When did all the Laser kids start zigging and zagging downwind in waves?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've known for ages that it isn't fast to sail a Laser dead downwind. You need to get some flow on the sail so sailing by the lee or on a very broad reach is faster than a dead run.
And of course it's good to catch rides on waves if you can.
So I usually set off down the run on a broad reach or sailing by the lee and then, if I get too far to one side, come back on the other angle.
But now all the fast sailors seem to be weaving up and down all the time. They talk about "up-turns" and "down-turns" and change direction every few seconds.
I guess it's faster because they are catching more rides on waves. Often it seems they are using a faster point of sail so they can accelerate and then turn down to catch a ride on a wave that they wouldn't otherwise be able to achieve.
It was a wonderful evening for Tuesday night racing in Bristol yesterday. Around 12 knots I would guess. (But then I'm not very good at knots.) There were four full rig Lasers and we usually arrived at the windward mark pretty close together. I was even in the lead in some races.
But then I was usually blown away downwind. The other three were faster than me. Was it because I was the fattest and heaviest? Maybe. Or perhaps they were just better at catching the waves?
Over dinner and a beer (or two) in Redlefsens afterwards there was much discussion about downwind sailing and how to catch a wave.
One of our party went on a sailing clinic with Clay Johnson and Kyle Rogachenko last year so was tutoring us on all the latest advice on Laser downwind speed. I was only half paying attention as I concentrated on my Fettucine a la Bolognese and Warsteiner. Something about upturns and downturns and how to see what the waves were doing and what to do with the tiller, I think.
"Miss, can I have another Warsteiner, please?"
Perhaps I like beer too much?
I tried to catch up on what I missed by watching some videos on YouTube today.
Here is John Emmet turning in waves...
And here is Brendan Casey sailing downwind in the Gorge...
What can we learn from these videos?
How do their techniques differ?
How do they initiate the turns?
Where are they looking?
One thing that really puzzles me about all this is how do you know which way to turn?
Does the wave look more juicy on one side or the other?
What are you looking for?
Would you see the waves better if you looked backwards or forwards?
And most importantly, should I go for the Warsteiner or the Köstritzer Schwarzbier next Tuesday?