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Can't depower the boat or keep the boom out of the water

When sailing a laser radial in 15+ knots im really overpowered

So i tried to depower the boat by cranking on the outhaul, Cunningham & vang

But i still couldn't sheet block to block upwind, because as soon as i sheeted on the boat heeled so much i capsized.

So i ended up with the main out as though I was reaching (& working it constantly from there). But this meant that the whole luff of the sail was bubbling.

Also, then, i suspect because i had so much vang on & the main out a bit, i could not keep the end of the boom out of the water. This kept rounding me up. We sail in waves which also probably didn't help.

I just spent the entire time fighting the boat & it was not at all enjoyable

Im not new to sailing, i have many years experience sailing crewed dinghies, so im not really sure where im going wrong. And its getting very frustrating :(

Help please!
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
When sailing a laser radial in 15+ knots im really overpowered

So i tried to depower the boat by cranking on the outhaul, Cunningham & vang

But i still couldn't sheet block to block upwind, because as soon as i sheeted on the boat heeled so much i capsized.

So i ended up with the main out as though I was reaching (& working it constantly from there). But this meant that the whole luff of the sail was bubbling.

Also, then, i suspect because i had so much vang on & the main out a bit, i could not keep the end of the boom out of the water. This kept rounding me up. We sail in waves which also probably didn't help.

I just spent the entire time fighting the boat & it was not at all enjoyable

Im not new to sailing, i have many years experience sailing crewed dinghies, so im not really sure where im going wrong. And its getting very frustrating :(

Help please!
Start raising your daggerboard in 3 inch increments until you can keep the boat flatter.

Also, ease up on your vang just a bit to raise the boom while in the waves. But to compensate some for adding fullness back into your sail by easing your vang, make sure you can pull as much power as possible out of your sail/twist the head with your cunningham.

Meaning, even though you are "cranking" on the cunningham, you may be able to do more by increasing the mechanical advantage of your cunningham set up. I found this to be the case when I recently got a newer sail that had heavier sail cloth and less stretch. Getting that last little bit of exta pull on my increased mechanical advantage set up on my cunningham made big difference.

Finally, it may simply be that the combination of your sail size, your body weight and your current hiking ability may not be enough for you to sail block to block in 15+ mph. But when you've maxed everything else out, all you've got left is reducing the size of your under-the-water foil. By raising your daggerboard in very small increments.

- Andy
 
Thanks!

Im getting a 4.7 rig as soon as i can.

If i pull my centreboard up, aren't i going to go sideways? And make the boat even more tippy than it already is?
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Have you been out on the water since that capsize you wrote about earlier? How's your shoulder?

In 15+ knots, you should be overpowered. Everybody should... if not, they're too big for good all-round performance.

You're doing pretty much the right thing with the controls; "crank" on the vang and cunningham (but not the outhaul), and work the sheet in and out with the bigger gusts (and waves, too, but that's really for later). The luff should "bubble" as steering higher is your secondary way of depowering. Only when you start losing forward force to excessive "bubbling" should you let the sheet out. You can sail the boat flat in 15 kn with the sheet blocks together, but you're not necessarily moving very fast forward as most of your sail is filling the "wrong" way (and you actually risk stopping altogether... more on that later, too).

Your main problem may be that you're trying to sail the Laser like a high-performance doublehander, which like to go low and fast even in medium wind. In a (non-trapeze) singlehander your priority is to go as high as possible, as the increase in speed doesn't compensate for the lost distance in most wind strengths.

Do you have a coach at your club who could watch you sailing? You may be doing wrong something that is obvious when one sees it but isn't apparent in your writing.

_
 
Thanks!

Unfortunately no coach. There are only two lasers sailing at my club. The other club nearby has a massive fleet of lasers but they are all training for World/Olympic level sailing & you only get coaching if you are in the Australian/Youth Sailing Team.

Whenever ive sailed in the past in other classes, ive depowered the boat effectively so that i could actually sail it, as opposed to fighting it. So thats why im not understanding what to do when im completely overpowered & that its normal in this class.

Ive also never sailed a boat where i had to have my sail set for a broad reach on a close hauled course to prevent capsizing. Surely not having the sail set correctly will never be fast?
 
