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Do Laser courses suck?

121062

New Member
Ahoy,

First time poster. Back when I had hair I used to race a Laser competitively. I went to the 1987 Worlds - Go Stu Wallace!

So I am thinking of getting back in for a bit of flat leg hiking but I did a bit of Master's sailing and the lack of reaching made me wonder. What is the point of sailing a Laser if you can't fang along on a few reaches? It seems that the old days of two triangles and a hot dog are gone. So is it fun to take a Laser upwind only to have to square run all the time? I used to love keeping the boom just tripping along the crests to leeward on a hot broad reach. We did a few reaches in the masters regatta but the long and fun reaches were replaced by a quick buzz to a second set of windward leewards.

I get that assymetric skiffs are fun on windward leewards but watching the Olympics has me yawning a fair bit. I pity the poor young 470 sailors who never get to blast along on a full power 3/4, or the Finn sailors doing the same, pump, pump, pump and never hang on!. And watching the Laser sailors plug up and down seems like lots of hard work for little reward. I was always fast on the square and this was a good part of my game, but do the masters just make their own courses and let the young ones sail boring windward leewards? Itcould be a deal breaker for me getting back. I loved training uphill and getting some full throttle 3/4s downwind made it a heap of fun. Are the courses still fun to sail? Does anyone still do reaches of any considerable length?

cheers

Phil
 

Eyeper

Active Member
I agree with you, Phil. I don't see the point of racing any sailboat if you don't include reaching legs.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Reaches are the most boring! In non-planing conditions they're just boring, period. The harder it blows the faster you go, and the more fun you do have, with the boat - not the competition. Unless someone wipes out, the order stays pretty much the same, as there are few major tactical choices available.

The practical factor, at which Wavedancer also hinted, is that the simple "hot dog" is easy on the organizers. You basically need only one mark boat, and course changes are easy.

That said, the most basic trapezoid course actually includes two upwind legs, two downwind legs, and yes, two reaches! Adjusting the lengths and angles of those, you should get something that satisfies most sailors in most classes.

_
 

121062

New Member
I guess maybe modern Laser sailing may not be for me. Training off Sydney heads and fanging along in swells and doing major championships in Adelaide and Melbourne with the boom clipping the swells to leeward is still a very fond memory. Getting the boat flat enought to bear away for a super long swell was very good training. As for tactics and position changes, I remember the gun sailors being able to sail through people to leeward and I was pretty quick and sometimes made up over 10 places if I got the tactics right. In one states I was buried (I was very rusty) and there was Glen Bourke next to me, very deep. By the end of the reaches he was at the front and I was further back. Reaches were a great spot for a good sailor to get through a mass of boats to leeward, that bit where the mob comes down slow and low at the end and you come in from below, with a boatlength to spare and gybe clear in front of the group, what a thrill. Best of all was the close quarter fanging, bows down, weight back, and just blatting along working out whether to go over or through, waiting for a wave to sail deeper and get through the lee. If I can't recreate the amazing rides of my youth in my youth, I should probably go race sports boats or train for Tasars, they still have long reaches.
 

Emilio Castelli

Active Member
I guess maybe modern Laser sailing may not be for me. Training off Sydney heads and fanging along in swells and doing major championships in Adelaide and Melbourne with the boom clipping the swells to leeward is still a very fond memory. Getting the boat flat enought to bear away for a super long swell was very good training. As for tactics and position changes, I remember the gun sailors being able to sail through people to leeward and I was pretty quick and sometimes made up over 10 places if I got the tactics right. In one states I was buried (I was very rusty) and there was Glen Bourke next to me, very deep. By the end of the reaches he was at the front and I was further back. Reaches were a great spot for a good sailor to get through a mass of boats to leeward, that bit where the mob comes down slow and low at the end and you come in from below, with a boatlength to spare and gybe clear in front of the group, what a thrill. Best of all was the close quarter fanging, bows down, weight back, and just blatting along working out whether to go over or through, waiting for a wave to sail deeper and get through the lee. If I can't recreate the amazing rides of my youth in my youth, I should probably go race sports boats or train for Tasars, they still have long reaches.
I love a windy reach but I love a downwind even more. I sailed in the 70s and early 80s and then stopped until 2010; the new downwind technique is so much fun and more challenging than a reach. Give it a try; you'll get hooked for sure.
 

chris williams

Active Member
I agree with Emilio. The downwinds are much more tactical than reaches and there is so much more opportunity to pass than on a reach. Plus gates at the bottom of the downwind are much better than having to try to go low - but not too low - to round the gybe mark and high - but not too high - to round the leeward mark on courses with reaches.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
I guess maybe modern Laser sailing may not be for me. Training off Sydney heads and fanging along in swells and doing major championships in Adelaide and Melbourne with the boom clipping the swells to leeward is still a very fond memory. Getting the boat flat enought to bear away for a super long swell was very good training. As for tactics and position changes, I remember the gun sailors being able to sail through people to leeward and I was pretty quick and sometimes made up over 10 places if I got the tactics right. In one states I was buried (I was very rusty) and there was Glen Bourke next to me, very deep. By the end of the reaches he was at the front and I was further back. Reaches were a great spot for a good sailor to get through a mass of boats to leeward, that bit where the mob comes down slow and low at the end and you come in from below, with a boatlength to spare and gybe clear in front of the group, what a thrill. Best of all was the close quarter fanging, bows down, weight back, and just blatting along working out whether to go over or through, waiting for a wave to sail deeper and get through the lee. If I can't recreate the amazing rides of my youth in my youth, I should probably go race sports boats or train for Tasars, they still have long reaches.
Those are wonderful conditions, of course. But relatively few regattas are run in conditions like that.
 

msanford

Member
Sailing (especially Laser sailing) is a thinking game of strategy, angles, tactics, along with sail trim/motions (that are legal of course). Downwind serves that dish up much better compared to reaches.

BTW - you don't have to pick just one boat. Sail two or more classes (will make you better too). Above all, get your adrenaline kicks as needed in other classes that probably hang from trapezes, do screaming reaches, and the such. If you remain bored in Lasers then you know your answer. I personally get my reaching kicks out in-between races on windy days. As well for me, I like 3 person dynamics and Spinnaker work. So the Lightning is my second significant other in sailing.
 

Tom Vollbrecht

New Member
The larger regattas typically utilize a trapezoidal course, which offers a couple of reaching legs. Interestingly, I found I'm still pretty quick on the reaches and am able to pass or catch up quite a bit on these legs.

With that said, I was like you when I re-entered the class a few years ago, highly skeptical of dead-down-wind sailing, but I've learned the error of my ways. DDW in anything over, say, 8 - 10 knots with some waves is a hoot, not to mention quite challenging in terms of learning and refining the technique. It's taken my 4 years of pretty high-level racing to get up to speed DDW, and I have a loooooong way to go to catch up to the like of Bret Beyer, but that's the fun of it; getting up the learning curve! Once you start doing it, you'll be simultaneously insanely frustrated and overjoyed with the ups and downs of modern ILCA DDW sailing!
 
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