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.