Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lasers welcome Robert

Robert Scheidt  is back on top at the Laser Worlds.
This is Steve Cockerill going up wind in a radial and showing the  roll back and head up as you go up the front of the wave which will be followed by the roll forward and tiller up to head down the back of the wave.  This is Roberts signature movement as he is going up wind threw the  waves. 
Up the up side and down the down side with body movement to help move the tiller and the boat.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Lasers weather the storm.  Sorry about not putting up this stuff before.  Maybe a month or so ago we had a little storm that got everyone in our little fleet in some kind of trouble.  Not serious, but suggests this review of what you might do.

1   Safety position and for you old folks, that is boat across the wind, boom out at 90 degrees and luffing, center board all the way down.   Boat not moving and you can drop the tiller and think about what to do next.

.2      Turn the boat over and sit on the high side balancing things so that upper mast is about half in the water.   You won’t drift very fast and easy to sit out a little thunder storm.  When the wind moderates, right the boat and sail home.

. 3     If it is a broad reach or a run back to your shore, you can let the sail out in front of the boat and let it luff while quietly going home.  With standard length sheet you need to take the knot out of the end of the sheet, let the end go through the ratchet block and it will make recovery easier if you tie a knot in the end of the sheet before it goes through the boom block. Do this knot stuff from the safety position..  If wind moderates before you reach shore and you change your mind, you can turn quickly into the wind and recover the sheet at the boom block, trim and get going again.

. 4     If you need to go up wind, take the vang off.  You may need to undo it completely so that the boom can rise and then go up wind close reaching.  With the boom up the top half of the sail can luff and you sail on the bottom half.  An old friend of mine called that the “fisherman’s reef”.

.5      You can use the one above to get to shore if it is a reach.

. 6     If you sail to shore and it is not where you want to go, unplug the mast stuff, lengthen the out haul, turn the mast a few times  to roll up some sail.  If you take the top batten out you can roll put quite a bit of sail.  Pug the boom back in and adjust the outhaul.

. 7     If it is a hot day, turn the boat over and play around in the water till the storm is over.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


To win we say " nail the start, hit the shifts and sail fast."

To stay with the shifts, then    SAIL THE LONG TACK FIRST.
                                                 CROSS THEM WHEN YOU CAN.
                                                  DON'T LET THEM CROSS YOU.
                                                   LEAD THEM TO THE NEXT SHIFT.
                                                    FOOT TO THE HEADERS.
                                                     DELAY GOING TO THE LAY LINES.
                                                      IF IN A GROUP, OVERSTAND THE
                                                                               WINDWARD MARK.
                                                       VANG OFF BEFORE THE
                                                                               WINDWARD MARK.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Two things happened this weekend that suggests this post today, although it is pretty much a repeat.    My knee is still sore and my tacks were lousy losing a lot every time I tacked with some one and when I didn't tack on the small wind shifts I lost a lot on that.  The better tacks get you ahead and the bad ones behind.

The second thing was my copy of Buddy Melges' book "Sailing Smart" was returned from a loan and it is in that book he tells about practicing fro the Olympics.  He would start out with 50 tacks and then 50 gybes.  WOW!

When was the last time you did 50 tacks in practice?

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Before the race.

Time the line.

Time little runs to the committee boat.

Develop a better feel for the speed and distance in the wind and conditions of the day.

You will need this for better arrival and position on the starting line.

Dennis Connor often discussed with his crew members how long it would take them to arrive at a certain spot in an attempt to have a better sense of speed and distance.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


This is a redo of a 2010 entry, but worth reading again.
I have some other parts of the blog that comment on sailing in waves, but a recent “Speed and Smarts” is about playing the waves, so let me review what I know about Lasers in the waves.

Generally go upwind in the smaller waves and downwind in the bigger waves, if you have a difference on the two sides of the course without a great deal of pressure difference.

If there is current, then the above is reversed. When the current in with the wind, then the waves will be less with more current and bigger where the current is weaker. Current against the wind then makes the waves bigger, so in either case go upwind in the bigger waves and look the smaller ones going down wind. If you are sailing in tidal waters, it helps to know when the tide will change.

Going upwind with the Laser, when the waves are less than 18 inches, you just need to power through them. Bare off a little to be sure you are moving well. Don’t pinch. Tack in a flat spot.

