Advice for really HEAVY winds -what a blast

Thread starter #1
I've been sailing the Laser for less than three months now -so just about everything is new .. and still exciting for me.

Yesterday was the harshest wind I've been in yet. The sailboarder dudes said it was a steady 30kts with one gust at 44. I managed not to die, managed not to capsize, managed not to break the boat. I did the same thing that the sailboarders were doing ... going from shore to shore on blazing reaches.

I had some problems though ... I could barely tack. I had the downhaul very tight and the outhaul tight too with no vang. What is the key to tacking in heavy winds? Im 6'2, 220 lbs.

Had a tough time hiking .. because the waves kept on breaking over the boat.

The bailers bailed too slow ... couldnt keep up with the waves breaking on the boat .. or the boat plowing through waves.

It was tough comming about ... stalled alot and got pushed around by the waves. Didnt try gybing .. would that have been easier?

Even on broad reaches I had some luffing ... which Ive never had in the calmer winds. How do I control that?

The telltales were all over the place .. are they much use in stiff wind?

Does having a wind vane even matter in that wind? ... downwind it just spun crazy ... and upwind it was pretty erratic.

Whats it mean when you cant feel any resistance in the tiller .. yes the rudder was connected and deployed. I happened when going over waves on reaches and a lot when going down wind.

On landing we tie the boat to a mooring ... walk on shore, get the dolly ... then come back to the mooring and load the boat. Even with the boom off the mast with her pointed into the wind .. the winds kept on capsizing the boat at the mooring. I said 'hell with it' and just kept her capsized while I got the dolly. Problem is that so much luffing I lost a batten when she went over.

And those damned sailboarders ... they must get the biggest kick out of flying 10 feet from the boat at twice your speed or flying over waves right in front of you. At least I dont have to jump out of the boat to turn around like many of them did.

Bill
 
#2
ya i just had a day like that was a blast to here on minnetonka. one of the things i learned is when your hiking dont go in and out so much just let the waves get you because you cant hike for long then and use hiking pants! ya i used to alwase have that problem with taking but learned to just kind of feather up slowly and tighten up my main and then when i get going tack because you cant tack when your on a reach and just head up. you just dont have the speed to the sails are flogin like crazy and gets anoyin! god i love sailing in heavy air!!! hope it helps a little
 
#3
o ya and might sound really small but go out of your way to head up and find shallow spots in waves so you dont get so much water in your boat and it wont slow you down as much. also kind of obvious but you really want to head up before the waves not head down because the wave will be going twords you and it makes you slide slip ALOT! i did it on gps one time and it looked like i tacked every 2 feet!
 
#4
Tacking is easier, but you'll find gybing more fun...
head down off the reach, that will be tought, at a certain point the boat will heel pretty violently towards you, you've got to stop it and then get back centered, keep going down until you're on a nice wave, you'll feel less pressure on the sheet, and thet is where you gybe, you'll probably be pretty far by the lee this time, so when the boom starts to come for you, you have to get to the other side and be in the strap before it fills. You'll probably wipeout a few times trying this, but thats part of the fun.
 
#5
sail with a tight hiking strap when reaching or you may go swimming. when tacking try to get some speed on a cloes-hauled course before tacking and tack in the shallow of a wave so the wave will help mull you around. you may not feel the rudder because the boat is not heeling, therefore alot less weather helm. since, when you accelerate, the apparent wind moves forward, you must constantly pump your mainsail, trimming to the telltales as much as possible, you will find that this will keep you screaming for alot longer periods of time. You will find that the faster you go, the more you have to trim in your sail.
 

Drew

New Member
#6
Yesterday was the harshest wind I've been in yet. The sailboarder dudes said it was a steady 30kts with one gust at 44. I managed not to die, managed not to capsize, managed not to break the boat. I did the same thing that the sailboarders were doing ... going from shore to shore on blazing reaches.

Bill - Your description of heavy air sailing with all its thrills is excellent! I can feel the salt spray, SW winds, and swells of my home waters of Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod as I read your account

I had some problems though ... I could barely tack. I had the downhaul very tight and the outhaul tight too with no vang. What is the key to tacking in heavy winds? Im 6'2, 220 lbs.

For tacking in heavy winds: 1. Consider weight placement (a windward heel helps the boat head off and leeward heel helps the boat head up) and 2. Sail Trim (pulling the sail in helps the boat head up and easing the sail allows the boat to fall off the wind) In heavy air, heading into the tack is not the problem because the two things that the boat needs in order to head up are already happening (1. leeward heel and 2. the sail is in) It's getting through the wind and onto the next tack that is the challenge. In order to better facilitate this, I suggest two steps: 1. as your boat passes through the wind ease your sail to allow your boat to head off (if you don't your sail will quickly load and your leach will push your stern down and pull your bow back up into the wind) and 2) hike hard on the new windward rail. These two factors - easing and hiking - will help you head off onto your new tack.

Had a tough time hiking .. because the waves kept on breaking over the boat.

One obvious adjustment that you probably tried was to move your weight back to get your bow up. Another tip would be to head up as you are going into waves to "punch through" the crest and then head off as you come down the backside of the wave. If you combine this with a 'ease-hike-trim' technique, particularly with a consistent swell pattern, you should feel a nice goove. Be careful not to steer too much. Tiller movements are quite subtle when this is done correctly

The bailers bailed too slow ... couldnt keep up with the waves breaking on the boat .. or the boat plowing through waves.

It was tough comming about ... stalled alot and got pushed around by the waves. Didnt try gybing .. would that have been easier?

Even on broad reaches I had some luffing ... which Ive never had in the calmer winds. How do I control that?

On the reaches in such winds, your apparent wind will move forward, necessitating that you trim your sail. It's pretty cool when you surf down a wave in a 30 knot breeze and see your boom float toward the centerline of your boat. When your boat speed cancels out the wind speed - it means your moving right along!

The telltales were all over the place .. are they much use in stiff wind?

I have found that a good rule of thumb is to keep your outside telltails flowing.

Does having a wind vane even matter in that wind? ... downwind it just spun crazy ... and upwind it was pretty erratic.

Whats it mean when you cant feel any resistance in the tiller .. yes the rudder was connected and deployed. I happened when going over waves on reaches and a lot when going down wind.

That means you are doing things right. At 220, you should be able to keep your boat flat in most conditions. This will help to keep pressure off your rudder. Remember, your rudder is a "brake," therefore, keeping the slip stream equal on both sides of it by using effective weight placement and sail trim means you go faster.

Happy sailing
 

Baja

New Member
#7
This is my first post, I've been lurking for a while on the forum though.
Wow, that sounds like great fun! I am just getting back into sailing after a 10 year hiatus. I used to sail Hobie catamarans and it sounds like the laser acts similar when tacking. I remember taking the cat out in tropical storm George off Florida's east coast and getting the whole boat airborne jumping the outrageous swells that were coming in. Kept upright the whole time and had a blast surfing in, but was so tired and beat up that we had to wait about an hour and recover before we could lift the boat onto the trailer. I have just made a deal for a used laser and will be picking it up next weekend. I can't wait to hit the water!
 
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