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New to Lasers (but not to sailing), looking for some tips & advice

Recently bought a laser after sailing double-handed dinghies for many years

Yesterday I sailed it for the second time. It was blowing about 15 knots consistently with gusts over & this had caused some waves to chop up.

I had a radial rig on & I weigh about 68kgs. I was so overpowered. I was hiking so far out that my bottom was hitting the waves, yet I still couldn't sheet block to block as I just could not keep it flat. I had outhaul, cunningham & vang cranked on hard.

When I was reaching the boom kept hitting the water because the boat was heeling over so much, even with me flat hiking & the sail controls cranked on - the luff of the sail was flapping (ie needed to be pulled on more) but I couldn't or I would have capsized. I know how to steer a boat on a reach (ie bear away in the gusts, sheet off if needed, hike hard, bear up again etc) but that wasn't working - it just made the boom hit the water even more which kept rounding me up.

Any tips? Do I need a 4.7 rig?

Also, I did end up capsizing but then I could not get the boat to come up. Nothing I tried worked. The mainsheet was free (not cleated or caught), the boom was in the water not in the air. I capsized to windward on a reach, not to leeward.

I ended up having to wait forever for the rescue boat to come & walk the mast up for me. :(

I know the waves weren't helping, but anything else I could try?

I'm a bit apprehensive about sailing it again now as I don't want to get stuck out there drifting away from the racecourse holding onto my capsized boat again.
 
Also, sorry for the double post, but some more questions:

Question 3:
I sail off a boat ramp (no option to beach the boat), so if I need to come in early (ie yesterday after the capsize when I had hurt my shoulder), how do I actually go & get my dolly & stop the boat from floating away/running into the boat ramp at the same time? Yesterday I stood in the water at the bottom of the boat ramp holding the boat for 15 minutes until someone finally got my dolly, because none of the other few people still onshore could be bothered to help. Is there another way I can launch & retrieve by myself without help?

The club I sail at is only really interested in the skiffs & aren't very supportive of single-handers (there isn't really an alternative club though).

Question 4:
How on EARTH do you get the laser onto the dolly by yourself? I put the dolly in the water & pull the laser onto it, but then one side support is under the gunwhale where it's supposed to be but the boat isn't on the other side support. No matter how many times I push the boat back off the dolly & reposition it, the same thing happens every time. Literally the only way to get it onto the dolly is to have a second person lift one side of the laser onto the side support as it's being pulled onto the dolly. Yesterday I wasn't able to do it (& like I said, no-one really wanted to help) so I spent forever at the bottom of the boat ramp trying to lift the boat onto the dolly. It's really frustrating & not sure if it's dolly related or if I'm doing something wrong
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Did you get your Laser so you could race it or did you get it for strictly recreational sailing only?
 

175590

New Member
Sailorgirl,

Sorry you had a rough day

1. How old is the sail? If the sail is blown out, the controls to de-power the sail become ineffective. It won’t matter how hard everything is on or how hard you hike, the sail will still be full.

2. How tight is your hiking strap? If the strap is loose then it is difficult to impart the counter weight into the hull.

3. Broad reach? It possible you cross controlled the boat since you capsized to windward or you were hiked out during a deep lull in the gust. If that’s the case the boat will roll windward. Drop the sail and bear away. It feels weird but has kept me in the boat and upright.

4. How deep is the course? Is there were waves and the water is shallow, the wave could have pick up the boat and then put the mast in the sandy bottom.

5. I launch on a boat ramp. I keep a line tied to my bow and mast while racing then use it to tie up the boat while I retrieve my dolly.

6. Push the dolly deep enough so it goes under the boat. I tie the bow to the dolly handle and pull the boat and dolly out of the water. if the boat is not seated well I just fix it out of the water or push the stem in far enough to float the stern and unseat and reseat the boat.

K-So
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
First, you're the perfect size for the Radial. That doesn't mean you won't get overpowered at some point - everybody will, with any rig. The different-sized Laser sails work like different weight classes, so don't think of switching to a smaller rig... unless you're going to drop your weight more than 8 kg.

