Wednesday, January 23, 2008

If This Trend Continues...

Mon 7 Jan

On the second day of the Laser clinic prior to the Caribbean Midwinters in Cabarete, coach Rulo gave us a seminar on downwind sailing in various wind strengths and wave conditions.

There was much discussion of techniques for transition from sailing a broad reach to by-the-lee; merits of knee-up and knee-down positions; fore-aft trim; loose vang and tight outhaul vs tighter vang and looser outhaul; and so on and so on.

I am aware that the previous sentence will make no sense whatsoever to outsiders to the secret society of Laser sailors, but aficionados of the sport will know that such subjects can occupy many happy hours of discussion, not to mention spawn uncounted unending threads on the Laser Forum.

Just to round out the day of Laser technique porn, Rulo schooled us on the secrets of success for gybes and tacks in heavy air and light air. At the end of the session my head was spinning, and I see that I filled up six pages of my notebook with what is now an indecipherable meaningless scrawl. (Note to self: I should have listened to Miss Bush in third grade when she said I needed to work on a neater cursive writing style.)

Unfortunately the weather gods did not favor us on Day 2. It rained all morning and then there was little to no wind in the afternoon. No sailing at all today. So Rulo gave us a Rule 42 seminar instead. This guy is relentless!

However this is seriously bad news. Having foolishly bragged that I will sail my Laser 100 days this year, I had counted on 7 days of sailing in the DR to launch me on the quest. Now I am 50% behind schedule and if this trend continues (as they say on TV election coverage) I will only make 50 days of Lasering this year. Gadzooks! Do I have to plan for 200 days to achieve 100?

Oh well, look on the bright side. I will just have to sail one more day in the summer to make up for it.

Tillerwoman and I slunk back to our hotel, damp and dejected. Just as well that Ron was waiting there to console us.

7 comments:

USA 4 Steve Bodner said...

Tillerman-
Just like you I have recently relocated. This time to Amsterdam from San Francisco. Needless to say its winter in both and Im not getting much time on the water. I feel your pain, the 1st regatta of the season last w-end my hands were ready to fall off.
6 weeks of no training is 6 week of no training any way you look at it!
BYW- aim for 200- settle for 150!
Fair the well, enjoying the blog!

PeconicPuffin said...

Finally with the vang tension...I have waited for this! In windsurfing we often tighten vang (downhaul for us knuckleheads) and outhaul together, though they also work well independently. Do you get a broader effective range of sheeting angle with more vang?

Good luck with the 100 days.

tillerman said...

"Broader effective range of sheeting angle"??? I don't think so.

My main concern when sailing downwind in heavy wind and big waves is how to keep the sharp pointy thingy approximately above the big wide plastic thingy.

If you look at My Favorite Sailing Photo you will see that Gustavo is sailing with a fairly loose vang (open leech and mast almost straight) and a tight outhaul (almost no draft in foot of sail). Rulo was explaining in his talk that this works well for Lima and that he doesn't need to trim much in transitioning from broad reach to by-the-lee. But many sailors find it hard to learn to reach with such a loose vang. A slightly tighter vang and looser outhaul is more conventional.

At least that I think that is what my scrawled notes say.

tillerman said...

For what it's worth visitor #134,000 to this blog comes from the city of Kaunas in Lithuania and made his or her way here via a Google image search that found the picture of Ice Optimists.

Visitor #133,998 comes from Melbourne Australia and found Proper Course via a Google search on "how to sail a Laser". He or she spent 61 minutes here and visited 25 pages. Scary!

PeconicPuffin said...

Ah. In windsurfing there's no on-the-water adjustment of downhaul (vang), though racers (like Steve Bodner) will use adjustable outhaul. Both downhaul and outhaul strategy are factored in when selecting the size sail we're going to rig. Outhaul is the more straightforward adjustment...looser=more power but less top end speed and better for deep broad reaches, tigher=less power but faster and allows for higher close reaching.
Downhaul is much more involved...at the simplest level more tension=less power but more top end speed. But more downhaul also allows the sail to spill wind better in gusts, and is more forgiving re boom position when sheeting. In high wind sailing when sailor/sail/board are bouncing around a lot and there is less consistent boat speed, selecting a slightly larger sail than is necessary, and then cranking down the downhaul/vang is an effective strategy that trades efficiency for control. (That's one approach, though there is more than one way to skin this cat.)

I don't race, but I'm an enthusiastically fussy tuner of sails and boards. (There's no racing scene for windsurfing on Long Island, or I would...instead I dabblee in wavesailing, freestyle, and bump and jump.)

On a blog about windsurfing race gear there was recently a discussion about what is the best tool for downhauling, and what was the best posture (don't get me started...)

I hope that's not too much about windsurfing. Mostly I just wanted to say that I like reading about this stuff. It never fails to please me that I can pull on a rope that makes something happen fifteen feet away from me that magically transforms how the boat/board/whatever behaves.

Litoralis said...

The effect of the Laser vang is not the same as windsurfing downhaul.

Windsurfing downhaul bends the mast by tensioning the luff of the sail, causing lower leech tension and allowing the upper leech to spill wind. A tight downhaul results in a flatter sail with more available twist.

The Laser vang bends the mast by tensioning the leech of the sail, preventing the leech from spilling wind. A tight vang results in a flatter sail with less twist.

The Laser cunningham is the closest thing to a windsurfing downhaul, but due to the stretchier sail and stiffer mast on a Laser it cannot effectively be used to bend the mast.

PeconicPuffin said...

Thanks for the 101, Litoralis. Definately an interesting difference in how we change the shape of the sail.

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