging, but maybe you would want to know about this. I just figured out a few days ago that my “how to sail the Laser” blog has a “stats” section, which I can look at, but I don’t think you can. My posts usually have no comments left behind. I don’t know who looks at it. I often think I am just playing games with the computer. Now I find that 50 to 100 people look at it every day. Wow! Last month 2,314. Wow! For the three years that I have been doing it, 46,634. Wow again!

The “stats” section also has an “Audience” world map with the USA and Alaska filled in in green and Europe, Australia and New Zealand stippled in light green. Who is sailing Lasers in Alaska?

“Traffic sources” include which is a very talented, prolific, long standing blogger on a variety of topics including Laser Sailing.---- but also the International Laser Association of North America has a news section with a list of 5 blogs with links. Clay Johnson, John Bertrand, Proper Course, Sam Chapin and Mike Leigh. So there we are in Number 4 spot.

My howtosailthelaser blog is mostly about Laser sailing which often can be related to any sailing program. There are some posts that would be of general interest particularly the 9 chapters of “Life Coach” in July of 2010 and the “Lasers have fun” in August 27, 2011.

 I know the Stats will encourage me to put more posts up.

Proper Course has been quiet since Thanksgiving and I assume that Tillerwoman and Tillerman are sailing in the Caribbean so we will be reading about that in January.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This is the picture that I used because of the big smile and it was the third World Championship or something like that.
The Number One pick was "Lasers Have Fun"  August 27, 2011.
We have a lot of talk about how to sail the boat faster.  How to be ahead at the finish.  How to be ahead at the start, but it really is all about having FUN -- not just about winners.
Yes, I think that was the best.  The others were a mix. You could take any of them.
Do you notice that I don't have many comments below these posts, but there is a spot where I can see how many people took a look.  Today 33 people looked and yesterday 102.
I am surprised and happy.
I will do more before the end of the year. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This is a big boat note.  Well, not this big boat, but look at all those sailors that could be sailing Lasers.
My number two is LASERS SAIL THE WALLY,  JULY 20,  2011.
This is a fine tune for the wind shifts to m ake you just a little faster.

Tomorrow will be my pick for number one.
I bet some of you can pick that one out.

Monday, December 19, 2011


This is Marit again.  She is beating up on the Laser Radials some more this week. As noted before, new boat (see the 200,000 number), polished bottom, clear start watch on the mast, big arms (no tiny girl), and the pile the hair on top of your head to help you hold the boat down when max hike. This is not about Marit, but I love the picture.

        The number three pick for the year is "THE LASER ELEVEN"  April 25, 2011.

I will try to be back tomorrow with NUMBER TWO..

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Number four is "LASERS START FAST"  APRIL 14, 2011
Nothing like a good start to get you out where you can work you plan.
If you have trouble moving out fast, review this and get some practice in. 
My pick for number three coming up tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Number 5 in "Lasers sail by the lee".  July 27, 2011.
More accuately triming, near gybe, has done a lot for my downwind speed.
If you haven't been doing it, you need to try.
I will try to put up my #4 tomorrow.
Check back.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Actually these are not Laser sailors but MC scow sailors at Lake Eustis
Sailing Club in Florida.
What a good looking bunch!
During the past year I used some material from Buddy Melges book "Sailing Smart"
and I group them together.
Lasers Look Out for the Rules... January 6, 2011
Lasers Sail Early ...January 10, 2011
Lasers and the Melges Start ....   January 14, 2011
So here are the scow sailors along with good advice from the son of the MC scow designer,
but that is another story.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Continuing the best of 2011.
I want to roll three together that are somewhat related.
Look those up and see how they are related.
Good luck in the New Year. 
I put three in the next group also..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Number 8 of the best of the 2011 posts is "Laser Learning"  on May 4, 2011.
That was new information for me and
I am always wondering and amazed at what this sleeping thing is.
One third of your life is done doing that laying down or when sitting up in front of the TV.
Number 7 is a little group coming up next.
Yes, I cheat a little.

