Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Once again this week I am amazed by the difference between the level of the game I am playing and the plane that the experts are on. In my account of Sunday's racing I briefly described how I passed a few tailenders with some well-timed pumps on the waves. (Well, to be honest, sometimes well-timed.)

Here by contrast is an account by the guy at the front of the fleet, Andrew Scrivan, of how he was using the waves downwind.

As I mentioned in the debrief, there were a few key things that I may have been doing to better my boat speed downwind. Things like scanning my peripheral for the largest part of the wave, loading and unloading the boat, and paying careful attention to my high and low angles in relation to the bottom mark accounted for much of my gains. When you catch a wave and are cruising down the backside immediately start looking to the left and right. The wave you are on will most of the time either die out in one of these directions or grow larger. Always head for the largest curl. Remember when you turn the boat use the change of course to your advantage by accelerating the boat. If you intend to reach up, roll slightly to leeward, and then trim in quite fast and gracefully flatten the boat at the same time, all the while letting you tiller follow. The boat will accelerate and shoot into the large curl you spotted. If you spot a wave set or the larger part of your wave to leeward, heal the boat to weather, allow the tiller to gracefully follow and keep tension on the main sheet. When the boat is on course flatten, and then slowly ease the mainsheet. Again the boat will accelerate in your new direction and you can look for you new large wave. Most of the steering comes from shifting your weight and sheeting in and out a lot, not your tiller. As you go down wind you will notice that the fastest route may be on the by the lee angle, reaching or at times, dead down wind. Most of the time you will have to be conscious not to sail too long and hard on the fast angle as it can take you into a corner too soon and you will end up having to sail back to the mark at poor surfing angle. To avoid this, be conscious of your rumbline, and keep looking for opportunities to take a wave back to center, left, or right depending on which way you need to head.

Then just to rub it in, he writes that this "just scratches the surface of the issue".

Man, do I have a lot to learn!


EVK4 said...

Your late summer hiatus has led to some incredibly good writing lately. Keep this up and I may trade up my el toro for a laser!

On that topic, what's the difference between the laser, laser II, and any other varieties?

Tillerman said...

Thanks for the compliment. As I wrote somewhere the summer sail instructor job absorbed a lot of my mental energy. Now I have more time to think of things to write.

The Laser 2 is a totally different boat - a 2 person boat with trapeze and spinnaker.

There are some variants of the Laser that use the same hull, foils and rigging but have smaller sail area. These are the Radial and 4.7.

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