Last month I spent a week at the Laser Training Center in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic and wrote at Just Another Week in Paradise about the structure of a typical day there. This post is a summary of the the first two days of sailing that week... and one day soon I might get around to writing some more posts about the other three days and what I actually learned during the week.
The first two days of the clinic the weather was cloudy with occasional showers. I see that one website about Cabarete weather is reporting that the winds those two days were Beaufort Force 3, i.e. a gentle breeze of 7-10 knots. All I can say is that it is possible that the breeze averaged over each of those two days was 10 knots. Unfortunately the actual wind varied between 0-2 knots and 20-30 knots and hardly ever anything in between - or so it seems in my memory now.
We sailed inside the reef on those two days and the waves were large and chaotic with occasional breaking waves in the middle of our practice area. It took me a while to remember how to deal with such conditions. (This is a euphemism for "I capsized a lot.") From time to time a squall came through, rain fell, and visibility dropped (especially for this old geezer who was wearing his usual prescription sunglasses that become almost opaque when covered in rain drops). Oh, I almost forgot to mention, in the squalls the wind was really honking - or blowing bananas off trees as they probably say in the DR. One of the coaches later told me that it was blowing 30 knots in the squalls and the coaches were discussing whether or not to call off our practice, but they reasoned that the worst that could happen was that our capsized Lasers (presumably with us grimly hanging on to them) would be blown on to the beach some distance from the Laser Center and that the beach staff would just have to recover the boats there and haul them back to the center.
Actually, once you got used to it, trying to sail a Laser in those squalls was kind of exciting. I'm sure it was teaching us something. Didn't Nietzsche say, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger?" Although modern psychological research does tend to support the opposite opinion.
Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes. Having "fun" sailing a Laser in 30 knots in crazy waves when I couldn't see where I was going.
So that was all good, but after a squall passed, the winds would drop to almost nothing. Now I don't usually mind lazing around on a sunny afternoon on a lake in a Laser waiting for wind, but in those waves there was no possibility for "lazing around." We were rocking and rolling, and the booms were swinging back and forth, but there wasn't enough wind to actually sail the boat. On the first day we waited and waited out on the water for more wind and some of our number were even starting to get a little seasick. On the second day it was decided to head back to the beach when the wind died, which was a good decision.
The first day was dedicated to working on improving our roundings of windward and leeward marks, which god knows I really do need to improve. (More on that topic if I ever get around to writing about the racing on the last day of the week.) And the second day we worked on improving our tacks and gybes which god knows I also really need to improve. Many useful tips were dispensed and many whistles were blown and many marks were rounded and and many tacks and many gybes were attempted.
I must admit that my mood is very dependent on the weather. Rainy days (but not Mondays) do get me down. And, at times, it was frustrating sailing in those conditions.
I hope Nietzsche was right.
And it did get better on the third day.