I was so overpowered. I was hiking so far out that my bottom was hitting the waves, yet I still couldn't sheet block to block as I just could not keep it flat. I had outhaul, cunningham & vang cranked on hard.
Sounds like normal Laser sailing! The hull is so low that if there are any waves to speak of, your bottom should hit them. Hike with straight legs, with the strap tight so that going upwind it's about halfway between your ankles and toes, with the gunwale at about 1/3 up your thigh.

If it's blowing too much to sheet block-to-block, then don't! Keep the vang block-to-block tight and let out enough sheet to hold the boat flat. The cunningham should be tight enough to take out the horizontal wrinkles, but the outhaul doesn't need to be "cranked" on.

When I was reaching the boom kept hitting the water because the boat was heeling over so much, even with me flat hiking & the sail controls cranked on - the luff of the sail was flapping (ie needed to be pulled on more) but I couldn't or I would have capsized.
On a reach, the controls shouldn't be "cranked on", especially the vang should be much looser than its upwind setting, with the boom at about right angles to the mast. If you then need to "flap" or "flog" the luff (or most of the sail!) to stay flat... then you do.

Also, I did end up capsizing but then I could not get the boat to come up. Nothing I tried worked. ...anything else I could try?
Well, what did you do that didn't work...? The Laser is one of the easiest boats to right, just stand on the gunwale and hold on to the centreboard with straight arms. Did the mast get stuck to the bottom?

how do I actually go & get my dolly & stop the boat from floating away/running into the boat ramp at the same time?
How does the (d/tr)olley end up out of reach to begin with? But if someone else has pulled mine away from the ramp while I've been on the water, then I just pull the boat onto the ramp, and if it's made out of some boat-unfriendly material, I put my lifejacket in between.

How on EARTH do you get the laser onto the dolly by yourself? I put the dolly in the water & pull the laser onto it, but then one side support is under the gunwhale where it's supposed to be but the boat isn't on the other side support.
Sounds strange, mine positions itself almost automatically. You're probably either having the trolley too deep in the water (so the boat floats away to the side), or/and not keeping the boat flat while doing this. There's nothing wrong with the trolley itself if the boat sits nicely on it on dry land. What make/model is it?

And by the way, which doublehanded boats did you sail? Knowing where you're coming from might help to see what problems you're likely to encounter when adapting to the Laser.

_
 

OneGoat

New Member
I'm a (relatively) experienced Laser newbie too. I've come to accept that the strength of the Laser class is in that it's a nasty boat - it really punishes you if you don't get it right (or conversely, it really rewards good technique).
For starters - I assume you have current spec control line rigging? Turbo vang, cascade outhaul and Cunningham with deck cleats?
Tight rigging on a Laser is crazy tight. Especially when the wind is up, if your boom doesn't look like it's going to break, the vang is not tight. Cunningham should be pulling the cringe eyelet right down to (or past!) the boom. Crazy tight compared to anything else I've experienced. Outhaul not so important. I get less overpowered since I learned to _really_ crank the controls on.
Keep the boat flat, whatever happens. If it heels, you're fighting against it, and you won't win. If you have to ease and luff madly in a gust to stay flat, do that.
Righting - I can't help there were your shoulder, but note that the centreboard is exhaustingly high out of the water when the boat is on her side. Not such an issue when you go in to leeward and can step over the gunwale onto the board, more of an issue when you "death roll" to windward on a run or broad reach. Which happens a lot.
Steve Cockerill (Rooster) has a really good YouTube video about hull-steering through death rolls. It's long, but worth watching a few dozen times.
My club (Ballarat) is all concrete. We just leave our dollies in the water. If it's too crowded and dollies need to be pulled out for the next wave of launches, there should be enough people to help pull yours back in when you need to retrieve your boat.
To get the stern on to the supports (assuming you're getting the boat out stern first) - push the bow down to lift the stern! If the stern supports are just a bit high to float on to, that's ideal because it will hold the boat once you "lift" the stern and push the boat back on to them.
If you're pulling out now first - consider tying the bow to the dolly to keep it in place as you pull back and line the stern rails up.

Keep at it!
 
Thanks everyone!

