Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Laser Sailing in the BVI


I think I have mentioned before on this blog that Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI is about the only place in the world where my wife will actually come sailing with me. No amount of logic will convince her that sailing with me in Minorca, or even in Rhode Island in the height of summer, would be just as warm and enjoyable. Must be something magical about BEYC.

So it should be no surprise to learn that when we went back to BEYC last December I took every chance I could to go sailing with Tillerwoman on every occasion that she was interested in doing so. More on that in another post perhaps. But I did manage to fit in five half-days of Laser sailing too.

When we first went to BEYC back in the early 90's the Laser seemed to be the small boat of choice for visitors who sailed many different kind of craft back home. There was always a good turnout of Lasers for the Sunday races. But the Hobie Waves and Getaways seem to have taken over that niche at BEYC now. Maybe they are easier to handle for folk who sail keelboats back home? Maybe the clientele is older? Whatever the reason, nobody (except me) was interested in racing Lasers on this trip. So it was an opportunity for some solo practice.

On our first full day I took Tillerwoman out for a spin round the bay on a Hobie Wave in the morning and then went down to the Watersports Center after lunch and said I wanted to take out a Laser. The first member of staff I asked simply told me that it was too windy and they weren't letting clients go out in any "boats with booms" that day. (I later discovered that someone had suffered a nasty head injury from a boom in the previous week.) But it didn't look too windy for me. So I argued. Don't you know who I am? Just Google "best sailing blog on the planet." (No, not really.) Eventually a more senior instructor who remembered me from previous visits relented and allowed me to go out and die on a Laser if I really wanted to.

So I had a blast around the bay for a couple of hours, getting used to sailing a Laser with 1970's vintage rigging. A Classic Laser as I wrote about a few years back.

After a few days of hiking (hills not Lasers) and catamaran sailing with Tillerwoman (all the while thinking how much fun Lasering would be in the relatively heavy winds on those days) I got back into a Laser again one afternoon and did a practice session concentrating on proper hiking style which god knows I need to improve, trying to remember everything covered in the webinar from Coach Rulo a few days before our trip.

The next day the winds were light, so for my 62nd day of Laser sailing in 2012 I went out and practiced light air gybes and tacks and mark roundings, all of which god knows I need to improve too.

Then there was a lazy Saturday of swimming and sunbathing with Tillerwoman, followed by Sunday racing on a Hobie Wave (about which I will have to write about in another post so I can brag a bit.) On Monday morning I even tempted Tillerwoman out for a sail on a Rhodes 19 and then went Lasering in the afternoon. More futile attempts to improve hiking technique and downwind technique. Played around trying to do gybes by crossing the boat before the boom like I saw Brad Funk do in a video somewhere. And more futile attempts to improve how I time the hand swap in tacks.

On our last day we had a good breeze in the morning so I went out for a final blast in a Laser and tried to practice a bit of all of the above. One of the resort photographers came out in a boat and started shooting me so I started posing for the camera and hiking as hard as I could.

"That's impressive. I can't do that!" shouted the photographer over the noise of the wind.

"Neither can I for very long. Hurry up and take the bloody shot."

The least bad photo he took is the one at the top of this post. God knows I need to improve.

And so to the Crawl Pub for a lunch of fish tacos and a few cold draft beers, during which I managed to injure my thumb on a chair.

It was kind of ironic that after 10 days of watersports my worst injury was suffered in a pub.

17 comments:

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

More detail is needed here. Were you swinging the chair, or practicing hand swaps?

Tillerman said...

The arm of the chair just suddenly attacked me. I can think of no other explanation.

O Docker said...

Great post about drinking beer in a pub. You should do more like this, but shorten the distracting introduction.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for the feedback and literary criticism Mr. Docker. I should be more like you and totally resist the temptation to ever write about sailing on my sailing blog.

Keep Reaching said...

Nice photo - but why is the kicker so loose?

JP said...

Nice shades - was they part of a sponsorship deal for "the best sailing blog on the planet". If not, why not?

Tillerman said...

Because it's a classic Laser with the old style vang and even though I would snug it up to block to block it always gradually eased. I don't remember that being a problem in the old days (but I seem to remember we sailed with the block with the jam cleat at the top in the early 80s when I started.)

Having said that, there are some folk who sail with a loose vang upwind even today, but I'm not one of them.

For anyone confused by the terminology, "kicker" is real English for what Americans call "vang."

Tillerman said...

Of course they was. Check out the post about my 67th sail in 2008.

O Docker said...

I've found that approach works better for me.

But look at a simple statistical analysis of the comments posted here so far. Two comments about your time in the pub, one about your shades, and one about sailing technique. Clearly, 75 per cent of the blog commenting public prefers to discuss non-sailing topics. And that's before any famous sailing journalists like Buff Staysail have weighed in.

I did find your most interesting remark was about the vang/kicker dichotomy. I never realized that was one of those Brit/American English things. I always thought it was one of those geeky, straight-laced/macho badass things.


Tillerman said...

Based on the number of comments per post on this blog so far this year, it would appear that this post about running was the most popular. Maybe I should turn this into a running blog.

George A said...

"So I had a blast around the bay for a couple of hours, getting used to sailing a Laser with 1970's vintage rigging."

Whatever happened to the art of "laser macrame"? A lost art I suppose in the wake of Laser Class adoption of "modern rigging". Hey, I know, you could buy Baydog's old Laser from the 70s. I'll bet it has wood blades with gen-u-wine varnish. You could rig it with all the fancy rope work that laser helms used to do as a matter of course and wow all the kiddos at the next frost bite session. They can barely tie their own shoes--most of 'em grew up with velcro...

Tillerman said...

I think that the "laser macrame" era has gone the way of the dodo. In retrospect it was a very silly idea.

For those not familiar with what George and I are talking about, see the 4th paragraph of my Classic Laser post.

Mitch Zeissler said...

Hear, hear! I heartily agree with the dear Doctor. Especially since I have a tall cool one at my elbow as I type this...

Baydog said...

Lasers ever had a different vang?

Tillerman said...

You going to make me write a post on the history of the vang?

George A said...

Laser Macrame--a silly idea! I'll bet the Knitting Sailor might think otherwise.

Fred said...

>>And more futile attempts to improve how I time the hand swap in tacks.<<

Next time, I really need to be there to get a bit more practice exactly for the hand swap. Something which is so difficult to me and which makes my maneuvers look bad. Keep posting about sailing from time to time. And this one and the other above reminds me in a hard way that I have to have a holiday at the Bitter End. OK, maybe nest time. Life is too short to spend November in the rainy and awful weather here in the North.

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