JP, the author of Captain JP's log has been trying out a Laser and has some questions about Laser sailing...
One thing I've noticed is not everyone sails the same way: for example during tacking when does the tiller flip from behind the back - before or after? In the lesson we were told tack first then get the tiller on the right side but my nephew flips it over before the tack and says that's how he was taught.
Not sure if you're talking here about flipping the tiller extension to the new side, or swapping sheet and tiller hands.
Don't flip the tiller extension to the new side before the tack. Hold it in the natural position that you have been holding it for beating as you go into the tack.
As for the swap of sheet and tiller extension to the new hands, the way that's usually taught is to do the hand swap after you have crossed to the new side of the boat. That's what Ben Ainslie describes in his book. But in Ben Tan's book, the chapter on tacking shows the hand swap being done behind the back as the sailor crosses the boat. I think I do both in different circumstances. I've never heard of anyone swapping tiller and sheet hands before the tack.
Also which method is best for pulling lots of sheet in at once - wrap round knee or tiller? Which do you use or does it vary by circumstance or preference?
Knee? Tiller? Neither. Don't use your teeth either. (I've seen people do that too.)
The way to sheet in is to use both hands. With practice you can grab the sheet near the block with your tiller hand (while still holding the end of the tiller extension). Lift that hand upwards pulling in several feet of sheet (of course while steering straight at the same time). Then grab the sheet near the block with your sheet (front) hand and pull in several more feet. Repeat, alternating each hand. Of course you need a tiller extension long enough to be able to reach to the block without dropping the extension.
Both of these techniques, the hand swap and sheeting in, can be practised on dry land if a student is finding them difficult. When I was teaching kids to sail Optimists (that require exactly the same methods) we always went through these techniques on the land first.
Hope that helps. Any more questions, class?