Monday, December 12, 2011


THE OLD GUY looks back at the years posts.  Some of them are pretty good.  To start off with the three that deal with boat maintenance.
LASERS COIL THE LINE.  January 19, 2011   This is worth looking at unless you are an old hand at handling all kinds of long ropes.
LASERS REVERSE THE SHEET July 17, 2011.  When you do it depends or you schedule.  Once a year at beginning of season if you don't sail much.   Problem for us in Florida where we sail all year long.  Don't wait till you see the wear at the ratchet block.
LASERS POINT THE RIVET AFT. October 25, 2011.  Even the most experienced can forget to do that if you are rushed to get out to the races.  Come early and mark your top mast and bottom mast so you have to be looking at the marks as you mess with the mast and the sail.

I have twelve more that I pick out as pretty good.  They will be coming next.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The new year is coming up and you need to support your class and get the quarterly magazine "The Laser Sailor".   It is $40 for the year and send it to ILCA of NA, 2812 Canon Street,                                             San Diego, California, USA 92106   619-222-0252,  Fax 619-222-0528

I have temporarily given up on an index for the articles in this blog.   Too long.

Next will be my picks of the past year.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This is one of the first pictures that I put up to lead an entry. I lead all the entries with a picture now although the picture does not always go with the material. This our Fundamental Rule 2 Regatta picture with all three entries on a Wednesday evening sail.   I like the Fundamental Rule 2 monkey business because I really don’t know what that means, except maybe we are just supposed to have fun.

There is a lot of good stuff in the previous issues of this blog. I think we have gotten to saying the same things over. I printed out the whole works and I suggest you do the same. It is a lot nicer to have it in your hand so you can read it like a book. Turn the pages. Oh, yes it is all backwards with the early stuff at the end. Life is not always perfect you know.

I did the print out to be sure to know where it is. People act like this stuff will always be out there floating around in space. I don’t pay anybody for this and I have no idea who runs it. It does keep changing a little. Any minute it may all disappear.

If you are new to Laser sailing, find the Primary Laser Advice that is the first entry and then repeated at least once more.

If you do print it out, give me a comment. It would be fun to know if anybody does.


Saturday, October 29, 2011


There are a lot of little things (maybe not so little) that you can add to your sailing program.  Let me list a few.  Are your doing any of them?
1.  Be the first one rigged and out sailing to the course.
2.  Stay out and sail longer than anyone else.
3.  Sail more.  Sail more often.
4.  Clean the bottom of the boat.
5.  On a non-race day set the boat up.  Look things over.  Change what you want to have better.
6.  Make a check list of the things that you need to bring from home.
7.  After every race (soon after) make that list of the stuff that you did wrong and add it to the lists after every race.  Then review it regularly.
8.  Bring your rule book with you and maybe your appeals book.  Rules make the game.   If you have a discussion with your friends, you may need the rule book.   Maybe two.   See if you can find the May 28, 2010 blog "Lasers hail protest".  It is labeled  fun and rules.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lasers point the rivet aft.

When you rig the boat don't forget to point the rivet in the top mast section aft (toward the goose neck) so it will be in compression when you bend  the mast.  If you are in a hurry it may be easy to forget.  You can break the top mast with a hard roll tack, if you young and strong and the rivet is wrong.  
Don't just wait for the carbon top mast.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Big and Little, you need to practice those roll tacks.  They make a big difference.   And the tacks in medium and high winds are all different.  If you are interested is finishing higher in the races, you need to get in more practice time.

Friday, September 23, 2011


IF you are young and forgetful or old and forgetfu,l then you need a check list of the things that you need to take to the boat with you..

Here is a little list that you can add to or subtract from.  Write it on a card and keep it with something that you won't forget.

Sailing clothes.
Hiking pants.
Water shoes.
Cold weather stuff.
Sun glasses.
Boat parts you brought home to repair.,
Sails.  Light and/or heavy  air.
Extra tell tales.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I have been looking for a new suggestion to help us all out, but in looking back through all this stuff I think I should just pick out some important ones.

Time the line.  One of the four things to check before each start.  Not only will it give you a good idea about how to get to the other end if the wind changes, but a feel for how much distance you go in a certain time and how to position yourself with the rest of the fleet.  Sail other little distances and guess how much time and then check it.   Dennis Conner was always guessing and checking time and distance.

Try it.  Everyone needs better starts.

Saturday, August 27, 2011



The fellow above is having FUN because he just won this third world championship or something like that. Not many of us can do that, so here is my list of ways to help be “sure” that you have fun.

