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..

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