However when I watched a true expert do a roll tack I sometimes suspected that my roll tacks weren't quite right but I never did figure out why. The first inkling of what was wrong came at the clinic in Cabarete a couple of years ago when coach Brett Davis talked to us about such radical (to us) ideas as maximizing distance to windward in the tack, keeping the sail drawing all the time, not doing a "pre-heel", and not forcing the boat to roll to heel to windward with an aggressive body movement. Brett's advice was simply to let the boat come up into the wind while maintaining your body in its normal upwind position, and then as the boat comes through head to wind just letting the roll happen naturally.
Points of clarification...
- If Brett is reading this... sorry if I mis-stated what you said. Hey, it was two years ago and my memory isn't what it used to be.
- I said "us" rather than "me" in the above paragraph because there was at least one Laser sailing god there who also found some of Brett's advice to be new information to him. Hey, I'm not the only old geezer Laser sailor who was never taught how to do a roll tack properly.
So I tried to change my roll tack approach. At the Sailfit clinic last year Kurt Taulbee reinforced the same points, along with some other tweaks to my roll tack technique which would only confuse this post if I tried to cover them too. Another day perhaps.
So what I discovered was that that this "just sit still and let the roll happen" worked fine above a certain wind speed. Once the wind caught the other side of the sail it induced the roll and Bob's Your Uncle. Is that an expression familiar to anyone outside the UK? Never mind. You get the point. (Actually Bob is my uncle. I had two Uncle Bobs in fact. Both deceased now.)
Where was I? Where am I ? Where is this post going?
Anyway, the problem I discovered with this "wait for it" roll tack method is that in very light winds the roll didn't happen. So then I ended crossing the boat with my hand pulling on the old leeward rail trying to induce a roll that I knew was too late and all wrong and it felt ugly but hey what the hell I have to make the boat heel somehow so that I can then flatten it and get some kind of acceleration on the new tack.
Are you still there? Does this make any sense?
Anyway, at the Sailfit clinic last week coach Kurt Taulbee spotted my problem and explained that if the boat isn't rolling then I need to do a "shoulder bump". A "what"? Kurt explained that a shoulder bump is a sharp backward (outboard) movement of the shoulders to induce the roll, after which of course you have to move your body across the boat in the opposite direction to which you just "bumped". Hmmm.
So I tried doing some "shoulder bumps". But Kurt explained I was doing them too early. I'm supposed to wait until the boat reaches head to wind and the sail is no longer drawing and then do a quick "bump" to pump the sail and induce the roll and then cross the boat.
Point of clarification: if Kurt is reading this... sorry if I mis-stated what you said. Hey, it was two weeks ago and my hearing isn't what it used to be.
Anyway, I tried. But the habits of 25 years are hard to break. The problem is that my brain knows that the boat will roll on top of me if there were only a couple more knots of wind so it's counter-intuitive to make it roll harder especially as I then have to move my aching old body back inboard in the opposite direction from the "shoulder bump".
But I'll get there. I will.
New objective for solo practice session this summer: master the shoulder bump.
Is this post more or less wonkish than Tuesday's?
Hello? Anybody there?