Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Two Styles of Laser Roll Tack

Check out these two very different styles of roll-tacking a Laser, the first by an unnamed German sailor (I assume from the GER on his sail) and the second by Andrew Scrivan who sails in Connecticut.

How are they different?

What can we learn from them?

Which style would be more effective?

The thing that struck me the most was the different ways the sailors time and initiate the initial roll to windward.

The German sailor moves his butt out to the edge of the deck almost as soon as he starts steering into the tack. His boat is heeling to windward as he is steering up to head-to-wind.

Whereas Andrew doesn't move his body at all as he starts to steer, and his boat is flat as he steers up to head-to-wind.  In fact the first move he makes is to shift his butt towards the centerline of the boat, and then follows that with throwing his shoulders back to initiate the roll to windward when he is pointing approximately head-to-wind.

What do you think?

Are there any other significant differences?


BlueVark said...

Maybe its the way its filmed or the wind strength, but the german seems to have a lot more time and control.

When i try this i get to the point the german is at 8 seconds and then i pannic, my bouyancy aid gets trapped on the boom and i end up swimming!

Vaughn said...

It looks to me like the German boat is very stalled.. rolling windward heel before hitting head 2 wind is like luffing your daggerboard, you no longer have good flow on your foils helping you turn the boat with speed. He's lucky to get as much heel as he did without getting the sheet in block to block. people always get less heel trying to force the boat over early, backing the sail, and stalling the foils, instead of waiting for it to fall on top of you
Scrivens has a slower approach (less tiller), and waits until the boat hits head 2 wind before using his body outboard. But, he need not bother using his body to torque the boat at that point, because it will force him to have to flatten immediately, instead of giving the sail and foils time to re-attain flow on the new tack. All that is required, is sitting your but into the water on the leeward side very slowly and smoothly so as the boat continues to heel and turn naturally.

both boats sheet out when flattening which is very important. not bad!

Tillerman said...

The German is taking longer to completer each tack I think. Is that to do with wind strength or his technique? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

As for getting the lifejacket caught on the boom....

1. The German either isn't wearing a PFD or has a shirt over it. That helps. And Andrew has a very snug-fitting PFD.

2. The German never sheets block-to-block at any point. This certainly helps in getting under the boom, but does it make his tack more or less efficient?

3. Both sailors are facing partly forwards (rather than sideways) as they duck the boom. I think the boom has a greater tendency to snag the PFD if you cross facing sideways. Also you should be looking forwards anyway so you see where the boat is pointing and what the wind ahead is doing.

Keep Reaching said...

Scrivan leans way out and way back, whereas the German just leans out.

Anonymous said...

The German is an unknown--for a reason. Don't like the look of his tack at all. Heeling to windward before boat passes head-to-wind? Big no-no.

Scrivan's tacks are wicked-fast. Have been the victim of them many times...

Marc Jacobi

Tillerman said...

Well spotted KR.

In fact Andrew seems to do a torque backwards at the same time as his initial shoulder bump, and then another torque back as he flattens the boat. The latter is similar (although not as extreme) as the move that we saw on the Fred Strammer video a few days ago.

Tillerman said...

Scrivan is nice and slow steering into the tack which I have always understood is what you should do as it maximizes distance gained to windward without slowing the boat down.

But when he commits to the windward roll it all appears to happen very quickly after that. Is that optimal or would it be better, as Vaughn suggests, to do the roll and flatten more slowly and smoothly?

Keep Reaching said...

I watched the Scrivan video again to observe how he sheets out and was amazed to notice that he lets go completely of the mainsheet - that can't be a good technique.

Tillerman said...

I don't see where he drops the main sheet.

After the tack he takes his right hand holding the sheet to pick up the tiller while still holding the sheet. For a moment that hand is out of sight in the video but when it reappears you can see it is still holding sheet and tiller. Then he picks up the sheet from the block with his left hand.

Or am I missing something?

Ryan Wood said...

One thing to realize, is that both these tacks are done in different wind strengths. The German tacks in much lighter wind than Scrivan. In the light wind, smoothness is key. If Scriven tacked the same way in much lighter wind, he would end up stopping the boat in its tracks. The German's tacks are also more 'legal'. As someone pointed out in another comment, Scriven moves aft in the boat as the tack begins and then jumps forward in his flatten. This is no doubt a trick learned from his Opti days where kids are taught that very same technique. What it amounts to, is an ooch. Another thing to look at is the sheeting techniques. The German has his sail eased so that the end of the boom is over the corner of the transom, like it should be in light air. He still eases though as the boom comes across and then sheets in again as he flattens(He did drop the sheet on his second tack). This is kind of an extra pump to help get the boat moving again, but it is still legal. Since rocking is basically pumping anyway, a little work with the sail just helps you along. Scrivan on the other hand, is two-blocked to begin with,and then eases to get himself under the boom. But then he doesn't get the sail back in during his flatten, which means he is slow coming out of the tack because his flatten won't have as much effect. If you watch closely, Scrivan's boat accelerates after the tack is complete, meaning his roll-tack wasn't as effective as it could have been. The German is at speed by the time the boat is flat again. Overall, I think the German's tack is more effective than Scrivan's

Keep Reaching said...

I agree - he did keep it in both tacks; I was watching late at night - I guess my eyes were tired.

Tillerman said...


Part of my reasons for posting these two is that it seems to me that even very good sailors have different roll tack techniques from each other, and of course differences in technique for different wind strengths. There is no one perfect way to do a roll tack. People have different styles.

I think Ryan is right that in lighter winds you need to be slower and smoother, but I think Marc is also right about some of the faults in the German's technique.

I was interested that Ryan picked up on the different sheeting techniques. I have been told by a coach that even in winds that are so light you don't beat block-to-block, you should still sheet in to block-to-block as you go into the tack. Something about that means you have a smaller angle to tack through.

What I do know is that Andrew is a very good Laser sailor and coach (perennial champion in the very tough Cedar Point YC fleet). I don't think I could go wrong trying to copy aspects of his technique and see if they work for me.

Tillerman said...

Thanks. Actually I think the video is all of the same tack with the repeat running a little slower than the first showing.

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