1. Smile

2. Expect it to be fun.

3. Dress right

4. Bring food and drink as appropriate.

5. Sunscreen- cloths, hat, sunglasses.

6. In adverse conditions, do what you are able and a little more (to expand your ability) then drop out if it is too much. Drop out happy. (Man, I don’t have to keep doing this.)

7. Say hello to friends.

8. Say hello to non-friends.

9. Give someone a little help.

10. Do a good deed that no one knows about.

11. Help others do the odd jobs.

12. Say hello to as many fleet members as you can.

13. Come early.

14. Stay late.

15. Leave any time you need to.

16. If there is someone that you don’t like, visit with him or her.

17. Show up. You can’t have fun sailing if you stay home.

18. If you have a “bad time”, start a sailing blog. It will be good material.

Now think about these things that light up the please centers in the brain. (“The Compass of Pleasure” David Linden)

Legal                                             Illegal

Caffeine                                         Cocaine

Alcohol                                          Morphine

Nicotine                                          Heroin

Food--- fatty, sweet, and salty

Actions                            Sex

                                       Gambling #

                                       Aerobic exercise #

                                       Relief of pain



                                       Anonymous charitable giving

                                       Positive social interaction. #

                                       Pleasure in new abstract ideas

                                      Maslow flow. #

# Perhaps present in sailing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Marit Bouwmeester  sails away with it at Weymouth.
Note the supervang, not much Cunningham, outhaul fairly tight,  Zhik but look at those arms (no tiny girl), Clear start on the mast,  200,ooo boat with polished bottom.

When you pile the hair on top of your head, it helps you hold the boat down when you hike hard.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This is Molly Forbes, granddaughter of friends in central Florida and member of U of Wisconsin sailing team. 
She is helping Andy Burdick win the A scow regatta in Minnesota.

  Hey Molly, this is not a Laser.  Sit in just a little.  The scows need to heel up, reduce the wetted surface and get on the narrower round leeward chine.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Doc Haagen Dozs made comment on the previous blog -- and I haven't been able to add a comment for two days.. (MY BLOG REJECTS ME.)  I hope that problem self corrects.  When I go on other blogs my comments stick, but not on my own...  

Say, do you like that picture above.   I may give you a long story about that some time..

       But Doc says he trims sail by the lee when it is windy on the Wylie cat 30.  My comment is "Wow! I would be afraid to be sailing that close to accidental gybe on a big boat with the wind up.   Maybe if the crew and helm are all experienced and ready to get the heads down just in case."

I would be glad to hear more about sailing the Wyliecat.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


After the races last weekend, David and Sam were talking about what things our fleet should do better and one of them is the downwind by-the-lee sail trim. Several have been letting the sail way forward and that really works to let you go way left on starboard tack, to keep the sail out and steady when the wind is light and you are adding the weight of the boon to keep the sail out. The down side is that if you don’t continue hard left by-the-lee air flow across the sail will be stalled out and sail lose power. You would like the air to be flowing fast from the leach to the luff and to maximize that: 1) Have a little twist in the sail so the top of the sail will resist a gybe when leading edge (now the leach) is almost back winded. 2) Trim in the sail till you get a little flutter in the bottom of the leach. Then ease the sail out just a little. This is just like the flutter in the luff when going up wind. 3) You need to keep the sail adjusted to wind direction changes or steering changes. If the wind is very light you may need to sit way forward and hold the boom out with your hand if the wind and heading require it. 4) Yes, when the wind is light you need to keep the boat rolled hard away from the sail so the sail is up high where the wind is stronger, etc.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I love this picture. It has nothing to do with "Wally", but she is really having fun.

 I have been thumbing through Bill Gladstone’s North U Tactics book again, and thought I ought to take another crack at translating the “Wally” section to Laser sailing. I don’t have a polar diagram for a Laser and don’t think we should add the speedo, wind velocity and other stuff needed to exactly do this stuff, but we generally understand that as we pinch upwind we go slower and nearer the windward mark and that as we bear off more (bow down) we sail faster but further away from the weather mark. The quickest way to get to the weather mark is a course in between and particularly sailing fast to the next header.

“Wally” was a program from the America Cup Campaign in Australia when they varied the target boat speed to the average wind direction and gained VMG (velocity made good) to the next mark when the wind changed.

Up wind if you get a lift, “Wally” says to bare off a little more and sail faster. You will increase your separation from your competitors so when the header comes you increase your lead.

