Upwind in strong gusty winds

Thread starter #1
Yesterday in Sydney I was racing in strong VERY gusty northwest winds at 15knots with gusts reaching mid 20s.
It was one of the worst races I've ever done :D couldn't keep the damn boat flat, capsized several times during a gust plus water was very choppy.

Going upwind I pulled the vang as tight as possible, pulled the cunningham pretty tight too and the outhaul between hand and half hand length.
It was pretty much impossible to keep the sheet block to block or near otherwise during a gust the boat would heel so much and capsize despite me and my 85KGs hiking out hard on a full rig.
Got a couple of capsized to windward too when the gust stopped and didn't rush back into the boat in time.

I had to let go the sheet quite a bit and it would often hit the water (amazingly the clew tie down strap came off, had to stop to fix it...).
Was so busy hiking out and easing/pulling the sheet so I didn't have enough time/concentration to look at the waves and go over them properly :(

So how do you guys manage in gusty conditions ? When a gust hits and the boat heels should I mainly steer into the wind and/or ease sheet or pray for god ?
Any tips welcomed...
 

Merrily

Administrator
#4
Yesterday in Sydney I was racing in strong VERY gusty northwest winds at 15knots with gusts reaching mid 20s.
It was one of the worst races I've ever done :D couldn't keep the damn boat flat, capsized several times during a gust plus water was very choppy.

Going upwind I pulled the vang as tight as possible, pulled the cunningham pretty tight too and the outhaul between hand and half hand length.
It was pretty much impossible to keep the sheet block to block or near otherwise during a gust the boat would heel so much and capsize despite me and my 85KGs hiking out hard on a full rig.
Got a couple of capsized to windward too when the gust stopped and didn't rush back into the boat in time.

I had to let go the sheet quite a bit and it would often hit the water (amazingly the clew tie down strap came off, had to stop to fix it...).
Was so busy hiking out and easing/pulling the sheet so I didn't have enough time/concentration to look at the waves and go over them properly :(

So how do you guys manage in gusty conditions ? When a gust hits and the boat heels should I mainly steer into the wind and/or ease sheet or pray for god ?
Any tips welcomed...
Well, if there's waves, you don't want to pinch much because that will stop you. If you are overpowered, you should have the cunningham on all the way. I'd only have one hand width on the outhaul in overpowered conditions. You need some bag in the foot to help you get over the waves. If you can, play the controls, putting them on before the gust arrives. If doesn't work for you at first, leave them on. You'll still have to ease, hike, and trim, and the bruises just seem to appear like magic!
 
Thread starter #6
yes it does I know.... just that here in Sydney the wind is very different from the 4 directions and this one was a rare one but good for learning.

how should I approach waves ? I must say it was the first time really I faces big waves as I usually sail in flatter water bays.
 

Nicko

New Member
#7
I was out in similar conditions last week. the first lap of the race on the upwind leg it was a nightmare having to ease so much the boom was in and slowing me down,couldn't keep it flat at all.
The next lap, I cranked on the cunni, tightened the outhaul a few inches,it was like sailing another boat.It meant I could concentrate more on going straight and keeping on the edge of the wind. It was pretty flat which meant pinching was possible,(but only if you have control of the boat!!)so a lot less effort.I still had to hike hard and ease some, but nothing like the first lap.
It is amazing how sensitive lasers are to their controls.
 
#8
>> Going upwind I pulled the vang as tight as possible

that's the key. you were overpowered with closed leach. if vang was free and you eased the sail the top third of the sail would open and bleed off gusts
 
#9
First, at 85kg ,you should be able to keep the boat flat except for the big gusts.

Thoughts...

1) Keep the boat flat. It will help "track" through the waves and you'll feel like you're being "pulled" to weather. This isn't superflat, but aim for that, and you'll feel it.

2) Keep an eye to weather, pinch in the smaller gusts. This is not a big pinch, but requires some practice to find. And hike harder.

