Maximum sailable wind speed...?

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Turtled, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Turtled

    Turtled Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Hi all.
    Following a recent 'difficult' sail, I've been wondering what the maximum sailable wind speed is in a standard rig Laser?

    By way of background, I've been sailing for about 4 years, and Lasers for the last 3 of those. I'm 5'9" and about 13st (82.5kg) plus kit!. I've only recently bought my own boat, so can now sail in any conditions (used to be restricted when it was howling). I've got a 'Skywatch' anemometer that I've mounted on my mast just below the boom (on a removable bracket attached with velcro before you all have a go at me!), which I got primarily so I could check how I was handling the boat in any given conditions. I consider myself an 'ok' sailor, certainly not brilliant, but certainly not terrible.

    Normally, my idea of fun is just to go out for a blast in a bit of a blow - 20-30mph, and I've never really been interested in racing until I got my boat and decided to join a club.

    So... rewind to 2 weeks ago, and I decided to enter my first ever race (apart from on holiday). The forecast was pretty windy, but I figured it'd be a good laugh(!) My club doesn't have many Lasers, so I was the only one there; come to think of it I was the only single-hander on the water (other boats were GP14s and Merlin Rockets). Anyway, the wind was howling.... I launched, got a couple of excellent reaches in to warm up, got across the line a bit late, got round the windward mark, and it all went a bit wrong from there.... I deathrolled on my way to the 2nd mark and spent the next 15-20 mins righting it, capsizing, righting it, sailing a little way, capsizing, righting it, tiller out of stock - capsize, righting it, sail, capsize - you get the picture. I finally got around the 2nd mark and made my way back in to shore to have a rest because I felt dangerously fatigued.

    Windspeed...? I obviously wasn't studying the anemometer much during all that, and it doesn't work when submerged (!) but it does record the maximum for later reference. The max recorded gust speed was 47.6mph (about 41 knots).

    The thing that surprised me was that many of the other boats out there were managing to stay upright.

    So, my questions are these:
    • Should I have been able to stay upright just like the double handers that were out, or am I just rubbish?
    • Do us Laser sailors have it harder than other boats in a real old blow?
    • Can anyone stay upright in a Laser in that wind at all points of sail?
    • Kicker (vang) hard on or loose? - I've had conflicting opinions, I reckon loose, but was persuaded to go tight that day (by a Merlin sailor).
    I await your judgements!
    :)
     
  2. Quagers

    Quagers Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Sounds pretty standard for downwind laser sailing in big breeze for anyone other than seriously good sailors. I am not the person to give advice on this area but dont get disheartened, this is probably the hardest part of laser sailing and it takes alot of practice before your competent in it. But remember there are limits to your skills, and the moment you feel out of control out there you should be thinking hard about coming in. Does your club have rescue cover?
     
  3. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Quagers gave you good advice. Don't be too hard on yourself. Sailing downwind in big breeze requires lots of practice, and accordingly, swimming. I know I would have been in the water for sure under the conditions you describe.

    Try to study Steve Cockerill's video (The Boat Whisperer; Downwind) for hints on what to do and not to do.

    Regarding your specific questions
    1. See above
    2. Yes, Lasers are harder to keep upright compared to most other boats
    3. As I recall, the cutoff for the World championship is about 30 mph (or knots; not sure)
    4. Vang should be on somewhat. And don't let your sail out beyond 80 degrees or so.
     
    • Spam Spam x 1
  4. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I laughed out loud when I read this. ;) You are doing fine.
     
  5. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Hi Turtled,

    This sounds like the weekend that the 8.1 nationals were on. Racing was canned on the Sunday because of the wind (and the huge and unpredictable gusts. I would say you did fine to survive with no broken bits or broken you!

    Personally I will go out in most winds and give it a go. I have sailed the Laser at my home club is a 25kt (sustained) 30kt (gusts) and it is hard work....very hard work. The Laser is probably one of the most physical boats out there. If your boat handling is not top notch in those conditions you are swimming!

    I would say perhaps stick to less breeze for now and try to crew for an experienced helm when it blows like that (I tend to make a guest appearance in the front of a Fireball when it gets seriously windy). Or if you want a laugh buy an old radial rig, they can be great fun and are much quicker than the standard rig when the breeze is on (as long as you don't mind your mates calling you a girl for sailing in one).
     
  6. fat-n-old

    fat-n-old Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    "Or if you want a laugh buy an old radial rig, they can be great fun and are much quicker than the standard rig when the breeze is on (as long as you don't mind your mates calling you a girl for sailing in one)."

    I second this...the most sailing fun i've ever had is using an old radial rig on a windy day...
     
  7. arm

    arm arm

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Jeffers...you made me laugh :)
     
  8. stuck in the 80s

    stuck in the 80s Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I think the Sunday in question made me realise I was too old & unfit for a laser, the nearest thing I could describe it to (to a non laser sailor) was being strapped to a chair & a fire hose sprayed at you for 10 minutes at a time, the only relief was when I capsized, which I might add did happen on more than one occasion.
     
  9. groove

    groove New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For me, and I am VERY new to the sport... 12 MPH winds are about perfect and anything over about 18 starts to get hard to handle the boat.
    As I gained confidence over the summer, I felt more and more comfortable in higher winds. Still though, I cant imagine 46 MPH gusts!!