Up wind if you get a header you should tack, but if you are pinned or have other reason to stay on the headed tack, then sail higher and slower to reduce your separation from others that stay on this tack.

Downwind if you get a header (the wind moves more toward you bow) Wally says not to bear off as far as the wind changes, but stay a little high and sailing faster so when the shift comes that is a lift (moving back behind you) you can gybe or go to by-the-lee or a  reach depending on how long you think the shift will last, what the waves are doing and all that other stuff.

Downwind if you get a lift, it is time to gybe or go by-the-lee, but if you don’t want to, then sail lower and slower to close the separation from others that don’t change. You will gain more VMG if you gybe or go by-the-lee.

Sounds confusing? Well, everything is not easy..

Monday, July 18, 2011


Two issues ago:

R. W.Rawles commented that when rolling the Laser well over to weather to be careful not to look back. 
Actually you will be half way turned and you need to look back to see the wind streakes coming down from windward (you wnat to get in them) and to check on the boats behind that might be trying to take you wind  or establishing an overlap to leeward (toward the sail) and the the right of way.

So stretch that neck and keep looking around.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


At least once a year or right now, reverse your sheet.  The sheet wears at the aft boom blocks and at the ratchet block.  If you reverse it occasionally you get twice the life of the line before it unravels and really messes up your day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I was trying to put in another picture showing that the more heal the faster the boat is going and that the people in the back are all sailing up straighter.   Wrong format so we have to use this one showing more heal on the faster boat.   Remember rolling the boat over raises the sail higher into more wind.  It puts the sail up over the miiddle of the boat so you don't have to steer toward the sail to balance  the force of just one saqil on one side of the boat.  Actually you should roll the boat over far enough so you will be correcting your course the other direction.  Rolling the boat up reduces the wetter surface when that is the main resistance and wave making is very small.   Suprizingly you should roll that downward curled edge of the boat into the water-- it will go faster then.

Monday, June 6, 2011



Last year “speed and smarts” went over the sail controls. Here is a picture of Melges 24 with controls indicated. On a Laser we have in order of relative importance the sheet, outhaul, vang and Cunningham. We have a traveler, but these days always set tight. If occasionally you want to point higher for a short time, you can pull the boom in and friction will hold the traveler in a little toward the center. Halyard and back stay are absent. Luff tension is all up to Cunningham and mast bend is shared with sheet and vang.

So here we go... Sheet to 8 to 12 inches from block to block at the end of the boom for light air. Put on enough vang to keep it there and if very light you can sheet out and bear off to get some speed while heeling the boat to leeward to reduce wetted surface. As wind picks up and you need to sit out to keep flat then sheet in to block to block. This tightens the leach and lets you sail higher, but also bends the mast and flattens the sail. When you sail out of pressure be sure to ease your sheet again to get more fullness in the sail. You will be working the sheet all the time.

Outhaul = out to eight inches of fullness from center of the boom to foot of sail for average going up wind. If you are having trouble holding boat down going upwind then pull bottom of the sail flatter. Increase to 12 inches going downwind and on reaches. Mark the boom end in inches or other reference, because different sails may be stretched more or less and not always pull out to the same mark. Reference you outhaul line so you can just pull or ease the right amount without measuring or looking around.

Vang off at the start so you can luff and stall more effectively. Then set up quickly just before accelerating at the start. Set for what you will need going up wind. See above for light wind setting. In Average winds only enough to accelerate when bearing off to duck behind a port tack boat when going up wind. When you get up to not being able to hold the boat down then you need to “super vang”. “Super vang” is to two block with the sheet and then pull on the vang as hard as you can. Now when you ease the sheet out the boom goes out mostly laterally and not much up. The mast stays bent. You can keep the boat flat in over powering conditions by just bearing off and sheeting out. When you are super vanged you have to duck low under the boom when you tack, because the boom stays low. When you approach the windward mark you need to get the vang off before rounding. When you are super vanged you will usually be going so fast it will be hard to get all that right—you need to get enough practice so at it is automatic.

Cunningham is to move the draft forward when the wind is up and the draft stretched back to the center of the sail or behind the center. Don’t use it to pull out the ordinary horizontal wrinkles in the sail as they are usually part of the draft. Cunningham off going down wind.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


When learning new skills   1) Understand that you need to fix something.  2) Work out what you are to do and go through it in practice.  3)  Do it enough so that it is "automatic" in your brain and you don't need to think out each step.

