Tillerwoman and I were having dinner one evening in Spain with one of the other sailors at the Laser Masters Worlds and his wife. The other sailor started telling Tillerwoman this long story about how good he was at tying knots with his feet. As his wife (also a sailor) and I listened and smiled he kept my darling wife rapt with the tale of how he is able to tie knots in his mainsheet with his feet while sailing up the beat so that when he reaches the windward mark there are so many knots in the sheet that it won't go through the ratchet block and he is unable to bear away.
Of course he was kidding. There's no need to tie knots with your feet. The gazillion meters of Laser mainsheet, sloshing around in the bottom of the cockpit in all that water from every nth wave coming over the bow, is quite capable of tying knots in itself without any human intervention. How does it do that? I mean, when I used to teach little kids in sailing classes how to tie knots it took them ages to master the art of tying knots that wouldn't come undone when you pull both ends of the rope. But a Laser mainsheet, supposedly an inanimate object, has the skills to tie itself into knots that can take almost half of a downwind leg for a knotmaster like myself to undo. It's a mystery.
But wait. Every problem is just an opportunity for some marketing guy to pitch a product that will solve the problem. I think Steve Cockerill was the first to sell a "non-tangle" Laser mainsheet. We all bought one. Ha ha. What fools we were. OK, I guess the Rooster mainsheet has a lower knot-tying intelligence than the sheets we used to use before it came along. But it quickly learned to tie itself into knots just like its predecessors. Ho hum.
The latest in anti-tangle knot-free technology is the Bzzz mainsheet from New England Ropes. I think the guys at New England Ropes may have discovered a line with an even lower knot-tying IQ than the Rooster line. But it's still pretty smart and can occasionally manage a double underhand truckers triple hitch without any help from my feet.
There must be a solution. Isn't there some way to dump the sheet in the cockpit when you sheet in so that it won't get tangled? Some Laser sailors like to keep all the sheet at the front of the cockpit. Others are back-endians. It's as pointless a distinction as that between the big-endians and little-endians in Gulliver's Travels, whose major political issue was whether soft-boiled eggs should be opened on the big side or the little side. I've tried both. The sheet wins every time.
So what am I to do? Is there a solution to this problem? Or is it like other unsolvable mysteries such as which came first the chicken or the egg or how does Donald Trump's hair stay in place? I surely hope not.