Difficulty bearing off in 15 knots and depowering on a reach

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Duncan_vdH, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. Duncan_vdH

    Duncan_vdH Member

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    Yesterday I went sailing in 15+ knots and serious waves for an inland lake and because I have mainly sailed in winds up to 15 knots, I still find this very challenging.

    Upwind is fine, but I have difficulty changing course to a broad reach, while keeping the boat under control.

    I earlier understood that oversheeting on a reach slows the boat down, but I find it hard to get on and keep it on a reach. If I ease the sheet too much the boat takes off like a rocket.

    Gybing is also very challenging. I now the only way to master this is doing it, but it is not something I look forward to, to say the least.
     
  2. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Yes, the Laser certainly presents challenges. Still does for me after ten years!
    I may have misunderstood, but if you ease the sheet on a reach the boat should slow down, unless you were closer to the wind.
    I try to keep the boat flat on a reach, so that the rudder will 'listen'. If the boat starts heeling to leeward, I sheet out. Once the wind lessens a bit, I sheet in again. There must be video on the Internet, and you can always ask Marit B! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  3. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Let your vang off before you even think about bearing away. Move your weight aft, and remember ease-hike-trim. As the boat speeds up, the apparent wind will shift forward requiring further adjustment of the sheet and your body. On a screaming reach, you are not static. You are constantly making micro-adjustments to keep the boat under control. With time it will be second nature, but you will definitely go swimming while learning.

    Gybing is yet another animal. Try to time the gybe during a lull or when you are not surfing down the face of a wave. Lowering the daggerboard may help in giving the boat something to pivot around. I would suggest bearing down to a run before gybing until you get comfortable with it.
     
  4. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    You mean when you are surfing down a wave? That's when the pressure on everything is at its lowest.
    Well, at least the boat pivots easier around its fore-and-aft axis then :D Actually, you want to keep the board as high as possible during a gybe if you want to minimize the risk of capsizing - think of it as underwater depowering.
     
  5. Duncan_vdH

    Duncan_vdH Member

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    Thank you for your responses.
    So first step before bearing off is easing the vang, then hiking out to heel windward and easing the sheet.
    How about oversheeting on a reach to reduce the speed, once you have managed to bear off ?
     
  6. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Here's a nice video (from Greece):

    Note that the boom is horizontal (most of the time); no need to adjust the vang while reaching around.
    Also, you don't want the boom to more than 90 degrees out when initiating a jibe. And be real quick moving your body to the other side during the jibe!

    Another one:
     
  7. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    With "oversheeting" do you mean sheeting tighter or looser than for optimal airflow? And why would you not want to go as fast as possible?
     
  8. Duncan_vdH

    Duncan_vdH Member

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    I thought oversheeting means that the sheet is tighter than for optimal airflow.
    The reason for reducing speed is to feel (more) in control of the boat (Am I riding or driving this boat :) ).
     
  9. inlandfreddy

    inlandfreddy Member

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    It sounds like You are sailing it.;)
     
  10. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    You really don't want to slow the boat down that way. If it feels more controllable, it's just an illusion. The boat may feel more stable but you're actually overloading everything and when the next gust hits you're in trouble. You might even break something.

    However, you can (and even should) oversheet when running or on a very broad reach if it keeps you from rolling to windward. But that's not for slowing down, and you should sheet out again usually within the next two seconds...
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. andyatos

    andyatos Active Member

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    Hey there Duncan,

    What you are going through sounds very much like what my "protege" Greg went through. Before he learned that "faster is better", we got caught one day over a mile upwind of the boat ramp when the wind really came up. After struggling to sail off the wind while not being fully powered up I had him fully luff up, sailed right up next to him and told him he just had to man up, bear way off and slowly bring on the power until his tell tales were flowing perfectly.

    Well, he did it, got his weight way back and took off like a rocket. But as he expressed after we got back to the ramp, "Ya... once I was going full speed, everything got nice and stable. It was scary at first, but I really liked it. It was way easier."

    This is due to what Lali was saying. That getting fully powered up on a broad reach brings your apparent wind well forward, you get your daggerboard working in balance with your sail (your underwater and above the water "airfoils") and a lot of the twitchiness in the boat goes away. It's the exact same dynamic with windsurfing. Ie, 3/4 to top speed is waaaaay more stable and easy than 1/4 to 1/2 speed.

    Also, keep raising your daggerboard until you find the sweet spot. You'll know it when you find it. Suddenly your boat will go from wanting to heel all the time in the gusts... forcing you to sheet out... to having really nice manners. You just have to embrace the terror!

    And regarding gybing in those kinds of strong conditions, here's a tip. Don't gybe. When you have to change direction, slowly head up while sheeting in. Then tack. Then slowly bear away on to a broad reach on your new tack.

    Cheers,

    - Andy
     
  12. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    What Andy described in the last paragraph is called a 'chicken jibe'.
    I have seen some very accomplished racers do that in a Masters regatta when the wind gusted to the mid thirties.
    I must admit that I had already thrown in my towel and was trying to dry out inside the club house.
     
  13. Duncan_vdH

    Duncan_vdH Member

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    Dear Andy,

    I am quite positive you are right. I always need to find my way after a few weeks without sailing, and when you are confronted with this amount of wind and waves, it is hard for me not to get a bit nervous. That is was relatively cold and after a really busy week of work did not help either.
    Normally I do not mind capsizing, but with the cold you know a few capsizes will really drain your energy.
    Anyway, I will try to approach this differently next time and take your advise with regard to getting the boat up to speed as opposed to trying to slow it down.

    Best,
    Duncan
     

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