Studies have shown that one hour of practice a day followed by the sleeping--- when your brain is making these new connections, is more efficient than just a whole lot of hours on the water. 

Most of us can't sail every day, but it helps to know that even little short sessions help get to the "automatic".

Friday, April 29, 2011


Now just after we have been told to get plenty of sleep, this stuff about resting comes to the surface.  If you don't get proper rest after strenuous exercise, the muscles will not build in strength and bulk.  If you exercise too close together, the muscle doesn't have enough tiime to rebuild.

So now sleep and rest --- go to the gym occassionally and sailing occasionally.  

Well, how about FUN.   Maybe do what you like.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Well, yes, he doesn't look like he is sleeping.  Looks like cold water. Serious guy with watch on mast and one on his left wrsit.  Vang and "ham" on.  That is Evan Lewis who wrote the article in Spring 2011 Laser Sailor on sleep before sailing.  He tells you all about it, but in brief:

What happens when you sleep?   The brain reorganizes and inproves the recent practiced skills.  The muscles rejuvinate and replace glycogen stores.

Without adequate sleep you will get fatigue, irritability, mood changes, poor concentration and lose of patience.

Adults need 7 to 8 hours sleep.  Young and young adults 8 to 10 hours.

Get in the dark, the quiet, the regular routine, no food or exercise just before bed.   At a regatta, look for a good place to sleep.

Check out Evan's web site for more tips and Laser stuff....

Friday, April 22, 2011


The Eleven best ways to top finishes.

1. Nail the start.
2. Hit the shifts.
3. Keep the pedal down. (Keep sailing fasst)
4. Go to the pressure  (wind).
5. Stay out of the corners.
6. On reaches, high in the lulls and low in the puffs.
7. Inside or behind at the marks.
8. Get in the passing lane if behind.
9. Avoid confrontations-- for for speed.
10. Cover on the beat to the finish.
11. Keep track of your goals  --- to win the race or to win a series, etc.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Well, yes, that is the same picture Tillerman used a few days ago, but Paul Goodison has won enough races that maybe we should pay a little attention to any suggestions he has. Now I happen to have RYA Laser Handbook by Paul Goodison on my coffee table, so I just looked through it for maybe the “best” suggestion.

I settled on STARTING, but before I start copying from the book, I will tell you that in many many pictures the “clear start watch” is around the mast just below the goose neck. It is even there when he is putting the mast and sail in the boat. If you do that, you will need a watch on your left hand, so that you can read time when on port tack. Then you will need both watches running accurate. I would suggest getting perfect time, checking on your wrist first and then punching the mast watch. Then synchronize the mast watch with next signal.. I bet really good sailors have the time right on the button.

Then before the start Paul is “hovering” below the starting line. Close-hauled heading or a little below that with sail at full luff and kicker (vang) off. Just before starting to accelerate he reaches forward and puts the kicker (vang) on for up wind settling. Now quickly “jab” the tiller up wind and hike the boat to windward to turn the boat to below close-hauled course. Flatten the boat, trimming in some and heeling the boat to leeward as you come below close hauled. Sheet in more. Hike hard to flatten the boat and drive it forward. Once the boat is up to speed, trim to block to block and return to close-hauled course. Full concentration now on sailing fast.

Timing, force, direction and rolling all the little things together --- maybe will give you a better start.


Thursday, April 7, 2011


This is old stuf, recently written, but worth thinking about.

The WOW or words of wisdom as long as I had three wins on Sunday. Topics, so you can judge if interested at all--- 1. Windward heel--- 2. Roll tacks --- 3. By the lee sail trim.

Rob was sailing with windward heel whenever he could manage it, and making it pay off—speed and less leeway. The little lee helm that it requires bothered him, but not enough for him to think that it wasn’t working. I have done that before. The results are not spectacular, but a little better speed and height never hurts unless you are going in the wrong direction.

With the windward heel, the upwind side of the boat that is in the water gets rounder and downwind side in the water gets straighter. Now that is the same as the sail, but working in the opposite direction. A foil in the water working upwind and one in the wind pulling forward.

