Sunday, June 21, 2009

Downwind sailing; Laser carving the waves

Offwind sailing in Lasers has become very sophisticated compared to the 70's when I was racing. To facilitate surfing on waves, the top sailors have developed a radical carving technique of diving off by the lee and then heading abruptly up.

After TESOD racing, while munching on my dinner, I had the pleasure of talking offwind Laser sailing with a very articulate and knowledgable collegian, Erik Bowers, from the College of Charleston. Erik has aspirations for the Laser Olympic berth down the road but his explanations were so detailed he would make an excellent coach (he is spending the summer with the junior program at Tred Avon YC over at St. Michaels).

Here is what I gleaned from Erik;

  • Minimize tiller movement. Body movement and sheeting are the two keys. You must be balcanced in the Laser to facilitate rapid body movements.
  • Work perpindicular to the waves. This may not be the rhumb line course. If you are not sailing the rhumb line, you may have to work one angle harder to get back to the rhumb line.
  • Course change in Lasers can be up to +/- 40 degrees.
  • Heading up is mostly massive sheeting in. Erik grabs three handfuls of sheet to begin the head up and also in breeze, you need to throw your weight to windward. In lighter wind, you stay centered to help the Laser head up.
  • Body Movement fore and aft. If the waves are catching you, keep your weight forward, if you are faster than the waves, keep your weight back to keep the bow light.
  • This technique is mostly about feel and is hard to describe in words. Erik was bouncing around in his chair trying to demonstrate.


Here is a great YouTube video with Brendan Casey using onboard audio to give his description of how he carves a Laser offwind.

1 comment:

drstrwa said...

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