The second day of my Advanced Laser Course at Minorca Sailing was all about upwind sailing. Tom, the instructor, gave me a lot of tips on upwind technique of which the most important, I think, was to hold the sheet with my sheet hand in front of my chest (close to the tiller hand.) With the hand this high, and arm bent, it is then relatively easy to ease the sheet in the gust by straightening the arm. If you sail with the hand closer to the block, the only way to ease the sheet is to let go of it, which is somewhat lacking in control and may end in disaster.
We did some long upwind speed testing, and Tom said he thought my upwind speed was pretty good. (I think he was being polite.) We ended the morning with rabbit starts and wind sprints and some drills designed to cause maximum mayhem at windward and leeward mark roundings.
A huge thunder and lightning storm blew across the bay during lunch and we set off for the afternoon Laser races in a wind of 18-21 knots gusting to 27. I won the first race when my closest competitor capsized downwind. He won the second race when I capsized twice attempting heavy air gybes. On both occasions I ended up in the water and reminded myself the hard way that I am sorely lacking in arm strength for pulling my fat old frame on to the daggerboard. Along with Tom's recommendation about how to hold the sheet (which is also tiring on the upper arms) I now know I do need to get back to some more serious weight work this winter. LASERS LIFT WEIGHTS as Sam Chapin would say.
There was a video debrief of the racing which thankfully didn't dwell too long on my ignominious capsizes and painfully slow capsize recoveries. Then it was off with Tillerwoman for pizza and a bottle (at least) of Rioja at Ca Na Marga. And so to bed...