My 80 year old roll tacks are working better and I thought I was picking up a little on each. It may have been the wind shifts, but…. Turn up slowly into the wind and burn off your speed going in the upwind direction trimming in the sail and roll the boat hard to the new leeside as you turn to the new close-hauled heading or just past it. Ease out some sail, so when you rock the boat back up, you can pull in some sail to pump you forward. You should be putting half the side deck under water when you roll. As soon as you are back up level check the tell tales for fast up wind sailing. With a good roll I think you can take advantage of small shifts and avoid the lay line, till late.

If you think you need better roll tacks, then practice some. Buddy Melges STARTS his practice sessions with 50 tacks. If you can’t come to sail other days than race days, come early or stay late and do some extra practice. If you are practicing before the race be sure to hang near the starting line so you don’t miss the races.

Downwind I got away from Rob several times with careful sail trim by the lee. When you are by the lee, the mast keeps the trailing edge of the wind over the sail straight and makes it faster in light wind and more under control in heavier wind.

Now to trim the sail, get a little vang on but not enough to take all the twist out of the sail. Trim the sail in so that the bottom of the leach flutters a little. Hopefully the full sail at the twisted top will keep the thing from gybing. This is a little like the curl in the windward edge of the spinnaker when you are trimming it, or the luff in the jib when you ease it a little. Now ease the sheet a little so it won’t gybe with a little wind shift and then ease again to be sure you are right on the edge. Rob and Alejandro sail with the sail far out and maybe stalled part of the time. Do that is an airplane and you will fall out of the sky. Then don’t sail dead downwind. Off on some kind of broad reach. Tacking downwind or when the folks one the coast are working waves, I think they just do transitions from by the lee to broad reach and then back again to catch the next wave.

Then in that third race Rob and Patrick went around the leeward mark together with me close behind (a three boat race). They were covering each other and let me go off to the left alone and the three of us came together at the finish. The RC gave me second place, but it could have been anybody. I tried to shoot the line, but don’t know if that helped. It can give you and extra foot or so. (Finish at the downwind end of the line and go head to wind just before crossing the line.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The white haired lady on the right is gone and that has complicated the life of some of the rest of us.
I have 5 or 6  entries planned so I may be able to get back to that soon.  But maybe a little more personal stuff first.

MARJORIE THOMES CHAPIN died March 3, 2011 at age of 81. She was born April 12, 1929 and grew up in Mohawk New York, attended from the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Rochester, New York, where she graduated as class Marshall. She served as Assistant Nursing Instructor there for three years.

She married Dr. Samuel Chapin in New York City March 17, 1956. They have 3 sons and 6 grandchildren. They lived in Springfield, Illinois for 30 years, where Marjorie was a member of the Junior League, board member of Planned Parenthood, League of Women Voters, and the Springfield Youth Hockey Association. She is a member of the Springfield Youth Hockey Hall of Fame. She returned to college at University of Illinois in Springfield earning a BA in Literature and a Masters in English Literature. In Springfield she worked for the Area Agency on Aging as Nursing Home Ombudsman for the 12 Counties in Central Illinois.

The Chapins sailed from Island Bay Yacht Club in Springfield in Snipes and Thistle Sailboats and after retirement in 1987, they moved to Key West where they raced a J-24 sailboat. In Key West Marjorie was President of the Key West Garden Club, founding member of the Key West Botanical Garden, board member of the Florida Keys Audubon Society, board member of the Key West Friends of the Library, a Florida Keys Master Gardener, active in the Key West Power Squadron and the Key West Sailing Club.

The Chapins moved to Eustis, Florida in 2005 to escape the hurricanes. She was active in the Lake Eustis Sailing Club, Lake County Master Gardener, a Eustis Library volunteer, the Computer Club, several book clubs, the Harris Chain Power Squadron, the Eustis Historical society, the Trout Lake Nature Center, and supporter of the Bay Street Players and the Ice House Theater.

She is predeceased by her parents, 2 brothers, Frank and Paul, and one sister Marceline Vanderwood.

No services will be held at Marjorie’s request. She is to be buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


This is Key West habor--- no Lasers in sight.

This is not a Laser – How to Sail story, but the Navigation thing (challenge) from Tillerman.

When I lived in Key West, we made little deal about sending messages in bottles carried by the nearby Gulf Stream to England and France. So I prepared the bottles and one summer when the Gulf Stream was 5 to 10 miles south of the Keys, I went out in my 14 foot Aluminum skiff with a 15 horse power outboard.

