It felt a bit windier at times, but the CBIBS buoy said the steady breeze was about 12-14 and the gusts were around 15-17. Probably says something about unscientific wind speed estimates in Annapolis (and my inability to hike hard for more than 2 minutes at a time). We sailed 6 quick races, and I think 4 of them were triangles with nice fast angles, so everyone got their fix of fast reaching. The waves were a nice change from the flat water of most offshore-breeze frostbite days.
Those who have done more than a couple of TESOD’s probably noticed that the conditions were almost an exact copy of a windy summer Tuesday night. The only difference was that we were in dry suits instead of bare feet…. The similarities were almost uncanny – I used embarrassingly simple tactics the entire day. I started near the left end of the line and sailed to the left in each race. I tacked at, near, or beyond the layline depending on traffic on my windward hip. On the runs, I avoided sailing close to Eastport (to stay in the breeze), which meant staying relatively close to the rhumbline. On the last leg (upwind), sailing all the way to the right often paid, as there is often a geographic right wind shift down in that part of the harbor.
Upwind points: Unlike some recent frostbite days with wind, the chop made it unwise to pinch when overpowered. In flat water, its more acceptable to pinch through the puffs, but today the wind was much steadier so there wasn’t a need to quickly dump power. I was careful to keep the bow down (away from the wind) to keep the boatspeed up, unless the boat to leeward of me dictated otherwise. I used a ton of Cunningham and kept my vang quite tight so that I could ease the mainsheet for extra speed, or to dodge a bad wave. The Cunningham keeps the draft forward but also allows the leech to twist off. This allow the bottom of the sail to be trimmed with more power in the front of the sail. Without the Cunningham, the back of the sail is the only part of the sail pulling, which just makes the windward helm worse. The vang keeps the mast bent when you ease the mainsheet and bends the lower mast much more than the mainsheet alone. I didn’t need to ease the main to dump power very often, but being able to ease sheet and accelerate is a good thing, and I was often sailing below closehauled after going over the port layline. The waves were really only a problem on starboard upwind as the waves were oriented further left than the wind (exactly like TESOD).
On last week’s reaches, it seemed like the boats that made the effort to sail high were rewarded with lots of opportunities to get over the top and make a pass, so I was resolved to stay in the high lane today. I went way too far in one instance when Bryan and I got way off the rhumbline. Today’s waves probably made the difference here – when the angle is right for bearing away onto a wave on the reach, the boat to leeward has an extra opportunity. Some of this week’s reaches were unbelievably epic.
On the runs, the mismatch in wind/wave direction make it relatively easy to sail too far left (looking downwind) because you can sail straight down the wave by the lee (on starboard). Therefore, I worked very hard to catch waves and then surf them towards the right. I took almost every opportunity to do so because it was always easy to bear off by the lee and go fast to secure the inside overlap. This led to lots of big downwind turns (hey, it’s fun when it’s done right).
It was easy to stick the bow into the waves, whether you were going up, down, or across the wind. It’s important to minimize this, though impossible to avoid entirely on a day like today. It takes a long time to drain the cockpit when it fills up and its surprisingly heavy. Upwind, I try to steer around the steep waves when I could, and when you have to go through one, having a bit of heel will allow most of the water to fall off the leeward side of the boat. For those new to the laser, try to learn how to kick water out of your cockpit – it’s faster than waiting for the bailer. You might have to pinch for a second in a stretch of flat water to allow yourself to slide your body inboard. On the runs and reaches, the best thing is to move weight back, and to steer out of the wave. Sneak your weight aft when flying down a big wave, or when you know you’re going to be a in the upcoming moments.
Last point is that nothing helps downwind technique more than getting out there sailing. So try and get out there and do it with others, especially when it’s windy. And talk to others about their experience to learn the little tricks that make you feel comfortable so that you can figure it out.
|3||701||Chitter Charter||Brady, Christopher||1||2||5||4||3||6||21||3|
|5||183826||Tan, Robert J.||4||9||2||3||5||4||27||5|
|7||9 A||Burley, R. D.||6||5||6||5||2||19/DNF||43||7|
|9||180536||Cold Feet||Cofer, Steven||9||12||8||12||11||10||62||9|
|12||200405 /184472||Parramore, Michael||14||10||11||11||17||7||70||12|
|13||194547||Liana Laser||Caruso, Jeffrey||11||16||12||8||16||12||75||13|
|1||191513 (13)||Beigel, Reid||1||1||1||1||1||1||6||1|