Monday, July 08, 2013

Sailing a Laser Upwind in Waves

One aspect of Laser sailing where I am very slow compared to the good sailors at regattas around here is sailing upwind in waves. I suspect that there are a number of details of my technique that I need to improve to close that gap.

I wonder what I can learn from this video clip? (The clip is first played at full speed, and then at half speed with commentary. The changeover is at about 1:30.)


Any comments from my expert Laser sailing friends?

Sail controls?

Hiking style?

Sheeting in and out?

Rudder movements?

Body movements?

Is this a good technique to emulate?

Could you suggest any better alternatives?


Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert but....

This guys does pretty much what I think I do, though I've never been filmed. That said, I'm not particularly fast in these conditions either but that might be due to lack of upper body strength to keep the sheet and tiller moving all the way up the beat.

What he isn't doing much of, if any, is forward and backward movement. I was once taught to shift weight aft before landing the bow to reduce the slam and to shift forward to rock the centre of effort over each crest. I don't know if that's much faster but I think Cockerill shows that in one of his online articles called upwind kinetics. Personally, I find I do it on those odd bigger waves but usually I find it a distraction.

Oh to be out Laser sailing...


Doug / Pam said...

This is a good video because it shows the three most important things about sailing in a breeze: be in shape, be in shape, be in shape. Everything else - form, movement, tiller, main trim - is dependent on being in shape. This is especially true at places like the Gorge where the windward legs are looooong against the current.

Tony said...

I'm not an expert either, but...

My general sense is that he is trying to outmuscle the boat. In a breeze the boat will always win, so you need more finesse and balance. Still with plenty of muscle, but you need to work with the boat, not fight it.

I think the first thing he needs to do is pull on more cunningham. This will bring the depth forward to give him the wider steering groove he needs to steer through the waves. It will reduce his weather helm, which he seems to spend a lot of the video fighting. And it will reduce the power in the sail, which he has too much of most of the time.

His hiking is ok. Of course with more fitness he could get the strap closer to his toes, his knees lower and his bum further out and higher from the water, but he's human like the rest of us. He definitely looks much better the boat is flatter.

The tiller spends a lot of time to weather combatting the weather helm. Using the tiller to steer through the waves is ok but he needs to have the boat flatter to make this work and it needs to be a hard, fast jab or tug on the tiller, then straight back to the middle. Timing is everything. Steve Cockerill explains this well in his DVDs, pulling the tiller when the boat is heeled drives the bow lower in the water which is the last thing you want when there's a wave in front of you.

Like R says above, the sailor isn't doing much fore and aft movement. In chop like in the video I think it's best to use kinetics to lift the bow for each wave while bearing away with the tiller, but moving forward doesn't work. The waves are too close together for the timing to work. When the waves space out a little more then moving forward as you go over the wave will help keep the bow attached to the water to maximise waterline length, will increase the distance you sail downhill and so on. But in a short chop, this doesn't work.

If you haven't seen it already, the most educational video I've ever seen is of Robert Scheidt ... . There is so much to learn here for both upwind and downwind sailing. I've spent hours watching this over and over. Of course we can't all be as physical in the boat as he is, but we can still apply the same principles.

Tillerman said...

I was afraid that might be the answer.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Tony. Much food for thought. I will certainly study that Scheidt video.

Anonymous said...

The most educational video that I have seen of late is the Laser medal race from the 2012 Olympics. Tom S and Pavlos K went off by themselves and were both very physical on the first upwind leg with perfect technique. Winds were somewhere around 15 knots.

My other comment is that the waves in the above (Gorge) video hardly qualify as such. Not that it matters...


Anonymous said...

PS: the Olympics video is on YouTube; the whole race.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Wavedancer. I will study the Olympic video too.

Yes, those waves in the Gorge video are not huge ocean swells, but they are fairly similar to the waves we get sailing on the bays around here.

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