Problem #1. I am on my way and the battery in my GPS died.

Problem # 2 My hand held compass that usually in the tool box has been misplaced.

OK. In the keys, a line of clouds forms over the warm water of the Gulf Stream. Go south till you are under the clouds. To go south in the morning, keep the Sun on your left.

Now you get under the clouds. The water in warmer. Put your hand in to find out. The water looks different. Sargasso weeds flowing in it. The birds, Mother Caries Chickens, flitting over the wave tops. You don’t see them near shore. A couple of 30 foot type fishing boats go by trolling for big fish.

Get the “messages in the bottles” over the side and on their way to Europe.

Now turn to home… Problem # 3. The Sun in overhead. Neither right or left. I could wait till it moved west, but use the wave pattern to pick out north direction. Wind direction can change quickly, but the wave pattern hangs on for a while. Trust the waves.

Leaving the cloud bank behind and after a while I meet the west going freighters. (They run southwest several miles out from the reef to avoid the northeast flowing Gulf Stream.) Going fine and it will be hard to miss the Continent of North America.

Then I start to pick up a light house. Right on target –the Sand Key Light house. No. Problem #4 strange Light House. Sombrero Reef at Marathon. 50 miles up the Keys. I have hung out too long in the northeast flowing Gulf Stream current and/or bad angle coming in.

OK, when following a compass course in from the Ocean not a bad idea to head right or left and then when you get within sight of land you know whether to turn right or left.

So I turn left and head for home, in sight of land.

PS. If you send a message in a bottle to be carried by the current, weight the bottle till it almost sinks. Our bottles were all windblown back to Florida.


Friday, January 28, 2011


This should be Lasers Stretch and have Fun..  Look at that smile..

Thank you, John Payne at JOHNPAYNEPHOTO.COM

I have finally found a topic to use with this picture.

If you have more flexibility, you will be able to move about in the boat better.

In Ben Tan’s “Complete Book of Laser Racing”, Michael Blackburn has a chapter on “ Sailing Fitness” with a section of Stretching. Basically he recommends “Static stretch” for sailors. That is a stretch of a muscle gently for at least 30 seconds. He recommends a stretch after a little warm up and then again after a work out and a third time in the evening.

Stretch should be gentle and depend on the time spent with a mild stretch and the repetition to produce more flexibility. You will be tempted to push hard and get it all done at once. That will only lead to sore muscles and delay of the whole process.

I pick out these stretches for you.

1. Hip bent with back straight . This pulls the “hamstring” or the muscle behind the thigh.

2. Then with the back bent, do the same. Now you are reaching for the toes and beyond.

This works the hamstrings and the back flexor.

3. Calf stretch. Pull the toes up with the leg straight.

4. If you don’t have two Lasers in the water like in the above picture, then the push up position on the floor and lower your body with your arms straight. This stretches the abdominals and hip flexors.

5. Elbow up with hand behind the head and reach down your back.

6. Hand behind your back low and reach up toward the
                                              other hand in 5.

Then a few that I add because I have trouble turning and looking behind.

7. Right and left body rotation

8. Right and left neck or head rotation.

Get Michael’s book and read more or go “on line” for a thousand stretches.


Monday, January 24, 2011


Good bye Jack.  You tried to get all of us to be strong and active.

A little bit ago, when we had some big wind and big waves, one of our Laser sailors turned over and had a little trouble getting back up. Then he just sailed home again.  When I talked to him afterwards, he said he just knew that if he flipped again he would be on the verge of being too tired so he sailed back to the club.   I think that was smart.  Know yourself.   Add the skills slowly if you need to.  But you need to be strong to sail competitively.

On the same note, a few years ago I visited with a Laser sailor who had been an accountant, but for family reasons had taken over a lawn care business.  Now he was outdoors working with his body and muscles every day and felt that his Laser sailing had greatly improved.

Get strong Laser sailor.

Friday, January 21, 2011


From the 1900 Olympic games, this is the "Lark" an entry in the 0 to 1/2 ton class.  I guess they didn't have any Lasers then.
Before we got to far away from the Buddy Melges advice, I want to record part of an interview with Robert Scheidt from the April 2007 Sailing World.  Dave Reed asks "In the boat park before a day of racing you're said to be very intense and focused, mainly keeping to yourself."

