Rudderless Sailing Theory/Roll Tacking Technique

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Capsized, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. Capsized

    Capsized Member

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    I was thinking about this while reading the 'by the lee technique' thread, and figured I'd ask in a new thread instead of hijacking.

    So, According to the behavior of the hull during rudderless sailing, the boat will head up when heeling to leeward, and will bear off when heeled to windward.

    With this in mind, the best way to carry the most speed through a tack (by my logic) would be to:

    1. Let the boat heel to leeward by moving body weight towards the centerline.
    2. Let the tiller find its way to leeward as the boat heads up, as in my mind, resisting the natural tendency of the rudder will act as a brake.
    3. Boat comes through the eye of the wind, level with rudder still where it wanted to be at the start of the turn, and still rotating towards the new tack.
    4. Sail begins to catch wind on new tack, and begins to heel to the new leeward. Let the rudder move freely to neutral position and hold it there.
    5. Now climb up the hull, under the boom to the new windward side.
    6. Let your body's weight level the boat, pumping the sail in the process, and accelerate out of the tack.

    Am I out to lunch with my rationale?

    I've watched roll tacking on youtube clips ( for example) and it seems that the boat is heeled to windward (making the hull want to bear off) while the rudder is pushed to leeward (making the hull want to head up). To me these motions at the same time act like an 'e-brake' as was described in the 'by the lee' thread, and the boat will not carry as much speed through the tack.

    What do you all think?
     
  2. oatsandbeans

    oatsandbeans Member

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    This is interesting- I have never understood how the roll tack works in that we roll the boat over to windward and want the boat to luff up into the wind whilst using as little as possible rudder. The windward heel of the boat should normally get the boat to bear away but this is obviously not significant as the boat does luff up. This all appears to happen whilst not using a major amount of helm, if we just let the helm move where it wants to go, rather than force it across at the start of the tack which is definitely slow.

    On a similar topic I have often thought that it would be possible to gybe a laser without using any rudder. If you look at a video of a really good reach to reach gybe this can be done with very little helm ( You tube Gorge Laser training 2008 at 2mins.55secs.) This is a bit like a windsurfer flare gybe at speed (for any old windsurfers). The heel of the boat with the board down does all the work in turning the boat and as there is no rudder involved it is really fast ( have a look at the video) Gybing without having to worry about the helm could be a lot easier, as you approach the gybe mark flip a bit of bungee over the tiller and do the rest with boat heel the "first no hands gybe"
     
  3. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    The point about getting the rudder to follow the turn of the boat is the most important here.

    You need to be using rudderless techniques to initiate the tack (heel and sail set) and then getting the rudder to follow and stop the turn.

    This is also useful to remember when rounding marks. You can use the same techniques to start the turn and give yourself a smooth and controlled rounding. The most common mistakes on the bear away I see are people not letting the main out on a bear away quick enough and the boat heeled to leeward and them taking big handfuls of rudder to try and get the boat to turn (often resulting in a swim).

    If you are serious about want to master the rudderless technique then borrow a balanced 2 sailed boat and go out and have a practice using boat heel and sail set so turn the boat. Once you get the basic technique it is surpisingly effective (but not easy).
     
  4. Quagers

    Quagers Member

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    Not easy at all! expect to spin in circles for a while, also once you've got the hang of it try it with a spinnaker adds a whole new dimension.
     
  5. Capsized

    Capsized Member

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    Spin in circles indeed! My first couple attempts at rudderless were about that productive, but once mastered, it gives quite the satisfaction and validation of one's understanding of hull balance, and sail trim. Haven't tried it with a spinnaker, but that would be interesting.

    Has anyone managed to go rudderless in a cat-rigged boat like the laser? I would imagine it would be much more difficult to get the center of effort forward enough to bear off, but its probably possible.
     
  6. Sailorchick

    Sailorchick Member

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    My first real go at rudderless was on a training weekend with Jon Emmett. We'd all just tied off our tillers and were trying to figure out how to do it and get in a line (supposed to be doing follow my leader rudderless) when a racing fleet of yachts heads our way. You learn pretty quick with that lot bearing down on you.

    But in all seriousness, Jon got us doing follow my leader and sailing a triangle rudderless within one afternoon session. Its a really useful skill to practice (I don't do it nearly enough) and it really does help with all your other boat handling.

    In a laser tie your tiller so that the rudder is straight (don't lift/remove the rudder) then have fun with it. Try not to pick too windy a day for your first go :)
     
  7. Capsized

    Capsized Member

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    I'll have to try it with the tiller lashed. In my head that seems like it would be easier than doing it with the rudder out of the water, where you only have hull and centerboard/daggerboard providing lateral resistance.

    Of course, things that seem easier in my head rarely turn out to be so. :rolleyes:

    Either way, I've still got at least a month before I can hit the water. More snow in the forecast this week, temperatures below freezing, and the rivers/lakes/resevoir are still frozen over...and it's nearly the end of March! Grrrrr.
     
  8. Nipper

    Nipper New Member

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    I don't think you could ever sail a Laser or in fact any una sailed boat without a rudder, you would just spin in circles. As Sailorchick says, you have to tie the rudder on the centreline to do rudderless sailing. It is the reason why windsurfers have skegs, you needsomething in the water to keep the hull tracking and resist the action of the wind on the sail. Rudderless gybing in a Laser would be very interesting, I think you would either never stop going from one gybe to another, or gybe, and round up head to wind.

    In 2 man, 2 sail boats, you can sail without the rudder entirely, and the longer the boat the easier it is (again because of the hull's inherent desire to go straight) With 2 sails you can balance the boat (jib in to bear away, main in to luff up) as well as the body movement as previously described. It is also much easier with a centre board boat (using 1/2/ board) than a dagger board boat, as again the 1/2 board helps keep the boat in a straight line.

