Tuesday, June 09, 2015

A Tale of Two Boats

I now own two boats.

A Laser and an RS Aero.

It seems hard to believe but it's less than four weeks since the Aero was delivered.

I have to admit that in those few weeks I have sailed the Aero more times than the Laser, partly because I was desperately trying to learn how to sail the boat properly in preparation for racing in the first RS Aero Regatta in North America this side of the Continental Divide.

But the longer term plan is to split my time more or less equally between the two boats.

The question I have is whether sailing two boats that are similar in some ways (both hiking single-handers) but very different in others (designed in different centuries - one half the weight of the other) will make me a better sailor in either or both boats - or just very confused.

Some of my Laser sailing instincts undoubtedly help me in sailing the Aero. Some of those instincts may be totally wrong for the Aero. I need to unlearn old habits and learn new ones for a new boat.

Some of the challenges I face in learning to sail the Aero might help me with the Laser. Better feel for balancing the boat downwind perhaps? More practice at capsize recoveries maybe?

I don't know.

In his classic book on self-coaching in sailing - SAIL, RACE AND WIN - Eric Twiname lists swapping boats and classes as one of the twelve main ways of learning, right up there with race experience and solo practice and group coaching.

Twiname quotes Garry Hoyt in support of this theory…
It happens to be great fun to learn the quirks and idiosyncrasies of different boats. You will also find that each class emphasizes some particular skill, and if you learn that class you will have learned that particular skill better than anyone else who has not sailed that class.

So what do you think?

Will sailing the RS Aero make me a better Laser sailor?

Will continuing to sail the Laser make me a better RS Aero sailor?

Or do you only become a good sailor in one class by devoting all your time on the water to that one class?

I would really like to to hear your experiences and opinions on this question.


Keep Reaching said...

Sounds like you have already decided to continue with both boats. So, "devoting all your time on the water" to either doesn't sound like an option.

I can't give you any advice based on experience with 2 boats, but it seems to me you have 2 great toys and there is a lot of fun ahead playing with either or both. And you can cheat the nursing home on either.

Tillerman said...

Well yes, KR. I currently have a plan to sail both boats. And I certainly think it will be a lot fun and give me opportunities that wouldn't be available if I stuck with one class. But I still wonder what this will do to the development of my sailing skills in each class.

I see a lot of very good sailors who sail more than one class. And I also see some very good Laser sailors who are dedicating themselves to Laser sailing and to no other kind of sailing.

For me these days, it really is all about maximizing the fun I get from sailing. But I am also competitive, so I do wonder...

Chicken Gybe said...

I'm interested to hear where you stand in 3 months time -- will you be looking forward to Aero days and Laser day is chore (or vice-versa)? Or will you find that the boats are more fun in different conditions, and go for one boat over the other based on the weather that day? Looking forward to updates!

I sail two very different boats (a Laser and an ancient-slow-double-hander that I usually take out single handed anyways because my partner waited until I rigged up to call and say he can't make it out). Both have their challenges, but I imagine a Laser vs Aero would be a tighter comparison.

Michael O'Brien said...

I've sailed both for about 2 months and I think you will learn from both. The Aero will teach you to be more sensitive to the wind, weight and balance. The Laser will teach you how to catch every little wave downwind. The two boats have very different strengths.

However, when you switch back to the Laser after sailing the Aero for a while, you will feel like you are driving a truck. The momentum and weight difference is dramatic.

While I love both boats, the Aero is bringing a smile to my face more often. Given the choice, which I have, I find I'm picking the Aero to sail more and more.

Tillerman said...

Interesting observations Michael.

In the past 3 weeks I have sailed my Aero 8 times and not sailed my Laser at all.

I do plan to sail the Laser a few times over the next week, starting this evening I hope, weather permitting. I will let you know if it feels like a truck.

I do think you are right about the Aero teaching you more about wind, weight and balance. Sailing it in shifty, gusty conditions I suffered at first from reactions that were too slow to keep the boat flat upwind - too slow to respond with sheeting or steering or moving body weight. But I can feel myself getting better at that now and it will be interesting to see how that translates to Laser sailing in similar conditions.

And the Aero certainly brings a smile to my face. Every time I come off the water I have a big smile and a feeling of gratitude that I had the sense to buy this boat.

Michael O'Brien said...

"that I had the sense to buy this boat" .... the Aero helps build humility too ;-)

Tillerman said...

Oh god. Am I coming across as one of those, "My boat's better than your boat. Nee nah. Nee nah!" kind of guys?

Some years ago I was accused by one of my blog readers - the owner of another class of single-hander - of writing too many "up the Laser" rants.

Oh well. It is what it is. I like my new boat. So shoot me.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that a sailor of your caliber doesn't have the upgraded rigging. Have fun with both boats.

Tillerman said...

Well spotted Anonymous!

I am of very low caliber but I do have the upgraded rigging on my own boat.

In the photo I am sailing one of the Lasers at the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI.

As regular readers of my blog know, the Lasers at BEYC are Classic Lasers.

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