LaLi when I capsized the boat was just on it's side, it didn't turtle. The water is relatively deep so it definitely wasn't stuck in the mud. I grabbed hold of the centreboard & pushed my feet against the bottom gunnel & leant back. I tried this multiple times & it didn't work. I couldn't actually climb onto the centreboard. There were steep waves though, not sure if that made a difference. I was out there by myself capsized for 15 minutes & tried that righting manouver repeatedly & it just didn't work. Not sure why. :(

Im in Australia so people may not have heard of the double-handed boats I sailed - but they are a class called 125's - two crew, single trapeze & symmetrical spinnaker. I also sailed Cherubs for a couple of seasons (two crew, single trapeze, assymetric spinnaker).

OneGoat, thanks I'll definitely check out that video! Unfortunately we have to put our trolleys out of the way after we launch as there are people carrying 16ft skiffs etc down the boat ramp so they are trip hazard. There are usually people willing to help if you come in with the rest of the fleet, but I came in early (I didn't even start the race) because I had hurt myself.

I am getting a 4.7 rig so I'll give that a try, at least while I'm learning to sail a laser. Once I get it figured out hopefully I can switch back to the radial.
 
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Ok, so, for the future - if I capsize & hang off the end of the centreboard & push my feet against the gunnel & the boat won't come up - what do I do? Is there another way I can right the boat if I physically can't get onto the centreboard?

I'm just really concerned about getting stuck out there again capsized & unable to get the boat back up.

I have no idea why it wouldn't come up. The boom was in the water (not up in the air) & the mast wasn't in the mud. I tried over & over & over again for 15 minutes & the boat would not come up. When the rescue boat FINALLY responded, they had to walk the mast up for me. Clearly I don't have reliable rescue boats at my club & I don't want to get in that situation again - it freaked me out. I ended up hoping I would drift far enough so that I'd be in the middle of a different club's training fleet & then their coach boat would be able to help me. I literally had no idea what I was going to do for a while there, because I thought no-one was going to come.
 

bclark3862

New Member
Try climbing on top of the CB. Pushing your feet against the side of the hull doesn't do much-- what does is getting as much of your weight out of the water and onto the top of the CB.

In regards to the ineffective safety boats, here is what I consider when I'm capsized:

1. The boat will always float, and so will you if you have a PFD.
2. Is the boat drifting toward shore/danger rapidly?
3. Is anything broken?
4. Is anyone injured (including myself)?

If the answer to the last three points is "no", then relax. You will be fine and just need to take some time to practice capsizing. Dry capsizing is far easier than wet capsizing when attempting to right a Laser, try and practice that and eventually you'll get better and have no qualms about capsizing.

Lasers do not sink, and neither do you as long as you have your PFD. My advice would be to go out and practice capsizing as much as possible before your next race. It's an important skill to learn the ins and outs of before you can sail confidently. Do that and you'll have a much better time on the water!

PS-- maybe go out with some friends/fellow competent sailors and practice, practice, practice anything you feel shakey about.
 
Try climbing on top of the CB. Pushing your feet against the side of the hull doesn't do much-- what does is getting as much of your weight out of the water and onto the top of the CB.

In regards to the ineffective safety boats, here is what I consider when I'm capsized:

1. The boat will always float, and so will you if you have a PFD.
2. Is the boat drifting toward shore/danger rapidly?
3. Is anything broken?
4. Is anyone injured (including myself)?

If the answer to the last three points is "no", then relax. You will be fine and just need to take some time to practice capsizing. Dry capsizing is far easier than wet capsizing when attempting to right a Laser, try and practice that and eventually you'll get better and have no qualms about capsizing.

Lasers do not sink, and neither do you as long as you have your PFD. My advice would be to go out and practice capsizing as much as possible before your next race. It's an important skill to learn the ins and outs of before you can sail confidently. Do that and you'll have a much better time on the water!

PS-- maybe go out with some friends/fellow competent sailors and practice, practice, practice anything you feel shakey about.
I couldn't climb onto the centreboard, I tried that as well :(

I'm still building up my upper body strength, at the moment it's pretty low & I can't get onto the centreboard. Plus in that particular capsize I hurt my shoulder which didn't help.

