Thanks to everyone who commented on the three drawings in the Hiking Styles post yesterday.
The drawings are actually from Paul Goodison's 2008 book about Laser sailing, the RYA Laser Handbook. Goodison, of course, was the gold medal winner in Lasers in the 2008 Olympics so he knows a thing or two about how to sail a Laser. His book, as well as being a comprehensive guide to Laser technique, is also probably the best illustrated book ever about Laser sailing with hundreds of excellent photos.
So here is what the maestro has to say about those drawings in Chapter 10 Hiking...
As most of the comments identified, the first drawing is not optimum. Paul says this style is a common mistake. You may feel that you are hiking hard because your butt is a long way from the gunwale, but the upper body position is too vertical. You need to lean the shoulders back and use the leverage of your upper body.
In the second drawing the toe strap is tighter, the legs are straighter and the body is leaning backwards closer to horizontal. This is much more effective than the style in the first drawing and is what Paul recommends for flatter water.
In the third drawing the toe strap is a little loser and the legs are bent slightly and the shoulders are not as low as in the second drawing. Paul says that this style allows more mobility for the upper body and it's easier in this position to move the shoulders forward to help steer the boat through waves.
Seeing these drawing again in this book recently was like a light bulb going off in my head. Almost all the photos I have seen recently of me sailing, even when I thought I was hiking hard, look way too much like the first picture.
Check out this one for example...
So in my last few practice sessions I have been trying to hike more like the guy in the second drawing. As some commenters mentioned, it's hard at first to hold this position for the whole beat, but I figure the more I practice the more I will build my endurance to use this position for longer.
As for Goodison's final point, I hadn't heard that advice before. But I was playing around during my practice session yesterday in waves on the Sakonnet river and he is right. If you hike with the upper body almost horizontal, it is very hard to move your upper body forward and backwards in the waves. That 45 degrees lean position in the third drawing does allow much more mobility of the upper body.
Why is my back aching so much today?
I think I'll take a nap now.