Monday, October 03, 2011

Minorca Sailing Revisited

I have just returned from a fabulous two week sailing vacation at Minorca Sailing. It was my fourth visit there, the last one being in 2006. I'm planning to write some posts about my specific sailing experiences there over the next few days, but I suggest that, if you're not familiar with the company, you first revisit a couple of my 2006 posts about the Minorca Sailing experience such as Minorca Sailing - 25 Years Later and More on Minorca Sailing. Pretty much everything I wrote back then is still true.

The first week of my vacation I concentrated on Laser sailing, taking the advanced Laser class in the mornings and racing Lasers every afternoon. The coach in charge of the class was excellent and gave me much helpful feedback on how to improve my Lasering technique. It's a bit humbling to discover that I still haven't learned to sail this simple little boat properly after 30 years of trying!

The second week I signed up for classes in Asymmetric dinghies. (I had to explain to Tillerwoman that Asymmetrics are so-called not because the hulls are asymmetric but because their spinnakers are.) I sailed a variety of boats and also did a bit more Lasering some days too. I didn't do any of the organized racing in the second week other than the traditional pursuit race on the final day, so it was quite a change of pace from the first week.

I don't think you could possibly sail every different class of boat at Minorca Sailing in only two weeks, but I did get to try out some of the boats that I have fantasized about on this blog in the past but, prior to this vacation, had never had the opportunity to sail.

Back in 2007 I wrote that if I still lived in the UK and if for some reason I grew tired of racing a Laser then I suspect I might seriously consider switching to the Laser SB3. Last week I had my first sail in an SB3.

Then in 2009 I was ruminating in Laser Killer? about which boat might be the one to topple the Laser from its position as the world's dominant single-handed racing class, and ended up drooling over the RS100. Last week I had my first sail in an RS100.

Closer to my Laser sailing roots, we must also mention the R-word. Actually two R-words.

Last year in Random Radial Ramblings I discussed some practical reasons why I ought to try sailing the smaller Laser rig, the Radial, occasionally and also reviewed some of the cultural pressures that inhibit big guys like me from going down that route. There was one morning in Menorca when the winds were forecast to be Beaufort Force 6, gusting to Force 7. i.e. 21-26 knots gusting to 33 knots. Most race officers in the US wouldn't run Laser races in those conditions. Every other sailor in the Advanced Laser Class opted to sail with the Radial rig that day, so I thought I might as well do the same. First time in a Radial in 30 years of Laser sailing!

In 2007 I wrote a post Fat Boy Laser about the Rooster 8.1 Rig, a larger Laser rig intended to suit sailors over over 90Kg in most conditions and lighter sailors in light airs. I don't think I had ever seen one before last week (except on the Internet) but when I discovered that there was one Rooster rig at Minorca Sailing I wanted to give it a shot. My opportunity came in the light wind pursuit race on Friday morning, the last sail of the vacation in fact. Interesting!

I suspect that many visitors to Minorca Sailing discover that it turns out to be a much more expensive experience than they had expected. Not because the actual holiday costs too much; it really is great value for money. But because with so many different boats to try I am sure that some people go home from Menorca with the ambition to buy one (or more) of the boats that they have tried there.

So will I be buying a new boat?

What about the SB3?

Well, much as I enjoyed helming the SB3 all the way down the Bay of Fornells flying its 46 square meter spinnaker, I don't think a $40,000 sportsboat is in my immediate future. I am still a dinghy sailor at heart.

Perhaps the RS100 then?

That is certainly more tempting. But I don't really want to be the only guy in New England with an RS100.  However, if a local fleet starts to develop I can see myself wanting to join in.

Well, if you're going to stick with Lasering for now, how about those other Laser rigs, the Radial and the Rooster 8.1? Maybe I should. The Radial would enable me to go out in heavier winds than I would currently be comfortable sailing in a Full Rig Laser, not to mention that if I want to keep going to Laser Masters Worlds after I am 65 (a couple of years from now) I will be forced to sail a Radial there so I may as well start getting used to it now. And the Rooster Rig certainly makes for a more exciting sail on light wind days especially for a bigger guy like me.

Are you listening Santa?


Perry said...

my sentiments exactly. There are lots of great boats out there, and the laser is one of those great boats. And the 8.1, full and radial rigs give great options. And it is important to keep fleet sizes up so sticking with the laser makes sense.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I vote for the Rooster, because I've always wanted a chance on one. (It would have prolonged my Laser life.) But not now. Unlike you, I'm far to old to consider even a $40,000 sport boat.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

And welcome back.

betty said...

Yes, welcome back. On top of everything else, I loved hearing mention of Tillerwoman ...

Joe said...

It's great to have you back, old sir.

Pandabonium said...

So cool that you got to sail some other boats that have been of interest for you.

I vote for whatever keeps you on the water and writing about it.

Post a Comment