Hence why I'm hoping to find another way to right the boat if hanging off the centreboard doesn't work, until I build up enough upper body strength.

Plus, I was drifting further & further out into the bay & was concerned that no-one would see me. There are also large motor-cruisers that come through there from time to time & don't necessarily do the right thing (ie have it on autopilot with no-one on watch etc). Therefore I was concerned about drifting too far.
 
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torrid

Just sailing
Definitely get some experience sailing in lighter winds. It will build up your skills and your confidence, and you will be able to handle the higher winds.
 
Yes I'll try Torrid. I only get to sail once a fortnight due to young children & my husband also wanting to sail (we alternate weekends as we don't have a babysitter) so I don't always get a lot of choice in terms of the wind.
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Hence why I'm hoping to find another way to right the boat if hanging off the centreboard doesn't work, until I build up enough upper body strength.
Hi Sailorgirl,

Sorry to hear about your capsize recover challenges. Here's a technique to work on while you are waiting for your shoulder to heal before you try to work out a way to get on top of the daggerboard from below while in the water. As you are a pretty experienced sailor, I'm thinking you likely already do this whenever possible. But if not, here goes.

Let's say you are sailing along overpowered like before, you get hit by a big puff, you heel even more and for whatever reason, you realize during that slow motion moment that you aren't going to be able to bring the boat flat again and are about to capsize.

So, right at the moment when you know that you aren't going to be able to prevent a capsize (and even before then is better) drop everything, spin around so that you are facing the deck instead of sitting on the deck and grab the gunnel with both hands. You'll now be fully facing the deck that is now approaching a 90 degree angle to the water with your feet on the wall of the cockpit on the opposite side. Your goal here is to give up trying to prevent the capsize early and make sure you've got a good grip on the gunnel so you don't fall in the water.

The mast, sail and boom will now land in the water but because the sail is a large surface, it will take a while for the boat to fully turtle. Immediately push off the side of the cockpit with your feet, pull yourself up to the gunnel, throw one leg over the gunnel and now you will be straddling the gunnel. As the daggerboard will be forward of where you were sitting when the start of the capsize began, you will want to end up straddling the gunnel while facing the bow.

So, now you are staddling the gunnel and facing forward. This will allow you to quickly shuffle forward until the side of the daggerboard is below your leg that is on the hull side of the boat. You can then just step onto the daggerboard, bring your other leg over the gunnel and now you'll be standing on the daggerboard with your hands on the gunnel.

Move your weight out towards the end of the daggerboard and get as much weight outboard and see if your body weight will be enough to start lifting the mast, sail and boom out of the water. Finish your capsize recovery like you normally would. Again, the key is to drop your main sheet and tiller early, even before you capsize, spin your body and grab the gunnel. Being able to grab the gunnel early and have a good grip prevents you from falling in the water. Then it's just a matter of "climbing the wall" and getting up and onto the gunnel with one leg on either side.

One major advantage to this technique is how much faster you will be getting your weight on the daggerboard before the mast, sail and boom starts sinking than if you fell in the water and had to make your way all the way to the daggerboard by either swimming around the bow or stern or diving underwater amidships and surfacing right at the daggerboard on the other side.

Obviously, this doesn't address your problem of righting the boat if you fall in the water. But if you do fall in the water, what about this? What if you let the Laser go ahead and turtle fully and then see if getting up on to the gunnel and reaching the daggerboard would be easier with the boat fully turtled rather than on its side?

Anyway, this "spin and grab" technique is one I have used exclusively for many years and I can't remember the last time I fell in the water during a capsize. I also taught my sailing buddy Greg... who's not a very experienced sailor yet... this technique and now he (almost never) ends up in the water. He and I are 6 foot tall so we just throw a leg over the gunnel but I don't see why you shouldn't be able to use this technique too. In any case, getting to the daggerboard over the top of the boat rather than by the water route is just so much easier and quicker.

