Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lasers Tie It Down

On the third day of my vacation in Menorca, we had a different instructor, Joe, in the Laser class. Must have been Tom's day off I guess. The topic of the class was reaching and running and, after some instruction on tactics and strategy for offwind legs we headed out to practice the same.

I thought the most fun part of the morning was when we practiced going downwind with the tiller tied in a central position. I knew I could steer the boat on a run by varying the heel of the boat but I don't think I had ever done gybes without touching the tiller before. I'm sure it was a very good drill for curing me of the problem that Tom had identified on the first day - my tendency to oversteer in gybes. LASERS TIE IT DOWN as Sam Chapin would say.

After a leisurely lunch with Tillerwoman, followed by a short power nap, I headed out for the races in the afternoon. I didn't notice it until I sheeted in at the start of the first race, but my sail had a tear in the foot, on the seam for the luff patch. I suspect it happened at the start. I'm sure it must have caused at least a 0.001% reduction in boatspeed, but in spite of that I managed to win both races. Woo hoo!

On returning to the the hotel later that afternoon I discovered that one of my fellow sailors had badly injured his knee. After much protestations that he would be OK after a good night's sleep his wife insisted on immediately taking him to the hospital in Mahon to have the knee checked out. The staff of Minorca Sailing were very helpful to them, arranging appointments, transport etc. and magically producing a pair of crutches. (I wonder how many pairs they kept in reserve for such incidents.) The poor guy wasn't seen again until the next day when he appeared with his knee all strapped up and a diagnosis that basically meant he had screwed up everything in a knee it was possible to screw up. I took it as a personal warning not to overdo things on this holiday. The knee guy had been doing lessons every morning, racing every afternoon, and then going out with instructors or more advanced sailors on various fast, sexy boats in the late afternoon. Another guy who had not windsurfed for years came to Minorca Sailing that week to windsurf, hurt his back, went windsurfing with his hurt back and then really hurt his back. The combination of over 50 years on the planet, a Y chromosome, and way too many cool toys to play with in one week seemed to be a dangerous combination for some. I spent the rest of my vacation preaching this sermon to any other over-achieving middle-aged guys who would listen to me...

Where was I? Oh yes, Monday afternoon. After lying down for an hour or two to demonstrate my amazing willpower not to do too much, I staggered off to Ca Na Marga with Tillerwoman for some Sobrasada (Menorcan sausage) followed by grilled lamb chops. Mmmm. And so to bed.


O Docker said...

I am enjoying this series of posts about your sailing classes in Menorca/Minorca, although not being a gonzo Laser sailor like you, I can't think of much to say in a comment that would be relevant.

Wait, did I just say gonzo Laser sailor? Somehow, I think that is the perfect word to describe you. But, I wasn't sure if I remembered the definition right, so I googled.

I was shocked to learn that the interwebs are no more certain about what gonzo means than I am. It's a word that, like me, is a child of the '70s, and that was most associated with the over-the-top, hyperbolic, and obsessed journalism of Hunter S. Thompson.

I think it's the part about obsession and focused commitment, even to the point of excess, that I take away from the word, so to me, you are a gonzo Laser sailor.

Who else would travel halfway around the world to spend all day, day after day, sailing a Laser, sailing a Laser, and then finish up by sailing a Laser some more?

As I guess Sam Chapin would say, Lasers are gonzo.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for those kind words (I think) O Docker. I don't think anyone has ever called me a gonzo before.

There is more to come about my first week in Menorca being a gonzo Laser sailor. In my second week there, I sailed a variety of boats although maybe some of that was gonzo-ish too.

Pandabonium said...

Mr Hakuta, the Hinuma yacht club owner, told me about how in his youth he practiced sailing up and down the lake without using the tiller. Sounds like a great exercise - though I admit I've yet to try it. :)

Congratulations on your wins.

Crutches? Nobody told me this was a dangerous sport when I bought the boat. I thought it was snow skiers who ended up on crutches.

Tillerman said...

The guy who hurt his knee did it when going out on the trapeze - on an RS800 I think - not a fall or anything like that. Something just went click in his knee and then there was intense pain. He kept telling everyone it could have happened any time, walking or running or just coming down stairs and he may have been right. As I recall, the doctor said he had dislocated the patella, and torn the meniscus and the ACL.

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