Monday, August 06, 2007

Non laser sailor sails a laser

I hadn't done much Laser sailing apart from once on another sailing holiday a long time ago. But having heard lots about it from Tillerman was keen to give it another go.

So during the hols we did the clinic, had a lesson, and off we went. Nephew B had done a bit of Laser sailing before so was soon practicing his rolling tacks, backwards sailing and dry capsizing.

Me - I was trying to work out how many hands you'd need to simultaneously move the tiller, main sheet, raise/lower the dagger board, tweak the sail tension lines, and possibly hold on. I think that's about 5, so a double-jointed octopus would feel right at home. The first ten minutes were spent thinking "There! Is! No! Cleat! On! The! Main! Sheet!" - which for the non sailor means there is nothing to lock it off so you have to hold on to that rope all the time.

And of course when tacking or gybing you have to maneuver all of these while also moving across the boat while keeping at least one foot in the straps. And as for the so called dry capsize, mine turned into a total inversion total soaking with added bruises:

This is the one I called the death-mark, even though it looks a bit like an obese rabbit.

But by the end of the week I became a total Laser fan. Once you get the hang of what to hold where and when to change it kind of makes sense - after all 180,000 other Laser sailors can do it.

And the size and shape is just brilliant for fun and fast dinghy sailing. After a bit of practice the reasoning begins to clear. With such a small boat you need to hold on to sheet to adjust quickly for gusts. With practice the tiller becomes as automatic as driving and so you can forget the basics and enjoy the ride.

And it certainly is fun to be reaching along skimming the waves that splash up and soak your bum (well it certainly is when the temperature is in the 40s). Its a perfect racing dinghy - small yet perfectly formed, priced to be an entry level club sail yet also raced at the Olympics.

Must admit have been looking at prices in sailing mags and checking out local clubs that sail them.

That can't be right, surely?


Tillerman said...

Uh oh. Another one bites the dust. Be warned. Laser sailing is more addictive than crack. You may think you can stop any time you want, but you can't.

Seriously... brilliant post. You capture the essence of why 180,000 of us do this crazy thing. If you have any questions about Lasers please send me an email.

JP said...

Thanks - loads of questions, mostly pretty basic.

One thing I've noticed is not everyone sails the same way: for example during tacking when does the tiller flip from behind the back - before or after?

In the lesson we were told tack first then get the tiller on the right side but my nephew flips it over before the tack and says thats how he was taught.

Also which method is best for pulling lots of sheet in at once - wrap round knee or tiller?

Which do you use or does it vary by circumstance or preference?

Katinka said...

WOOOW, that's the most enormous bruise I've seen in a long time! (last time I had one of those it was in a completely different region and earned it coming off a ski lift)

You sailors prove my theory that men can actually multi-task quite well, if not better than the other half!

Tillerman said...

I've posted the answers to your questions JP on my blog at Laser Sailing Questions.

Anonymous said...

That bruise is a batch of honor for beginning Laserites. BTW, if you take aspirin regularly, light bruises may turn even more spectacular....