Launching ILCA with onshore wind


New Member
A bit of a silly question, covered tons before I am sure (but I could not immediately find the answer with search).

Its even more embarrassing because I am relatively experienced sailing dinghies, been sailing them for years. However, I lived abroad and mostly sailed from beaches or flat launching pads. Now I am in the UK and I have great difficulty launching Laser with a strong wing onshore and steep approach (quite typical in many British clubs on lakes/reservoirs). Its embarrassing but I had to abandon races couple of times because I simply could not rig/launch the boat successfully.

Essentially what I do- undo the outhaul altogether, lower the dinghy down and than try to rig standing in the water. My local club is quite deep so I usually stand waist deep. Every gust turns the boat on me, its absolute struggle, let alone I can't catch the outhaul/leech. Also, a lot of damage to the hull hitting the concrete/boom falling down on the deck. I tried lowering the trolley with the main rigged (mainsheet undone) but the sail can't really turn all the way towards the bow the dinghy is unstable and all over.

Any tips?
the sail can't really turn all the way towards the bow
Why not? If the sheet is undone from the traveller block, it should.
I always launch with the sheet threaded through the ratchet and boom blocks only, and with a slipknot as a stopper. That’s like having a 1:1 centre sheeting! When you’re well out on the water, you can thread the sheet in place. (Which is a little tricky in heavier wind, but has never failed!)

Also, let the cunningham and outhaul totally loose, and see that the mast retainer is long (or elastic) enough that it doesn’t restrict the 360-degree rotation.

Have you watched how others do this? How do they do it? Have you tried copying their techniques?
Is there never anyone to help you?

Do you have your boat on a dolly/trolley? If so, just rig on the beach like LaLi wrote. Insert the daggerboard (halfway) once you are in the water and lower the rudder before you climb in. If there's no one to get your dolly back on the beach, you may have to have a little buoy to tie you boat to temporarily as you put the dolly/trolley away.
This procedure could help.

Be sure the rudder blade is tight in the head, so it stays up on its own when moving boat on the trolley (regardless of launching issues). Completely rig the boat with all controls set to sail the boat for the conditions and launch the boat so off the trolley in 2-3 feet of water, so the mast tip would not touch the lake bottom if the boat were to be tipped over. Let the trolley start to float to shore. Then insert daggerboard and bungeed so just in below the boom when sheeted in tight. Put rudder blade in the halfway down position too. Sheet the main in tight and cleat or slip knot it off at the ratchet, then immediately tip the boat over on purpose because it will tip over anyway. The sail being in tight will keep the boom off the lake bottom. While on its side, push the hull away from shore a bit and run the trolley to shore the sail will act like a sea anchor and the hull will pivot back in. Run back out, meet and right the boat, and quickly ease the sheet. Aim for the best close reach angle from shore, jump in on the windward side while partially sheeting in and off you go. Do the opposite steps when coming back in.