Or do i not actually sail a close hauled course in wind? Do i only reach, so that my sail is set correctly? If so, how the heck do i actually get across the startline & to the top mark etc?
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Im getting a 4.7 rig as soon as i can.
As I said before, I don't think this is a solution. All that the different rig sizes do is to change the point of getting overpowered a bit up or down the wind scale, so they work like different weight divisions. You're the perfect size for the Radial, and I'm afraid going to a 4.7 would actually slow down your learning.

If i pull my centreboard up, aren't i going to go sideways? And make the boat even more tippy than it already is?
I'm a bit torn over raising the board to depower, but basically it does decrease the underwater surface/lever over which the sail is trying to capsize the boat. There will be more sideslipping, but it may be worth the compromise.

The other club nearby has a massive fleet of lasers but they are all training for World/Olympic level sailing & you only get coaching if you are in the Australian/Youth Sailing Team.
Go there. Ask how you could get some entry-level coaching. If they can't personally help you they should certainly know who can. Generally, get in touch with the local class people and ask a lot of questions. Get them to see how you're sailing. As fun as it is to help people virtually from the other side of the planet, it has its limitations :D

do i not actually sail a close hauled course in wind?
That's what it sounds like. Just steer higher into the wind. And if the boat heels, steer even higher. If you have to go so high that you slow down too much, then let out just enough sheet that you regain your speed by sailing a lower course.


_
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
If i pull my centreboard up, aren't i going to go sideways? And make the boat even more tippy than it already is?
Not if you do it in small increments and test how the boat's heeling and pointing responds during each 3 inch test. Start with it all the way down and when you are getting really overpowered raise it 3 inches, see how that feels, then raise it another 3 inches, see how that feels, etc. Eventually, you'll find a sweet spot.

Obviously having your daggerboard all the way down is best for going upwind. But if you are having such significant problems, you will probably gain windward performance by experimenting with a slightly smaller "under-the-water foil" if you already have your "above-the-water foil" depowered as much as you can.

- Andy
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Ask how you could get some entry-level coaching. If they can't personally help you they should certainly know who can. Generally, get in touch with the local class people and ask a lot of questions. Get them to see how you're sailing. As fun as it is to help people virtually from the other side of the planet, it has its limitations :D
That really is the best advice. I have a feeling that Sailorgirl may just be doing a few fundamental things not quite right. Things that 15 minutes with a coach would reveal. Raising the daggerboard some really is just a last resort.

- Andy
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Where are you based?

You seem to be doing the right thing. Don't worry about how much sail you dump, the main thing is to keep the boat flat and play the mainsheet. Once the boat begins to heels you need to dump more sail quickly before the boat heels to the point where the boom hits the water. If the wind lightens, pull the sail on. If you're sailing in waves, don't worry to much about height, just keep the boat speed up. If sailing on flat water, you can pinch up a bit in the gusts. If you have the fitness (this might take a couple of years) you can actually play the vang as much as the mainsheet.
 

Horizon

Member
Hi,

It sounds like you are in Sydney, have you joined/contacted the NSW Laser association to see if they have any training events coming up?

Also, I would agree with some of the other comments above in that you are the right weight for a radial and it is time in the boat to build up Laser fitness and technique that is more important and I would not worry about getting it "block to block" at this stage. Just work on sailing it flat and everything will come from there - but it will take time ( I speak as a 60kg Laser sailor).

I think it would be better to spend a little on some coaching rather than a lot on a 4.7 rig. Some coaching now, aimed at your level of Laser sailing, will give you re-assurance that you are doing the right things and then is is just more time in the boat. You will get there and it won't be too long before you can be having fun rather than frustration out there.
 

OneGoat

New Member
Learning to not fight against the boat is the first challenge.
Like I said in your other thread - Laser is a pig of a boat and it punishes you if you don't get it right. If you're fighting it, you won't win.

In heavy wind, you only need the leech of the sail to be flowing. If it wants to luff, let it luff. It's ugly, but it works.
So, let the sail out as far as you need to, to depower. Keep the boat flat. Flatter. Even flatter. If your boom is going in the water, you're not flat. Of course, that's one of the endearing ways the Laser will punish you... if you let it heel enough to drag the boom, that stops you from dumping sheet, powers the boat up, and makes it even harder to keep the boat flat. You'll fight the boat and you'll lose. You have to learn to dump the sheet before you heel to the point that you can't dump sheet.

