Category Archives: Lasers

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 15

Steen Byskov and Laura Windecker ran five races!   Olympic courses that took about 30 minutes.

The winds direction was fairly stable from the SW and the strength in the 10 to 20 range.

From the marina, the water appeared to be very very low because  for the previous 24 hours gale force winds were blowing from the northwest AND it was low tide around noon.  Georgetown was hosting a regatta and decided to stay in the cove and run it there. However, once the sailors left the marina it did not appear to be an issue.

Air temps were between 30 and 40 and the water temp had risen to near 50.

Eight sailors went out and had a challenging time.

Yeah, fair bit of capsizing. The attrition we had during the day was typically after capsizes.  Jim (Graham) had two before he quit.  It was already hard work sailing in those conditions, and capsizes really wear you out – we didn’t count how many there were. Tom went to Jim during his second capsize – good to see sailors looking out for each other.
We also had a couple of equipment failures – Tom’s tiller extension broke, and Brian’s mainsheet broke.
— Steen

Steen took pictures! See them here.


(Races 51-55, March 13)

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 14

The SW breeze was sporty and gusty — very high risk of capsize — the water temperature chilly (47F) but the air was warm (70F).   The current was strong going out.   Most sailors broke out their radial rigs.

More pictures

LaserFrostbite2122_14  (races 47-50)

Nabeel Alsalam and Lloyd Leonard ran the races.

Some tips on how to avoid capsizing downwind:

When approach the windward mark, first release the cunningham to  close the top of the sail and then release the vang most but not all the way so that the leech is closed a bit.   Then raise your arm with the mainsheet high and above you to make sure it is at least not completely knotted at your feet.

At the windward mark, gain speed first and then smoothly bear off and then raise the daggerboard 8″ or so.   Don’t let the sail out past 90 degrees.   It is a good idea to have a knot in the mainsheet to prevent the sail going out too far.   Letting the sail out beyond 90 degrees whether on purpose or not is a sure way to capsize when it is breezy.

NEVER sail dead downwind.  Preferably sail by the lee and if that doesn’t work, reach.  You want pressure against the daggerboard for stability.

Gybing seems scary but it doesn’t have to be.  Trim in the sail some so it will gybe sooner, bear off to get the sail to gybe and as it is going over bear back off.   Also, keep the tiller extension low during the gybe so it doesn’t hook the mainsheet during the gybe.

Have fun surfing the waves!  Steer toward the low spots.

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 12

Nabeel Alsalam and Morgan Rathjen were your RC. They ran 5 races over a pretty long windward-leeward course. The winds were from the south and with the long fetch waves developed that were surf-able. The current was going out strongly and at time was stronger than the wind causing the RC boat to move up course and then down on its anchor.

14 sailors came out although there was attrition over the day.  Oh and there were double-capsizes, you know when you capsize to windward, bring the boat up, and immediately capsize to leeward.  Tiring! People are likely to be sore today.

Lars was 3rd.  Maybe he (or anyone else) would like to add some comments about sailing the waves or anything else that made the day interesting.


In case you are interested, below are my notes for the risk assessment:


(Compiled at 9:00 am)



* WHAT…South winds 10 to 15 kt with gusts up to 20 kt expected.

* WHERE…Chesapeake Bay from Pooles Island MD to North Beach  MD, Chester River to Queenstown MD, Eastern Bay, and Choptank  River to Cambridge MD and the Little Choptank River.   NOT OUR AREA

* WHEN…From 3 PM this afternoon to 6 AM EST Monday.


SSE 10/15 at noon rising to SSE 10/16 at 3pm


Fell overnight from 43F to 41F.  


35F at noon rising to 40F at 3pm


High tide at 10:30 am


2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 11

David Metcalf and Carlo Sdralevich ran the races.  It was their first time doing it.  Thank you!

The wind was generally over 10 mph and relatively steady. The last race the wind picked up briefly to over 15 – no whitecaps but close. The racers were beating block-to-block for the most part, and they enjoyed the relatively steady wind. Some looked worn out by the 5th race, I know I would have been.

The low tide was lower than usual and setting a course in line with the wind in the deep parts of the river was challenging. For most of the races the pin end of the starting line was favored, the best starts were made from the middle of the line, away from traffic. Tom Hutton got in a groove and finished 1-1-1 in the last three races.

— Dave Metcalf

Results (Race 31-35)

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 6

Gray day with a soft rain and a southwest wind in the 10-15 mph  range.    Air and water temperature both around 41.

John Van Voorhis and Jim Graham ran the races.

Day’s Results

LaserFrostbite2122_6  (races 26-28, January 9)

Thoughts from Farley —

Sunday was an interesting day on the river.  The front mostly came in as expected and the wind built throughout the 3 races.  It was a little different though because while the wind built, it continued to be mostly a southerly.  The wind did generate some waves that were definitely surfable and it was still kind of puffy.  Each race the wind built and started around 10 and was definitely gusting above 20 by the last race.  Oh and it was raining the whole time.  A huge thanks to Jim and John for doing race committee on a nasty day and putting a triangle mark to give us olympic courses!