Somewhere between 18 inches and 2 feet you have to begin to think about the old up the “up side and down the down side.” That gets you through the wave faster and gives you a little push going down the down side. When you do this you pump the tiller down (to leeward) to get the bow up and rock you weight back to help lift the bow. Then on the top of the wave, pull the tiller toward you and rock your weight forward to help get the bow down. These moves can be quite vigorous when the waves are steep and short . Robert Scheidt, recent great Laser sailor moved to Stars, could be picked out of a fleet by his radical movement.

Dellenbaugh divides the waves up into 1) Normal wind for waves. 2) More wind than waves. 3) Less wind than waves. 2) happens when the wind is increasing and it gives you more power to trim tighter and sail higher. In 3), you power up and bear off. Don’t pinch. In any of the cases you need to be sure you are moving through the waves and not being stopped. You need to manage them better than you competitors. If not, see if you can tell what they are doing.

Try and stay in clear air, tack in the flat spots, or just before the wave so that the waves pushes you bow around, instead of stopping you. Be careful with close maneuvering as everyone has less control.

You need a clear air lane more with waves.

Not all waves are the same, so you have to keep watching ahead. Some waves can just rise up ahead of you as forces below the surface join. Some will need powering through and some worked up and down. If you are going to stick your bow into one, then let the boat heel and dump as much of the water as you can, so that you don’t get all the water in the cockpit.

If you sail on a small lake and don’t have bigger waves, then you may want to take some long visits to places that have them. It takes practice working alone and then sailing beside someone so you can make some judgment about your technique. Every day will have a little different set of waves, so get out to the race course early and get the rhythm down before the races start.

Dellenbaugh says that usually the waves are the same on both tacks, but occasionaly skewed.
My experience is that they are almost always lopsided with one tack more square into the wind and one more at an angle. Either the waves are changing as they move along the bottom or the wind shifts and the waves have not yet. If you are going square into the wave, bear off more and take it a little on diagonal. The changing angle to the waves will also help you pick up the wind shifts, as the waves will take a long time to change angles.

Motorboat waves should be worked the same. Power through the smaller, up and down the bigger and take them at an angle if coming on square.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Get out on the water more.

Tack, gybe, round marks, stop and start.  Don’t just go for long reaches.

Get some of the Laser books.

Get some of the Laser DVDs.

Get in as many of the races as you can.

Try to sail against folks better than you.  Ask them for help.

Get to the gym.

Ride your bike.

Move your weight nearer 170 to 180 pounds.

Do you have other thoughts??

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Now this is the old man himself sailing with his winter life jacket (an old Musto they don't make anymore).  Note that the hat is held on with strong cord seen just in front of his left ear and secured with a slider just under his chin and the rest of the cord forming a wide "C" hanging down from his chin.  With this arrangement and the cord tight the hat doesn't blow off or fall off if brushed by the boom.  I can swim under the boat in a San Francisco roll and come up with my glasses and hat still on. 

I don't see this kind of thing on  pictures of the really good guys, but have some friends that are seen going back to pick up their hat during a race. 

So think about keeping your hat on.

Friday, June 28, 2013


This is a redo of the March 24, 2008 light wind.  Sailing is a little harder at the high wind side and the low wind side.  You need to work on both. So let us review the light air end.

There is some list monkey business that the blog guys put in.  Try to ignore it because I can't figure out how to edit it out.

 Get some good polarized sunglasses that help you see the ripples on the water.  
Stand up now and look around.  You can see the ripples better from standing.  Practice standing up and still sailing the boat fast and in good control.

Be careful in the middle of the course as the wind may be coming in from the sides.

Going upwind when it is really light reduce wetted surface (you are not making waves anymore) so move up on the centerboard or just behind the mast and heel the boat to leeward.  How far forward?  The rules day you can’t sail from in front of the mast, so someone was making it work from there.  You need to keep the boat moving, so maybe a little vang to keep the boom 10 or 12 inches from block to block and let the boom out past the transom and bear off to close reach and see if you can’t keep the boat moving.

Going downwind sail the hot angles by the lee or broad reach, not straight down wind.  Do your transitions from with plenty of heel to help you steer.  It may speed you up, but you  do it to steer.

On the run, when in doubt, heat it up by sailing higher.

Smooth turns.  Use less rudder.

Going downwind sit forward with lots of heel to windward to get the sail up higher where there is more wind...  If there is not enough wind to hold the sail out maybe you can sit further forward and hold the boom out.   When it is that light you can push the boom out past 90 degrees so when you heel gravity will hold it out.

So now when they say there is not enough wind to sail, go out and see if YOU can.