So, you're beating to windward with your boom out, the luff fluttering but the leech flowing enough to keep the boat moving forward (a bit - remember the Laser is a sloooow boat, it takes a while to get used to how slow it moves through the water if you're used to something faster). What would happen if you keep the sail angled the same relative to the wind, but point the hull a bit higher under it (ie point a bit higher and pull an equivalent amount of sheet on)? You're still getting exactly the same power from the sail, so you're going to go about the same speed... but you're pointing higher so you're making better VMG, and will get to the mark sooner. And, as a bonus, your boom is in a bit closer and less prone to dragging in the water.
You don't want to overdo it though... point too high and you'll slow down, just like in a normal boat. So you're really trying to thread a needle between pointing so low that you're hopelessly overpowered, and pointing so high that you run out of power and stop.
Never mind that half the sail is flapping. It really doesn't matter. Use the power of the part that isn't flapping.
 
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Hi everyone

Just wanted to thank you all for your tips & advice

I did try a 4.7 rig & i was a lot less overpowered & it was a lot more manageable for me!

EVERY single time i capsize though i still CANNOT get the boat back up & have to wait to be rescued.

So after that happening 4 times now with no improvement i just don't think single handers are right for me.

Im going to take a break from sailing, for the time being anyway. Im just not enjoying sailing a laser at all. :(
 

Coastal Redneck

Active Member
Bummer... Laser sailing is so cool, but I get the part about not being able to right the boat. Hell, I had difficulty righting my Minifish one time when the wind was howling, just had everything go wrong at the worst possible time, ya know? Having crew or a passenger along could help, especially if they were good swimmers... I wouldn't give up sailing yet, just earn more money and buy a bigger boat, LOL. :cool:
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
EVERY single time i capsize though i still CANNOT get the boat back up & have to wait to be rescued.

So after that happening 4 times now with no improvement i just don't think single handers are right for me.
Having sailed single-, double-, and even triplehanded dinghies for decades, I can say that the Laser is one of the easiest boats to right. It's not the singlehandedness that is the problem. You're highly likely making some very basic mistake when trying to right the boat, something which a coach (or anybody knowledgeable) would notice immediately. Don't give up before you've had someone look at your sailing (especially capsizing!) closely.

_
 
Having sailed single-, double-, and even triplehanded dinghies for decades, I can say that the Laser is one of the easiest boats to right. It's not the singlehandedness that is the problem. You're highly likely making some very basic mistake when trying to right the boat, something which a coach (or anybody knowledgeable) would notice immediately. Don't give up before you've had someone look at your sailing (especially capsizing!) closely.

_
Unfortunately there just aren't really any coaches here :(
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
It doesn't have to be a "Coach" with a capital "C", anybody who's even moderately experienced with Lasers and willing to help will do. You just have to ask! If you haven't done it yet, contact your state class association (you might as well join it, too) officers and tell them your story and what you want. I'd be very surprised if you don't get any help.

_
 

torrid

Just sailing
Is it really windy where you sail? I'm in the middle of the radial/full weight range. When sailing a full rig, I only have the conditions you describe - unable to point, boom hitting the water, capsizing - on select days when the wind is 15+. On most days I can easily sail and control the full rig, I'm just not very competitive.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
I am sorry that you are giving up (for now). But one piece of advice we give on the other (Sunfish) forum, is that newbies practice capsize recovery by capsizing the boat on purpose while standing in shallow water. You won't be able to turtle your Laser, obviously, but this would still be a good exercise.

PS: As a 150 pounder I would love to show you, just send me some plane tickets...
 
Torrid, its generally about 15 knots, sometimes gusting over

The little amount of sailing i actually managed to do on Sunday (ie when I wasn't capsized), it felt way more manageable with a 4.7 rig - it was gusting to 20 knots that day.
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Torrid, its generally about 15 knots, sometimes gusting over

The little amount of sailing i actually managed to do on Sunday (ie when I wasn't capsized), it felt way more manageable with a 4.7 rig - it was gusting to 20 knots that day.
Where are you actually based?
 

torrid

Just sailing
It's nice to have that much wind as your everyday wind. However if that is the case, I think that makes it harder to learn the feel of the boat that ultimately helps you sail effectively in higher winds. As others have said, I'd hate to see you just give up. It's something that you are only going to learn with helm time.
 