     
  10. Turtled

    Turtled Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Thanks for all the replies, it makes me feel a little better about it - I just could not see how everyone else seemed to be managing....

    In terms of managing to break things, I woke up the next day with everything aching like mad - especially my thighs and biceps - I've never felt like I've had such a workout in such a short period of time on (and in) the water ever! I keep telling my wife that it is good for me!

    Quagers - yes, we have excellent safety cover on race days. On that day, I considered them my personal chaperones! I think they were pretty concerned because I wasn't in a dry suit and I was in the water for a long time, and I'm new to them. They weren't to know I had about a million Rooster layers on to keep me warm... Although I did exactly as you have said - I called it a day when I realised the conditions were too much for me.

    My top tip for Groove..... I remember the turing point for me (when I really started to feel like my sailing was coming together pretty well) was when I learned the confidence to stay hiked-out even when I hit a lull or a shift, just sheeting in and/or bearing away to get the wind back in the sail; rather than what I used to do, which was to desperately try to scrabble back into the boat to avoid it capsizing on top of me. I realised that even if you get tea-bagged (I believe that's the terminology (?)) into the water, it is rare to actually capsize backwards (though it doesn't always work!). I remember the first day I learned that, and it was the best feeling ever! It helps with confidence, which helps you to keep the boat flatter rather than fighting the rudder as the boat heels over - which makes the whole thing less tiring!
     
  11. Sailorchick

    Sailorchick Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The UKLA supposedly won't hold racing if the average wind speed is over 25knots (hmm, think they broke that rule at Weymouth Q this year!).

    There is a big difference to me in what is sailable and what is race-able. When racing once it gets much over 25 knots I think it starts to become survival. You watch the fleet and its very obvious that all but the top sailors are not thinking tactically, just thinking of how to keep upright and make it round the course in one piece.

    However, going out for a sail in winds over 25 knots is soo much fun. Plus the only way to increase your racing limit is to go out in stupid winds so that when you do get huge gusts coming through the race course you can work them better as you have sailed in them before in a no pressure situation.
     
  12. Turtled

    Turtled Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    That's a good point. I'd not really thought about it like that, but yes... I've had some great fun in big (ish) winds when I can choose the best point of sail for control rather than trying to get to a mark fast. I also think I need to get my hands on a Radial rig for such days! And I want a Rooster rig too...!!! (Not for those days though!!!)
     
  13. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Speak to Rooster on the 8.1 they were selling the 'hired' rigs from the nationals off with a £40 saving over new (not bad for 1 day light wnd use). Or if you want to try one and are near Cambridge on a Sunday in the near future give me a shout you can borrow mine for a couple of hours.

    Oh Sialorchick....would you have liked to have gone out for a blast on the Sunday of the 8.1 nationals??? I was quite happy to be in the clubhouse when that squall came through!
     
  14. Sailorchick

    Sailorchick Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I think if we had launched on time we would have got one race in before the wind built to silly levels. It would have been hard work but fun. When that squall came through that was pretty ridiculous and I don't think anyone would have been left upright. Glad we weren't out then!

    Was a lovely afternoon when we got home though, almost as soon as got down to A27 it brightened up and the wind moderated nicely. Shame the tide was out at Weston when we got there.
     
  15. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I was quite nice but the time Jon and I arrived back at Hunts (we did stop for food on the way though). I had just about dried out by then as well I was soaked to the skin!

    The tide was out a Wier Wood too, didn't look like it was coming in any time soon either!
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    One of my club mates in what is getting pretty close to upper wind range. Some may even say a little beyond it.

    Gusting to over 40knots on a short chop.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    38
    When the weather map looks like this it might be a tad much for Lasering

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Beachcomber

    Beachcomber Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    FYI, with an anemometer mounted on the boat, what you're measuring is not the true wind, but the relative wind, which is the true windspeed added to the boat speed, as vectors. On any point of sail higher than a broad reach, the relative wind will be faster than the true windspeed.
     
  19. Turtled

    Turtled Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I'm not going to try to convince 'the wife' of my need for a Rooster 8.1 rig anytime soon, though that sounds like a tempting offer. Jeffers, on the subject of tempting offers, I'm unlikely to be anywhere near Cambridge anytime soon, but thanks for the offer - if I find myself down that way with a bunch of time on my hands I'll get in touch!

    I realise I'm measuring apparent wind, but I really wasn't adding much to the party when I was beating...! I did get a couple of broad reaches in, but because of the design of the anemometer and the way it is mounted on the mast, it won't get particularly good airflow from the direction of travel. Undoubtedly it will have made some difference, but I suspect little in the context of the day in question. Fair point though.

    On the subject, how common is it to have something like that mounted on the boat - what kit do other people use? I ended up making my own bracket because I couldn't find one to buy. Also, does anyone know if it is class legal to have such an instrument on the boat?
     
  20. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I am pretty sure the only 'instrument' of any kind that you are allowed on the boat is a traditional (non-digital) compass. even this may be restriced to certain manufacturers/models.

    AlanD will no doubt correct/add to this as appropriate!
     

Share This Page