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Upwind in heavy air



Does anyone have any ideas for going upwind in about 18-20 knots with a radial for a person who weighs 130-135? I have tried filling the sail, hiking hard, and I still am dragging the leward rail 3-4 inches under, and it feels like I'm not going anywhere because of the extreme angle of heel and pounding through the chop. When I carry a bubble to flatten the boat, once again I feel extremely slow... What angle of heel is the best compromise between filling the sail and flattening the boat, and how much of a bubble should I carry to achieve that?


New Member
Upwind in the heavy I sheet in and am hiked hard aprox by the main block. But at the same time I'm playing body position to maximize my weight, 180, and its effects on the boat; I also am under a full rig. You have to play around and see what works best.....go out and play.

When I see that I'm dragging my lee rail I double block it and jack in my vang and cunny. then I try to point as high as possible without ironing it out drive your shoulder towards the stern and stiffin up those legs mostly you futher most stern leg. Sure you could go faster bearing off and reaching but you'll loose distance to the mark....whats the shortest distance between two points.? a straight line. And the best way to do this is point as high as you can...but efficiently.

The better sailers do these things instinctivly thus allowing them to look for the shifts and pick the advantaged waves, tactics. Most of us spend our time working trim and watching everyone else during the race when we should be perfecting these "arts" with a two boat practice or on our own, prefferably with a better sailer.

If you don't have a partner to do some two boat testing on then buy a good laser book and read it front to cover then go out and get the basics nailed down, and I mean really nail them down, so you can do them in your sleep.

Good Luck. :)

p.s The Complete Book of Laser Sailing by Richard Tillman
check it out.


New Member
i have the same problem pretty much-- do you have the new rigging? if so, you can get a [b:23f893d20b]lot[/b:23f893d20b] more cunningham tension on then you think. you might have to adjust it on shore (retie the main line to the cascade block so the main line is shorter) but that should help...
ive found its partly mental more than physical too.... just have to get confidence in it. thats hard to do when you cant keep the boat under control though. :wink:


Thanx for the advice, luckily I have 2 lasers (1 1998 almost new laser with the new rigging) and one ~1970s laser. I'm going to get a friend out and fool around. Thanks again


New Member
Try This

I have a friend who showed me how he goes upwind in heavy air. As the boat begins to heel pinch just a little and let out your sail and HIKE HARD. Slowly start to trim your sail back in. You should never let it out more than a foot in the first place (just enough to faltten). Then start to head back down. You should not bear off or up more than 5 degrees. If it heels again (it will) just pinch a little, let a little out, flatten, trim, and head back down. Just work like this upwind. The key is not to over pinch or let out the main to much. Just enough to flatten. I weigh 95 pounds and have been out in 10- 15 knots and it works for me.


New Member
Like making an S in the water.......always keep pointing up. Thats what the best helmsman do. I am using VS to watch the LVC and its interesting to watch the stagger of these guys upwind in these monsters....just like an S.

That way your controlling / utilizing the wind / puffs instead of dumping it. Many inexpierianced drivers dump because they panic when overwhelmed not realizing that there is an easy way to efficiently point faster.


Use your vang / cunningham

The best way to sail the boat going upwind is tighting the vang a lot. It will flatten the sail and you will be able to control the boat. The same for the cunnigham. if it is really blowing tight as much as you can. sometimes is good to pass the line by just one side of the boom, so you can tide the eye almost below the gooseneck.
for the vang, you must be able to release the sail without it moving verticaly. You tight the mainsheet block to block, put it in the cleat and then press with your feet beetween th hatchet and the boom, and then you tight the vang as hard as you can. the sail will be flat and the boat should feel very controlable.

Give it a try. Remember that you need to release the vang before rounding the top mark, if you round it with the vang tight, you can capsize if the boom touchthe water.

Alexandre Tupinamba

1619191 - Houston



You asked:
> Does anyone have any ideas for going upwind in about
> 18-20 knots with a radial for a person who weighs 130-135?

What does Seldon sail? A Laser RADIAL! RADIAL!

Ignore all these answers, Seldon! They are either by full-rig sailors, or talk about stuff that works on big keelboats but never on a Laser!

Full rig sailors know nothing about Radial sailing! The beast is different, sail and lower mast.

Do not EVER double-block on a Radial! You'll go nowhere!

Do not EVER apply huge amounts of vang as on a standard rig! It's expensive! You WILL bend the lower mast!

For some basics, see what Ryan Minth (ILCA NA President) says about it on the "drLaser" web site! ("Boat Handling" section.)

For advanced details, you best bet is to ask Steve, the Champ.

You can contact him at:

Shevy Gunter


New Member
I'm under 120 lbs & sail both the standard & radial rig. Often, those more than 20 lbs heavier than me sail faster upwind in winds between 10-14 kts as I tend to be way overpowered. However, when the winds begin to blow over 15 kts, I start to overtake many as everyone becomes overpowered now.

What happens is that too many simply sheet block to block & point way too high. This makes their boats go too slow & they regularly get into irons or get blown over in a gust.

For me, I'd take in as much cunningham as I can & take in enough vang so that when I ease my boom doesn't rise. From there, I hike hard & sail at an angle that gives me decent speed to steer a more forgiving groove & clear the waves while playing my mains.
When winds blow even harder & I have to ease my mains beyond an arms length, I release my vang a little so that my boom doesn't hit the water.

Shevy is definitely right about the radial mast, I've broken a few & have learnt my lesson the hard way.


New Member
yeah, i way 150 pounds, and sail standard, and sometimes, when it blows on Long Island Sound (If it EVER does), its fun to keep flat. When i first started sailing lasers, i only weighed 130 pounds, and i was trying to keep a standard flat one day in 20 knot gusts! So, i learned two main things

Easy, Hike, Trim, and pinch a bit

Those allow you to keep the boat under control

oh, and if your REALLY out of control, raise your centerboard, although this is a LAST RESORT!


New Member
Upwind in the heavy is a true art. There are various ajustments it kinetic movement that must be considered as well as a strong understanding and practical application of the basics. Being able to control hull approach and subsiquent downside power landing etc. are huge and make the difference.

For and excellent practical introduction check out the link below.


If your not a class member you better join, if you don't this is the type of fantastic info that you'll be missing out on. I'll bet you that the kid that beats you by 10lengths is a member and reading up. 8)