Monday, January 22, 2007

Wave Reflections

diego romero argentina Diego Romero sailing in the 2007 Caribbean Midwinters Regatta
Photo by Roberto Alvarez courtesy of

Dear reader, I misled you.

Having read again my post on Waves, and the comments to it, I can understand why I left the impression that my experience sailing in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic a few days ago was one long struggle to cope with the wave conditions. Of course that was not correct. Yes, there were some days when it all seemed a bit beyond me. But there were also days when I enjoyed long exhilarating rides surfing down those monster waves. Days that will rank as some of the best I have ever spent on the water.

On the first two days of the clinic it was champagne sailing conditions all the way. Winds of 15 to 20 knots and plenty of waves. Brett Davis, our coach, gave us lots of drills to allow us to gain familiarity with wave sailing both up and down wind and to improve our boat-handling and boat-speed in those conditions. When we set off on a downwind drill and bore away to sailing by the lee on one of those big rollers it was like sliding down the roof of a house. The Laser effectively became a surfboard. Much of the time the sail was backwinded on those rides.

Hmmm, let me see? If the winds were over 15 knots and the speed of the boat on a wave made the sail back then we were going faster than the wind, right? That feels pretty darned fast on a little 14 foot slab of fiberglass.

Eventually the ride would end and it would be time to head up on to a broad reach and try and catch the next wave. Brett had us doing plenty of reaching drills too, mainly racing between the two safety boats and gybing around each one as they were driving slowly downwind. Then on the second day he had us doing a drill he called 1-2-3-Pump where when he blew the whistle we would bear away to sailing by the lee, and then on the next whistle move body weight in, sheet in 1-2-3 times and then a big pump to make the boat head up and start planing on a broad reach without using the tiller. And repeat. Over and over again. Down and surf and up and plane and down and surf and so on and so on.

Man it was fun.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tillerman,
Thanks for the credit on the photos, much appreciated.

Tillerman said...

You're welcome Robert. Thanks for the great photos. Some of the best action shots of Laser sailing I have ever seen, and taken in some very difficult conditions for bouncing around in a small boat with a camera.

Anonymous said...

I second that. Robert does make awesome pictures.

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