    One thing sailing without a rudder does teach you, is the impact of the power of the mainsail leach. Pull the kicker on, pull the main in a bit and all you do is luff straight up into wind and tack. Personally I think sailing without a rudder is a practice for light air sailing, as you can really see what trim and body movement do, smoothness being the key.

    This is actually getting away from the start of this thread, where the phrase "rudderless" is being used to describe minimising the use of the rudder. In roll tacking you want to just let the rudder follow where the boat wants to go. This is especially true in the first part in getting the boat to luff up, but then when you have the boat on top of you on the new tack, the bringing it back up to level again, is more about getting the mainsail through the air to generate the "squirt" forward you get when you sit on the side and sheet the main in, rather than minimising the use of the rudder.
     
  9. oatsandbeans

    oatsandbeans Member

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    The reason that I think that gybing without a rudder may work ( and possibly be really fast), is that when I have managed to go into a fast gybe with a bit of windward heel I have felt an amazing feeling as if someone has grabbed the front of the boat and is dragging it around at speed- bearing the boat off. The first time it happened it blew my mind and I chickened out of the gybe because it felt so weird and out of control, now I am used to it it feels great and it produces a terrific gybe, amazing turning circle, no threat of a capsize and great speed out of the gybe. This is just like gybing a long board with the dagger board down, when you get enough angle on the board it bites and the board spins round. If you can do that to a 3.8m board (without a rudder) I can't see why you can't gybe a laser at speed without help of a rudder. I'm going to give it a go ( as soon as the water warms up a bit!).
     
  10. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    You can sail a Laser in light winds without even having the rudder on the boat. The trick is having more cunningham on than you'd expect and then "steering" with trim and heel. Once you get the hang of it, it is an enjoyable drill. Without the cunningham tight, you'll stay in irons all day.
     
  11. Nipper

    Nipper New Member

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    Interesting, but I can see why it works, pulling the cunningham on opens the leach, and pulls the draft forward so that centre of effort the sails is closer to the centre of effort of the hull, as basically the hull "spins" around the centreline of the dagger baord.

    Have you tried sailing on a dead run without a rudder and controlled gybing, I just cannot think this is possible except in the very lightest of winds ?
     
  12. Nipper

    Nipper New Member

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    Do not forget that even on a board you still had a skeg, and although not moveable, it is still providing lateral resistance, which you need to stop the hull rotating around the vertical axis of the daggerbaord.

    Hence the practice that Sailorchick has done, where they tie the rudder on the centreline to do "rudderless" sailing.

    However as per Mythbusters, all theorys should be tested, so please try it and report back. (I personally will not be trying it this weekend as the sea temp is a balmy 8 deg C in the UK)
     
  13. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    Done and filmed doing it:



    Think of a windsurfer. The little fin in the back is only effective at speed and you can tack and jibe one in next to no wind. It's about adjusting or balancing the forces generated by the sail and the foil/hull-shape. Heel is one factor to change both, longitudinal movement of balast (you) is another.
     
  14. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    I don't know if this can be done on a dead run or not; if that is possible, I'm not good enough to have success with that yet. Close reaching to beam reaching is the easiest way for me to do this. Give it a try when you have a minimal sustained breeze and no chop. It really is an enjoyable drill.
     
  15. oatsandbeans

    oatsandbeans Member

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    Yes i think that it would be best to keep the rudder on for this ( maybe a bit of shock cord to hold it central). I think that it would be quite easy to get it to bear off and gybe but the tricky bit could be stopping it rounding up, as when the c board starts to lift the boat round, it all happens quite fast, and you would have to stamp down on the new windward side quick to flatten the boat out after the boom had come over. I think that it is worth a go
     
  16. lasersailer148085

    lasersailer148085 Member

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    Coming from racing laser radials for 3 years now in the Chesapeake area junior racing circuit you learn how to sail the boat in next to no wind. In the summer, unless you get a storm your best bet is about 5 knots. You really really learn how to use your body weight to get around the course the fastest. Im still a work in progress about my tacks but i feel ive got my gybes down to a science. While going dead down wind ( in 8 knots or lower ) start to sheet in a little and head a little by the lea. Pull the sheet in about 25% from 90 and grab the hiking strap with your forward hand and have the feet in the straps. Sit your butt out like in a roll tack and pull the tiller lightly towards you. You want to heel the boat enough so that once you use your hand on the hiking strap to pull you up and sorta "jump" up to the new rail you can look over the edge and see about a foot of board in the water, flatten the boat out and heal a little bit back to windward like your gybing the boat again but just to dead down wind so the sail won't flop back into the center line and leave you at square one. I also find in heavy air the same technique of grabbing the hiking strap works well with rounding down around windward marks, just a little heal to windward with the combination of letting out the sail really rounds the boat down sharply and its easy to confidently do so with your hand on the hiking strap instead of just having your feet. Hope this helps!!!
     
  17. Sean

    Sean Member

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    I did not watch the whole video but the big difference between that boat and a Laser is the dinghy in the youtube clip has a pivoting centreboard.

    That makes a world of difference when trying to sail without a rudder. You can easily change the centre of lateral resistance by pivoting the board fore or aft. That has the same effect essentially as raking the rig for and aft like a windsurfer does. Centreboard adjustment and angle of heel is enough to get by. You could even trapeze upwind with some practice on a Contender without your rudder for example, but you would struggle to sail upwind in any breeze without a rudder on a Laser.

    I think rudderless sailing on a Laser is best done with the rudder centered and tied off.
     

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