Upwind in strong gusty winds

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Alysum, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. Alysum

    Alysum Member

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    Yesterday in Sydney I was racing in strong VERY gusty northwest winds at 15knots with gusts reaching mid 20s.
    It was one of the worst races I've ever done :D couldn't keep the damn boat flat, capsized several times during a gust plus water was very choppy.

    Going upwind I pulled the vang as tight as possible, pulled the cunningham pretty tight too and the outhaul between hand and half hand length.
    It was pretty much impossible to keep the sheet block to block or near otherwise during a gust the boat would heel so much and capsize despite me and my 85KGs hiking out hard on a full rig.
    Got a couple of capsized to windward too when the gust stopped and didn't rush back into the boat in time.

    I had to let go the sheet quite a bit and it would often hit the water (amazingly the clew tie down strap came off, had to stop to fix it...).
    Was so busy hiking out and easing/pulling the sheet so I didn't have enough time/concentration to look at the waves and go over them properly :(

    So how do you guys manage in gusty conditions ? When a gust hits and the boat heels should I mainly steer into the wind and/or ease sheet or pray for god ?
    Any tips welcomed...
     
  2. sk8ingsailor

    sk8ingsailor Member

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    There's an old saying that goes like... ease,hike,trim
     
  3. Alysum

    Alysum Member

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    thats what Ive been doing and it resulted in capsizes, going in irons, getting bruises all over my arms, blisters on my fingers, etc... :D
     
  4. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, if there's waves, you don't want to pinch much because that will stop you. If you are overpowered, you should have the cunningham on all the way. I'd only have one hand width on the outhaul in overpowered conditions. You need some bag in the foot to help you get over the waves. If you can, play the controls, putting them on before the gust arrives. If doesn't work for you at first, leave them on. You'll still have to ease, hike, and trim, and the bruises just seem to appear like magic!
     
  5. RandyBreen

    RandyBreen New Member

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    sailing is just like every other sport, it takes insane ammounts of practice
     
  6. Alysum

    Alysum Member

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    yes it does I know.... just that here in Sydney the wind is very different from the 4 directions and this one was a rare one but good for learning.

    how should I approach waves ? I must say it was the first time really I faces big waves as I usually sail in flatter water bays.
     
  7. Nicko

    Nicko New Member

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    I was out in similar conditions last week. the first lap of the race on the upwind leg it was a nightmare having to ease so much the boom was in and slowing me down,couldn't keep it flat at all.
    The next lap, I cranked on the cunni, tightened the outhaul a few inches,it was like sailing another boat.It meant I could concentrate more on going straight and keeping on the edge of the wind. It was pretty flat which meant pinching was possible,(but only if you have control of the boat!!)so a lot less effort.I still had to hike hard and ease some, but nothing like the first lap.
    It is amazing how sensitive lasers are to their controls.
     
  8. almineev

    almineev New Member

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    >> Going upwind I pulled the vang as tight as possible

    that's the key. you were overpowered with closed leach. if vang was free and you eased the sail the top third of the sail would open and bleed off gusts
     
  9. laser158689

    laser158689 New Member

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    First, at 85kg ,you should be able to keep the boat flat except for the big gusts.

    Thoughts...

    1) Keep the boat flat. It will help "track" through the waves and you'll feel like you're being "pulled" to weather. This isn't superflat, but aim for that, and you'll feel it.

    2) Keep an eye to weather, pinch in the smaller gusts. This is not a big pinch, but requires some practice to find. And hike harder.

    3) Dump sheet in the big gusts. 3-5 ft between the traveler blocks. You need to have vang on hard. Make sure your vang will provide enough tension without deadending the blocks. Make sure you have enough purchase in the vang to approach deadending it - you don't want to have the excuse that you weren't strong enough to pull on enough vang. Watch the boom - it should go out, not up when you have the vang pulled on hard. And hike harder.

    4) C'ham to the gooseneck. Outhaul depends on your sail. If it's old, you can strap the foot if you have some bag above it. Otherwise, about 4-6 inches of draft (above the folds and wrinkles at the foot) will still provide enough power.

    5) Make sure your hiking strap is set properly. You should feel pressure on your calves and on the hiking pant battens. If your strap is too tight, you will be fighting to straighten your legs and wear out your quads too quickly. Too loose, and you'll slide around and not feel "locked" to the boat and not hike aggressively. Go out in 10-14kts and fiddle with your hiking strap adjustment until you find the proper setting.
     
  10. RandyBreen

    RandyBreen New Member

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    mike ingham once told me his preferred way of depowering the boat was to pinch
     
  11. Josef

    Josef New Member

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    Work with the main, if you do that correctly you'll be able to keep the boat going no matter how bad the rest of your stuff is trimmed =P (of course people with welltrimmed boats will go faster but the point is that it all comes down to working with the main).
     
  12. RandyBreen

    RandyBreen New Member

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    basically, ease, hike, trim for the short puffs, and pinch for the more consistent ones, and work the smaller lines accordingly as well
     
  13. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    yeaaaa nooo


    If your overpowered, you need to crank the vang on, and vang sheet. By doing this, you let the sail out, but not up. I know some can describe it better than me. But its the way to go if you are overpowered. It's faster to ease off, and point down a bit, and power up and have speed, than to be 2blocked and heeling over and sliding.
     
  14. almineev

    almineev New Member

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    hmm, my experience tends to match this description (second paragraph):
    http://www.roostersailing.com/merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=xtrem&Store_Code=1
     
  15. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    well if its gusting every couple of seconds, you can go with that I guess

    try vang sheeting, dunno, it doesn't usually get crazy gusty here in SoCal
     
  16. Alysum

    Alysum Member

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    cheers for the advices but what does "to pinch" mean in sailing ?
     
  17. RandyBreen

    RandyBreen New Member

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    it means to push your boat as far to windward as possible while keeping momentum
     
  18. Josef

    Josef New Member

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    I pretty much always sail in really gusty conditions and I find that you need a decent bit of vang. I might use more vang in slightly lighter airs, not sure, but I still use a decent bit of vang in heavy and gusty conditions (I figure the boom might go out in about a 45 degree angle).
     
  19. knot_moving

    knot_moving Member

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    goes without saying (which is why it took so long for me to realize it !!). First thing is have your traveler really really tight, so that when you are two blocked you have as much mast bend as you possible can get - flattening the sail as much as possible.

    Then next thing that seems to work for me is adding lots of cunningham. The only limit here is that as the waves build it gets harder to keep enough power in the sail to keep going over the waves. - I have not yet pulled it on enough so it is below the boom, but I have had the bottom of the grommet right down on the boom.

    I also put on a lot of vang - this is sailing in 15ks steady gusting 25kts. As it gets up to 35kts and more I can see that you change to much more survival sailing & the rules might change. I have not had a laser out in those conditions.


    I consistently keep too much sheet in and not enough cuningham on during the races and struggle to go upwind heeled over. Then after the races are over I pull on more cunningham and ease the sheet, hike & take off with the boat flat, then magically I can sheet in a little - then start healing, ease out , hike like a maniac and take off again ...
    why can't I convince myself to do it during a race ????
     
  20. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    You have a lot to think about during a race, but I'll bet that now that you've said it, you'll be putting on more cunningham during races. I have trouble getting enough C on during a race, too. Pretty much, you have to stop everything else, brace your feet on the front of the cockpit, and PULL, then PULL some more. Meanwhile, your competitors have picked the shift that you just missed by fiddling with the boat and are pulling away. Then how do you keep all the extra line from getting tangled?
     

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