Monday, June 24, 2013


This is old stuff but it keeps coming up.  As you are going into the leeward mark, if you have a boat to the left of you with some overlap try to carry them to the left so when you make a sharp right turn to enter the three boat circle (45 feet -  pace that off on shore so you can see what it looks like)  you can call "No Overlap".  Of course if they are on starboard, you will only be able to take what they give you.

If you get caught on the out side do something to slow down so you can follow them around.  Not to close, maybe three or four feet.   You are overtaking boat and as they slow in the turn you have to keep clear.  If they mess up the turn you can sail over them or at least you can tack when you are ready.  To slow down, sharp turns work  best.  If you get caught on the outside of the turn you will have bad air and not able to tack.

Now if you have a long weather leg, sail the course.  If it is a short beat to finish, then quick decide if you can beat the guy ahead and split with him or do you need to stay ahead of someone behind, then cover them..

Every race we learn something new or old.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


This is not the one boat race, but a great gal sailing a 4.7 rig at the Lake Eustis Sailing Club in Florida.
The local MC scow group tried to have a Wednesday evening race here at LESC, but only two boats came and they had no race.  If they only had one boat come they should have had a race and then passed the word. 
The folks that didn't come would then know they should have made it.  With no race, those folks would say "I did the right thing.  Stayed home."  
They had two boats.  Wow, a match race that they missed.
I have done the one boat race a number of times, but not recently.   Our Laser fleet at LESC is in its sixth year and the past winter season (September to May) we had 29 sailors and the year before we had 21 sailors.   This past year we had 163 races.  Fewest boats was four and most 14.  Of the 29 sailors this past year 16 were adults, 13 youth, and 6 women. We are still stuggling to get more out.  We haven't had a one boat race yet, but we will if we have to.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


A friend told me today that he had been writing down the good and bad things he did during our races.
I looked through my primary advice to pick out the most important--- I can't decide.  There are so many things about sailing a Laser that you need to know. 
So this is what my friend had for Sunday.  1) Get the vang off before the windward mark. He didn't and got in trouble.  To turn down wind when the wind is up you need to ease the sheet and heel the boat to weather to help the turn,  If you have much vang on this old man tries to get it off before I get to the mark.  You are sailing fast and want to have it off before you reached the mark.
2) Enter the leeward mark wide so you can pass by the leeward mark close enough to touch it and be close hauled. He picked up a boat there because he had been practicing the leeward mark rounding.
So help yourself, there is a lot to learn AND TO PRACTICE.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Get started again.

This is a picture of the old fellow coming off a plane when he was sitting way back in the boat to get the bow up and mostly planing on the flatter aft section of the hull.  I have moved up a little, but need to get further forward. Old guys move slower.  I should have had more vang on to get  more out of the sail.  That's a problem when people are taking your picture. You see all that dumb stuff.

We had a Sunfish show up at our club and I got Will White's "The Sunfish Book" out to check some of the measurements and then stopped in on the chapter that was an interview with my son David who told him "I am always working the sheet a little bit.  When I slow down I ease it out a little.  Then I trim in and sail a little higher or a little faster.  In general I don't think  pointing pays.  You have to be aware of the boat speed you are losing.  Some guys sail higher and if the wind doesn't shift, when you tack you will come back together.  If you sail into a header you will be ahead when you tack.   If you get lifted then you you where going the wrong way.  Try to foot to the headers."

David has won a lot of races, so it is worth thinking about.

Foot to the headers is all old stuff, but I need to think more about keeping the speed up.  Need to do that in practice so it is automatic during the races.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


This blog thing is amazing.  My “How to Sail the Laser. Blogspot.com” draws 50 t0 100 hits a day.  They look at a variety of topics extending back several years.  And this is where the most recent visitors are from: 

USA    126

UK        50

Russia 30

Australia 25

Denmark 14

Singapore 13

France   7

Sweden   7

Italy          6

Pakistan   6

Tuesday, January 1, 2013



THIS YEAR I WILL CONTINUE TRIPS 3 TIMES A WEEK TO THE GYM. I have done the last 13 months.  It has not been easy, because when it get easy we notch it up a little.  I think it helps, but there is just one of me --so no controls.

THIS YEAR I WILL TRY TO GET MORE SAILING IN DURING THE WEEK.  Pretty soon I will be off to the lake for the first sail of 2013.

THIS YEAR I WILL TRY TO GET AN OCCASIONAL ENTRY IN THIS BLOG.  The old stuff is pretty good.  I just need to read back through it myself.