Torrid, i don't really want to quit sailing but im not sure what else to do

Like on Sunday, it got to the point where the rescue boat told me i wasnt allowed to continue sailing (i was already going to go in anyway) because they had to keep on assisting me but that meant they couldn't watch the rest of the fleet. Fair enough too.

But it just means that unless i can somehow figure how to right the boat without help, i cant sail anymore.

I happened to sail past a capsized laser on Sunday & she actually righted the boat right as i was sailing past, so i could see exactly what she did. Her boat came straight up. She didn't climb on the centreboard - just put her arms over the end of the board & pulled down while pushing her feet against the bottom of the hull. The boat came straight up, no problems at all.

I copied what she did when i capsized but the boat just would not come up.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Strange. The only thing I can think of is what I already mentioned in the other thread:
one thing that may make a Laser harder to right is if you keep the sheet at its maximum length and the boom goes forward of the mast, the sail fills from the "wrong" side when the rig rises from the water. The solution is of course to tie the sheet so that the boom goes out to no more than 90° in conditions where capsizing is a real risk.
The sheet should be about 13.5 metres long for light air downwind, but in in heavier going you might want to tie the free end so that it's de facto shorter by 1 m (or so - you have to test it yourself, I just packed my own Laser away last week for the winter ;) ).

_
 
I would find a very sheltered cove or marina and pick a calm day to do some capsize drills. If it is close to the docks you can run a line from the bow and stern to a dock to keep the boat centered. You can tie a life jacket or small float to the tip of your mast to keep it from turtling. Assuming your weight is over 115lbs you should be good. Work on your upper body strength. Also release the Vang before trying to right the boat. Good luck.
 
I would find a very sheltered cove or marina and pick a calm day to do some capsize drills. If it is close to the docks you can run a line from the bow and stern to a dock to keep the boat centered. You can tie a life jacket or small float to the tip of your mast to keep it from turtling. Assuming your weight is over 115lbs you should be good. Work on your upper body strength. Also release the Vang before trying to right the boat. Good luck.
Unfortunately there isn't anywhere really

The marina here is full of powerboaties who think they own the place, capsizing in the boat harbour is not fun. You will definitely get sworn at repeatedly by some idiot in a powerboat. Been there, done that accidentally before, most of us have, but its something we try our hardest to avoid.

LaLi, ive been knotting my mainsheet so it cant go past the mast while learning (for when im running square etc).
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
AlanD im in Brisbane, Australia
If you go onto the Queensland Laser Association and find Jan Kemp's details. She should be able to put you in contact with someone that can come for a sail with you and give you some help. There is a very strong fleet at Royal Queensland, its worth dropping by and have a chat with some of them, people like Christine Bridge & Kerry Waraker will point you to someone able to help if they can't, I'mnot as much in the loop as I used to be. Mention my name and that I'm the former measurer from NSW.
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
LaLi, ive been knotting my mainsheet so it cant go past the mast while learning (for when im running square etc).
At this stage you only want to ease your mainsheet out to about 80 deg, not 90 deg to the centre line. Between 80-100 deg the boat becomes unstable or at least extremely sensitive to the change in direction of air flow across the sail (leech to luff or luff to leech).
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Jason
Brisbane from experience is fairly shallow water and it's easy to get your mast stuck in the mud in the venues I've sailed at, it might be different on some of the other river clubs as I've mostly sailed on the coast.
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Sailor-girl, rather than trying to climb onto the centreboard from being the water. As the boat capsizes stay in the cockpit area or get back there. Using the boom and cockpit climb over the gunnel and onto the centreboard, ideally avoid getting wet as each time you use a whole heap of energy.
 

torrid

Just sailing
I assume you are capsizing while beating to windward? Definitely try to recover as AlanD describes. Again this comes with helm time, but I can tell when a capsize is coming and it usually seems to happen in slow motion. I'm climbing over the side of the boat onto the centerboard as the boat tips over, never getting in the water completely.

Death rolls are a different story. I'm still trying to learn a graceful recovery from those.
 
Just a question: when i capsized last time i sailed, a girl jumped out of the powerboat to help me.

She did exactly what i had been doing, except i helped her. So both of us pulled on the centreboard with feet on the hull. The boat came up then.

So should it really take two 60+ kg girls together to right a laser?
 
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