"I'm a quiet guy and don't like to talk to much before the race. I try to concentrate on the day.  I try to keep my routine before the race: washing the boat, checking the gear and going to the course early to check the conditions.  After each race I relax, have a quick discussion with my coach, and not think too much about the race.  I try to not  bring bad feelings in to the next race or the next day and deal with each race at a time.  If I win the race, OK, but focus on the next race.  If I do badly, I try to forget it."

Anything we have touched on before?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I come across a Laser sailor occasionally coiling up his sheet like the one above.  That means that he has put a half turn into each loop as he added it to the coil.  No big deal for a ten foot length, but any
thing over 20 feet it means a lot of twists-- that means kinks--- and now the sheet won't
run through all the blocks.

So if you just reach out for each loop with your hand open, and add it to the coil with out a twist, you should have one figure eight coiled on top of the next one.
Now there are no twists that you  have put in and the sheet should run fine. 

Happy Sailing


Friday, January 14, 2011


This is the last of my notes from rereading Buddy Melges' "Sailing Smart".

1. Start near the favored end or in the middle.  Simple, but not so easy.  It means that you have to keep checking the wind direction and guessing where the other folks are starting.  Buddy doesn't shoot for the boat end or the pin end.  Just near it.

2. Room to leeward at 10 to 20 seconds to go.  If you don't have Buddy's experience you may need to be practicing stopping the boat, holding position, turning cross wind and then back up to close hauled and stopped.

3. Hang close to the line in light wind.

4. Don't barge.

Now you can go out and do the Melges start.  Don't forget the bow even and then sail faster.  Have Fun..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


This is an Etchells start in Miami from our favorite Photographer.  I think that the right end of the line was favored from the look of the angle of boats crossing the line down close to us, but I imagine that the boats are tacking in less than 90 degrees, so it may be more even.  And there is a crowd at the other end.

We are still checking out Buddy Melges' "Sailing Smart" so we are going over more that you know all about...  Spend some time checking out the line as soon as the RC or PRO sets it up.
1.  Time the line.  That will help you know how to set up for the start and also help you get a feel for how fast you are traveling and how long it takes you to get from A to B.  Do it several times because the time will change with wind strength.
2.  Check for the up wind end.  Go head to wind and see which end of the line you bow points toward.  Check it with your compass.  Check the flags on the committee boat.  Check the angle you cross the line when you are closehualed.
3. Get on the line and pick out a range.  A spot on shore that lines up with the pin end.  Maybe a spot on shore that lines up with the committee boat end (the flag they sight the line from).  No shore in sight, then use your compass to get a bearing.  Maybe pick out a range from two boat lengths behind the committee boat.  Then when you are on the range, you will be one boat length behind the line when you sail up to the middle of the line.  Try that for a midline start.
4.  Check the pin for current.  If you are sailing in tidal stuff, I hope you have the tide tables down and some local knowledge and your local time watch on.

5.Check right and left laylines to the starting line.  Keeping checking wind heading right up to the start.

6. You want to know what to do next.. Keep tuned in.  That will come up next..                                                                              

Monday, January 10, 2011


Lasers get out and sail early.  Maybe half hour before the scheduled race start.  Yes, you have heard this before but we are reviewing the advice of Buddy Melges via his book "Sailing Smart".

He wants you to get out 30 minutes before the start of the race.
1. Warm up with some tacks and gybes. 
2. Get you sail set up for up wind and down.
3. Check for current at the marks.
4. Check the right and left sides of the course for the best winds.   Do this with another boat, if you can arrange it.  One sail the left side of the course and the other the right.
5. Don't forget to stand up to look for the pressure.   The good sun glasses helps you to see it.
6. Keep track of the starting time and be sure to be back at the committee boat before the start.
7. Yes, I know a lot of good sailors that just arrive before the race and can still win.... but not sailing against Buddy and the better sailors.
8.  You think this is too early, but if it is an important event at a new place the good guys arrive a week or so before to get some local knowledge and familiar with the conditions.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Thanks again to John Payne for the great pictures from Orange Bowl Regatta.

Now we are back to advice from Buddy Melges and "Sailing Smart"...   "My basic racing rule now is that I will never steer myself into a situation that I will know will create a discussion after the race... Any jam up can easily effect my race results no matter who is right."