3) Dump sheet in the big gusts. 3-5 ft between the traveler blocks. You need to have vang on hard. Make sure your vang will provide enough tension without deadending the blocks. Make sure you have enough purchase in the vang to approach deadending it - you don't want to have the excuse that you weren't strong enough to pull on enough vang. Watch the boom - it should go out, not up when you have the vang pulled on hard. And hike harder.

4) C'ham to the gooseneck. Outhaul depends on your sail. If it's old, you can strap the foot if you have some bag above it. Otherwise, about 4-6 inches of draft (above the folds and wrinkles at the foot) will still provide enough power.

5) Make sure your hiking strap is set properly. You should feel pressure on your calves and on the hiking pant battens. If your strap is too tight, you will be fighting to straighten your legs and wear out your quads too quickly. Too loose, and you'll slide around and not feel "locked" to the boat and not hike aggressively. Go out in 10-14kts and fiddle with your hiking strap adjustment until you find the proper setting.
 
#11
Work with the main, if you do that correctly you'll be able to keep the boat going no matter how bad the rest of your stuff is trimmed =P (of course people with welltrimmed boats will go faster but the point is that it all comes down to working with the main).
 
R

Ross B

Guest
#13
>> Going upwind I pulled the vang as tight as possible

that's the key. you were overpowered with closed leach. if vang was free and you eased the sail the top third of the sail would open and bleed off gusts
yeaaaa nooo


If your overpowered, you need to crank the vang on, and vang sheet. By doing this, you let the sail out, but not up. I know some can describe it better than me. But its the way to go if you are overpowered. It's faster to ease off, and point down a bit, and power up and have speed, than to be 2blocked and heeling over and sliding.
 
#14
yeaaaa nooo


If your overpowered, you need to crank the vang on, and vang sheet. By doing this, you let the sail out, but not up. I know some can describe it better than me. But its the way to go if you are overpowered. It's faster to ease off, and point down a bit, and power up and have speed, than to be 2blocked and heeling over and sliding.
hmm, my experience tends to match this description (second paragraph):
http://www.roostersailing.com/merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=xtrem&Store_Code=1
 
R

Ross B

Guest
#15
well if its gusting every couple of seconds, you can go with that I guess

try vang sheeting, dunno, it doesn't usually get crazy gusty here in SoCal
 
#18
I pretty much always sail in really gusty conditions and I find that you need a decent bit of vang. I might use more vang in slightly lighter airs, not sure, but I still use a decent bit of vang in heavy and gusty conditions (I figure the boom might go out in about a 45 degree angle).
 
#19
goes without saying (which is why it took so long for me to realize it !!). First thing is have your traveler really really tight, so that when you are two blocked you have as much mast bend as you possible can get - flattening the sail as much as possible.

Then next thing that seems to work for me is adding lots of cunningham. The only limit here is that as the waves build it gets harder to keep enough power in the sail to keep going over the waves. - I have not yet pulled it on enough so it is below the boom, but I have had the bottom of the grommet right down on the boom.

I also put on a lot of vang - this is sailing in 15ks steady gusting 25kts. As it gets up to 35kts and more I can see that you change to much more survival sailing & the rules might change. I have not had a laser out in those conditions.


I consistently keep too much sheet in and not enough cuningham on during the races and struggle to go upwind heeled over. Then after the races are over I pull on more cunningham and ease the sheet, hike & take off with the boat flat, then magically I can sheet in a little - then start healing, ease out , hike like a maniac and take off again ...
why can't I convince myself to do it during a race ????
 

Merrily

Administrator
#20
I consistently keep too much sheet in and not enough cuningham on during the races and struggle to go upwind heeled over. Then after the races are over I pull on more cunningham and ease the sheet, hike & take off with the boat flat, then magically I can sheet in a little - then start healing, ease out , hike like a maniac and take off again ...
why can't I convince myself to do it during a race ????
You have a lot to think about during a race, but I'll bet that now that you've said it, you'll be putting on more cunningham during races. I have trouble getting enough C on during a race, too. Pretty much, you have to stop everything else, brace your feet on the front of the cockpit, and PULL, then PULL some more. Meanwhile, your competitors have picked the shift that you just missed by fiddling with the boat and are pulling away. Then how do you keep all the extra line from getting tangled?
 
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