Capsize Recovery

Thread starter #1
I'm very new to Laser sailing and don't have a lot of experience righting the boat from a capsize (As a clumsy keel boat sailor I to be practicing this technique a good bit - ha!). Recently I had quite a time getting the boat to come back up by pulling on the dagger board. I'm fairly light, 138 lbs.. Any advice on how to make this easier would be much appreciated.
Point 'er into the wind, grab a hold of that daggerboard (fully out I might add, you need the leverage!) and get as much of your weight out of the water. Be patient and hang until the boat rights itself. Don't get smacked in the head!



Upside down?
Staff member
Good advice!

I am around 150 lbs and I do have a bit of a hard time as well when I am in the water with the full rig and it's windy. It's definitely easier for me to get the Radial back up.


New Member
As the boat goes over, try to jump over the top and land on the dagger board. It makes for a much quicker recovery. Also, when the boat comes back up, try and step back in. If done correctly, you won't get wet!
yeah... just do it this
way ;-)

Some catamaran sailors bring a big trash bag with them that they can fill with water and hang over their shoulder to get more leverage to right the boat from the water, but even the lightest person should be able to right a Laser... just hook your toes into the underside of the gunwale and try to climb up on the dagger board. It will pop right up even if it's completely turtled.

The only capsize I couldn't recover from was when my mast stuck in the mud in the C-15


Just sailing
When you're trying to climb out of the water onto the daggerboard, kick you legs in the watter a little bit. It will give you some extra umph.
In one of my CYA bronze sail courses, we had a girl who couldn't have been more than 110 lbs. We were doing dry rolls solo in Club Juniors. Even with her weight all the way out on the centerboard, she couldn't get the boat to right.

The only way she was successful was when she grabbed the mainsheet and used it as a handle to get her weight even further out on the board, away from the hull.

Given that you're bigger than she was, and the Laser is much lighter than the CJs, you should be able to manage, even if it doesn't go as quickly as you'd like.
Now this is an area I'm an expert in!

You don't say in your original post... when you were having a hard time getting the boat up, were you basically in the water or on the centreboard?

Obviously, attempt to keep your capsize 'dry' if you can, by hopping over the side of the hull onto the board. If you're 'wet', read on...

I'm 180lbs, and if I'm 'in' the water it can be hard to get enough leverage when it is breezy. The key thing is to get as much of your body out of the water as possible. You don't have to be completely on the centreboard (sometimes safer not to be), but pull yourself up into a position where you are 'pushing' down on the board rather than pulling down on the board.

The first thing is to get the boat lying sideways on the water - ie not turtled. Until you're a bit more experienced, don't try to link the de-turtling with the capsize recovery. De-turtle as quickly as you can, the less time for water to get into the boom and lower mast the better (the upper mast should be sealed, but if it lets water in it can cause real problems staying upright - as I know from experience). To de-turtle, just get hold on the centreboard and stand on the gunwale; unless your mast is in the mud, it should come up quite easily.

Forgot to say, if the boom / sail is sticking up in the air, the first thing to do is to get it down into the water by pulling on the mainsheet as fast as you can to minimise drifting.

Once the boat is lying sideways, head to wind is preferable, (swim it round if you're bothered...), you need to get your weight over the centreboard. Here's my first top tip - do this from the forward edge of the board; DON'T try to do it at the trailing edge. The angle between the board and the hull is wider at the front, and the gunwale is slightly closer for grabbing onto to pull the boat further down. Now, my second top tip, if you can hold the boat at about 45 degrees (ie. half way to upright), it will now gradually spin around into a head to wind position (unless it is really windy). At this point everything is pretty neutral so you should be able to pull the boat flat and hop in, using the grab rails and toe strap to help you.

My third top tip (linking back to why it is sometimes safer to be in the water rather than on the board)... familiarise yourself with the concept of the 'San Fransisco roll'. Steve Cockerill explains it quite well in the latter half of this document:

If it is windy, be ready to use it - it feels fab when you manage to do one successfully - almost worth capsizing for! (And is far less tiring).

Final tips...
Make sure your centreboard bungee and centreboard brake is tight / good enough to stop the board falling out if turtled.

Make sure you either use a mast retaining clip or a knot in your cunningham line so that the mast can't fall out when turtled.

I hope that makes sense... Good luck with the practice!
If I end up in the water, I climb back up on the board hang on to the gunwale/deck, put my feet towards the end of the board and shift my weight a little to get it up quick, then as it comes up you have to make your way into the boat.

Another way that can also work is hanging on to the end of the board, some people hang on to act like a bulb on a keel and then come up on the other side (going under the boat). This helps if the boat keeps capsizing back on top of you in heavy air.

If you can reach the gunwale/deck near the center of the boat you can pull it up quickly this way as well, you have to ease off as the boat starts to come over or it might capsize on top of you. Get in when the boat is flat.

Turtles require that you climb up on the boat, start by hanging off the blade with your weight on one side, as the boat comes up more climb on to the board and finish like the first method. If the board comes out, you have to get it back in before you can right the boat.
As the other posts said - the key is getting as much of your weight out of the water as possible.

Make sure you're not bending at the waist. If you keep your torso straight as you lean back you get better leverage and the boat will come up pretty easily.
I am new to sailing too and not a little depressed. I am a big guy and have no trouble righting the boat from a capsize.
My problem is i can,t get back in it.Today i capsized a Bahia ,I used the dagger board to right the problem but then I can,t get back in from the side .I am told to try getting back in from the back?
I weigh 105 kgs and I know i am not too fit but surely it can,t be that difficult?
Any advice welcome.
My sailing club's boats have masthead floats, I'm struggling to learn to right my laser without one, in higher winds. If you see the boat coming back down on you take a breath.

For the Bahia
With 2 people, one person can grab the hiking strap and counter your weight while you climb onto the centerboard using the Bahia's pipes? on the bottom. Once you are on the centerboard, the person on the hiking strap can stop counterbalancing and float freely, still holding on to the hiking straps. You can grab the shrouds, and as the boat comes up flop in.
If that doesn't work or you are singlehanding, it is easier to climb in from the back, you can grab the tiller, and try and kick the water to get yourself in. I've tied the jib sheets together on a lido and used that to help pull myself in from the side but the bahia is lower in the stern.
Thanks khuie,
I was singlehanded and to get in from the side ,(If you have not flipped in as she rolls up),is impossible for a heavy person.The boat just rolls.
Over the stern has to be the way. I will let you know. :)