I'm about to take a three week vacation, and will be missing my Laser on Tomales Bay, CA. I just ran across this old memory from when I was pretty new in the boat (about 30 years ago, and I confess I'm still "learning.") Levels of Laser Sailing Level One: When it is just windy enough to plane. You can work the boat through all of its proficiencies. Hike out and enjoy the small waves that don’t slow you to weather. Gybe with impunity, working on the perfect balance and carrying boatspeed through the turns. Practice dead downwind heeling to weather and oscillating just enough to enjoy the speed bursts without a capsize. This is “sweet “ sailing. You bond with and love the boat on a soulful and spiritual level. Level Two: Windier and a little bit crazy. Lots of spray. You are eating water but enjoying it. Adrenaline kicks in and you now feel a real accomplishment when you stick a good gybe, so try another. Heck, you can connect a few. Look at that z-shaped wake! A little more work on a beat, and you probably don’t run downwind unless absolutely necessary. At this level I am startled by the almost sensual component of handling the boat. I pant with the exertion. I yell, I talk dirty to her. I say things aloud I would not repeat on shore. I sing, for God’s sake! I am distracted by nothing. There is only the sailor and the boat and the fierce exciting beauty of the movement. Level Three: So this is what they meant by “Small Craft Warnings.” You are cold and scared. You’ve put in the reef while rigging on the beach, but are still way overpowered. The sea state is ugly and the noise from your flogging rig when you try to catch your breath after yet another brutal crash and swim is awful. Your drooling and gagging have no relation to pleasure. And what are those pops and creaks you hear? The rig, the hull, the hiking strap? Is that whining sound coming from you? You find the beat is a preferable direction. Reaching is still possible and wicked fast but do not catch your boom end in a wave. If you can gybe you are a God, so try it once or twice. Don’t even think of running downwind. It will be a quick end if you do. Generally this type of sailing is a mistake; to be survived.