Downwind Practice turns

Thread starter #1
- chilly day on Tomales bay, and a good time to work on keeping the boat moving through the gybes. (1981 Laser, 2006 sail - I have newer sails, but glad I used the beater this time as my last gybe of the day resulted in a complete turtle capsize and mast stuck in nasty mud!)


Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Just watched that video, last thing I'd ever do is let the sail & boom slam across that way in uncontrolled fashion... good way to stress-test gear, fittings, maybe initiate some stress cracks in your mast step. A little control goes a long way toward reducing all that stress. Over decades of Laser sailing, I found that smooth and precise tiller movements are important for maintaining boat speed, whereas jerky or drastic tiller movements invariably create rudder drag and slow the boat. The daggerboard should be raised whenever one is sailing off the wind, particularly while sailing a deep course just prior to gybing, otherwise the boat may trip over the dagger as she gybes. A good skipper will figure out how high to raise the dagger when sailing off wind, assessing factors such as wind strength, gusts, surface chop, potential for planing, etc. Truth be told, I'd often raise the dagger a tad when close-hauled or on a close reach, provided it wasn't too breezy and I could counter this action by hiking out... less hydrodynamic drag on wetted surface areas (including the dagger sides) meant more boat speed. This also held true for the Minifish, which could really fly with the board raised a bit, even when sailing to weather... only when the wind picked up for real did I lower the dagger all the way. My good friend "T-Bone" (or Tommy) whose family ran the surf shop for over three decades, he'd always comment upon how fast my boat crossed the channel if he was out paddleboarding and I zoomed past him, LOL... :eek:
Thread starter #5
Hi, Ghost Rider. First, let me say a critical response is better than none! I actually believe that in my gybes the boom and sail are not really "slamming" in an uncontrolled fashion. It has taken me decades of practice in the Laser to (a) keep the boat absolutely flat, (b) make the tiller movement (look again at the video) smooth and precise, and (c) then the loads and forces of the gybe are minimized. This maneuver is all about control. I think stress on the boat is a lot more if you lose control and capsize at speed - which you are likely to do if you don't have complete balance and finesse. You will note after the first couple of turns I did pull up the board. I do usually have the board partway up when I'm reaching or running. I don't race at all, and nothing makes me happier than to have a good wind and an imaginary slalom course for my boat. Happy Laser sailing to you!

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Wasn't trying to be critical, just making a few observations... didn't know that was you in the video either, thought maybe you were starting out when you mentioned capsizing in an earlier post. I get the part about not racing, I entered one race in my early years and beat some pretty stiff competition by eleven seconds on a breezy day in South San Diego Bay. Closest competitor(s) chose one side of the course, I chose the other... I've always been a good tactician and skipper that way, but I know that bay very well, all its subtle characteristics due to tide, currents, wicked surface chop in specific locations, etc. Some may call it luck, but on that day I chose the side of the course with more breeze and a favorable wind shift. Good race, but I remember holding the trophy and thinking to myself: "Better to sail without any racing agenda." Sailing is more of a spiritual thing with me, ya know? Of course, when two boats are traveling in the same direction, the race is always on, LOL... over the years, I racked up a pretty good score that way, but I work every angle out there, and I use the tides to my advantage whenever possible. An old goat like me, I need every advantage over some of these youngsters who pose a formidable threat to my "looking good" on the water... and that age doesn't help when life has made ya ugly, LOL. :eek:

Edit: Having said all that, I love watching the America's Cup & AC World Series Races on ESPN, LOL... best seat in the house, don'tcha know??? Maybe some of the onboard action and maneuvers demonstrated by those nautical hee-roes rubbed off on me, LOL. :confused:
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Rob B

Active Member
Gybes look fine. Unless it's light we're sailing with no more than 1/4 board up these days. An observation, you need the clew tight on the boom. This gives you better leech control when you put the vang on. Especially upwind in breeze. Leech control is critical. Also, you're doing a nice reach to reach course. Should you ever race you'll find on the W/L courses we sail very deep on the run legs. Always by the lee. This makes boat control more difficult particularly in waves as the boat rolls a lot and you can capsize to weather pretty quickly without being fast in the cockpit with weight shifting and quick tugs on the sheet to stabilize the boat. You're in flat water on the video. That's a great time to practice by the lee sailing and getting comfortable with it before you ad waves to the mix.
Thread starter #10
Proper "by the lee" sailing is more stable and faster, (which equals less load) than DDW. DDW is the death roll zone.
Since I don't race, I also don't sail DDW very often, unless it's the shortest course for the beach and end of the day. When I DO sail DDW, I definitely practice by the Lee and on the thin edge of a death roll. Mostly I love to work to weather and then enter my own imaginary slalom course, repeated gybes, "reach to reach" - and that is personally rewarding to me. (Oh, yes, Rob I also noticed my clew to the boom was off, and have tightened it way down!)