Cheers,

- Andy
 
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OneGoat

New Member
Your capsize recovery is the biggest issue here.
A Laser on its side is like a seesaw. Your weight on the CB has to overcome the weight of the rig, with the whole system pivoting at the gunwale.
In the water, your buoyancy (body and PFD) supports most of your weight. You have to get your body out of the water to put that weight on the board.
It's actually easier (but slower) if you go full turtle, because you can climb the hull. We don't get that luxury at my local lake because the water is only 5' deep.
As a few of us have noted, easiest is to stay out of the water and clamber over the gunwale to the board. But that doesn't help if you're already in the water.
I can't help thinking of some elaborate rope ladder system to help you climb up to the centreboard. But that's probably not a great idea.
How would you go climbing on at the bow (where you can sink the gunwale) and pulling your way along the high gunwale until you can step down on to the CB?
Or could this be done from the stern? Even using your rudder as a foothold?
You'll have a hard time getting the boat up unless you can get yourself up on to that board... ultimately, lots of upper body strength work....

Everything else is just time on the boat. J had the joy of trying to get my requisite hours on the boat over winter in Ballarat, where we often go weeks at a time without seeing 10°C. That's a problem if you know you're going to be swimming because you know you suck at Lasers. Moderate winds and at least 11°C were my trigger... got a few good sessions in, and I'm much better on the boat for it.

Stick at it!
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
people may not have heard of the double-handed boats I sailed - but they are a class called 125's - two crew, single trapeze & symmetrical spinnaker. I also sailed Cherubs for a couple of seasons (two crew, single trapeze, assymetric spinnaker).
Cool boats! I am more familiar with the British Cherub but they've obviously taken it to a more extreme direction.

I am getting a 4.7 rig so I'll give that a try, at least while I'm learning to sail a laser. Once I get it figured out hopefully I can switch back to the radial.
I think that would be a waste of money. It's not likely to "feel" very different (I don't have any experience with the 4.7, but I can't feel much difference between the Standard and Radial), or be easier to "figure out". It's only going to overpower you in slightly heavier wind. It isn't probably any easier to right, but may capsize faster to windward...


Something else that crossed my mind: 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.

_
 
Some brief thoughts:
I'm 76 kg and sail a Radial but used to be 72. You are probably OK on Radial.
!5 knots I'm comfortable, to 20 can sail but am slow. Keep learning.
Laser is not easy to sail.
Unlike 125 and Cherub there are no chines so, despite what all say, keep some centreboard down otherwise it just slides away
If you bottle to windward, I'd guess the sail was way out (so you felt safer), and twisted at the top. Twist at top pushes mast to windward.
Suggest less vang when reach and run and sail in a bit.
Suggest 2. Have knot in mainsheet so boom doesn't go to 90 degrees (I stupidly have two mainsheets, one for light and one for heavy with knots in different spots). Later you can work on 'by the lee'

Steve
 
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. :(
 

175590

New Member
Recently bought a laser after sailing double-handed dinghies for many years

Yesterday I sailed it for the second time. It was blowing about 15 knots consistently with gusts over & this had caused some waves to chop up.

I had a radial rig on & I weigh about 68kgs. I was so overpowered. I was hiking so far out that my bottom was hitting the waves, yet I still couldn't sheet block to block as I just could not keep it flat. I had outhaul, cunningham & vang cranked on hard.

When I was reaching the boom kept hitting the water because the boat was heeling over so much, even with me flat hiking & the sail controls cranked on - the luff of the sail was flapping (ie needed to be pulled on more) but I couldn't or I would have capsized. I know how to steer a boat on a reach (ie bear away in the gusts, sheet off if needed, hike hard, bear up again etc) but that wasn't working - it just made the boom hit the water even more which kept rounding me up.

Any tips? Do I need a 4.7 rig?

Also, I did end up capsizing but then I could not get the boat to come up. Nothing I tried worked. The mainsheet was free (not cleated or caught), the boom was in the water not in the air. I capsized to windward on a reach, not to leeward.

I ended up having to wait forever for the rescue boat to come & walk the mast up for me. :(

I know the waves weren't helping, but anything else I could try?

I'm a bit apprehensive about sailing it again now as I don't want to get stuck out there drifting away from the racecourse holding onto my capsized boat again.
One last thought- you may be getting water in the hull which would make the boat almost impossible to recover.
 
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