For myself, I was struggling a bit with my first day out on the laser with high wind in basically 2 years (last year was decidedly not windy for the days I sailed).  The first race I started near the pin and that did not work too well for me since the course was starboard tack and boat favored (I was running late and did not check anything).  I did have some fun downwind tactics in the first race with Ethan where I was able to use the waves and wind to pass him on the inside right before rounding the leeward mark.  The second race the wind had picked up a little more and I was starting to get overpowered.  I snugged up my vang, outhaul, and cunningham to depower and stopped sheeting in quite as much.  I got a little lucky and passed some people that capsized in that race.  Some people went in for the last race.  In the last race, it was getting windy.  This was my “bad” race.  I got stuck in irons 2 times during tacks and capsized 3 times during the race and was generally exhausted by the end (and glad it was the last race).  For the stuck in irons, I did not think my vang was on too hard but I let it off and got the boat moving again before resetting.

All in all it was still a fun day but definitely harder than I was ready for!

So far this season, 30 boats have sailed and 15 have sailed half or more.  Farley is learding the qualifiers, but Steen is way out front among the non-qualifiers and is likely to reach the quali fying threshold.

Cumulative Results Through #6


2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 5

Jim Klein and Kevin Cowley ran RC. They and the sailors had a long discussion about whether it was safe to go out. In the end they and 11 sailors did go out.

The winds where in the high teens (white caps were not constant) and gusts were up in the 20s. The air and water temperatures were similar — mid 40s. Colds hands were an issue for several sailors — we need to compare our methods of keeping hands warm. Capsizing and hard hiking was tiring.

Conditions at Reagan National Airport:



Thoughts from Mike Renda

Well, the wife took the kids and went to NY this morning, and the weather forecast was for 45F and gusts in the low 20s. Seemed like a good day to get out and go sailing. Anyways, some thoughts.

On the water, my mantra is this on days like this: 90% fast, 100% of the time. In general, this focuses on minimizing mistakes, avoiding problematic situations and risk, thinking ahead, and keeping good boat speed.

Racecourse: My general observation is that I think there were better puffs out left. Current didn’t really seem to be a factor, or at least I didn’t really think about it. There were small gains on shifts to be had, but tacking on them required a bit of calculation to determine if the shift was big enough to warrant the extra tack (tacking too much on a breezy day can be slow, and the course wasn’t really long). I believe most of my first beats were: start at boat, go left until near port layline, tack on port, tack back on starboard when on layline with about 2-4 boatlengths to the mark.

Pre-start: I believe the boat was increasingly favored throughout the day (though never that much). My general approach on days like this is to err on being near the boat, with a focus on getting off without a hitch (low risk). Vang should be loose in case you need to duck / maneuver, though drastic moves should be avoided — no gybing. Also, I try to keep my head out of the boat a bit and avoid starting near crowds of boats (again, trying to avoid big problems). Outhaul & cunningham should be set for upwind mode (in lighter breeze I’ll start with them looser). Finally, on these breezy days, when the fleet sits and waits for the last 30 seconds, nobody ends up quite on the line, as everyone drifts downwind and gets going too late. Trim up a touch early and take advantage.

Upwind: In general, vang was at least two-blocked, outhaul near the end of the boom, and cunningham pretty much as tight as you can get it. Once going, I try to keep the main two-blocked as much as possible, easing in the puffs when needed. Body position, I’m focusing on getting my weight outboard and forward to keep the bow down. The laser does really poorly when healed up, and you should really do whatever you can to avoid the big heels in the puffs. I also focus on trying to keep the bow knuckle touching the water. Every time the bow gets picked up by a wave, you’re getting tossed off the wind, losing forward progress. I also think it’s important to find a body position that you can hold for most of the leg rather than be consistently resetting. Once you’re set, your head can focus on the sail, boats around you, and the puffs. When the sail gets really flat on days like this, the groove gets really narrow, so I find that getting set bodywise can help eliminate a variable and allows me to more easily find the groove via the rudder and mainsheet.

Windward mark: It’s really important to be able to ease and turn the boat downwind at the windward mark. Get your vang off early (do what you can to make this happen). Having the vang line tied to the centerboard is a really good idea, as you can more easily reach it when hiked (and the end never ends up to leeward). As I approach the windward mark, I reach down at the mainsheet block and make sure I can let the mainsheet slide through my hand as I raise it up above my head. This ensures I can ease the mainsheet a good 6 feet as I turn downwind without hitting any knots. Once turned downwind, I always tighten the hiking strap — this is extremely important. Once tight, wrap your aft leg around it (when on starboard, this is your left leg). This will help you physically control the boat through the waves with your bodyweight, as you are effectively tying yourself to the boat.

Downwind runs: With your aft leg wrapped around the hiking strap, your front leg / knee can be used to help get the boat up on waves. Lean forward, put your knee on the diagonal part next to the centerboard slot, and lean back once your boat hops up on the wave. I thought the runs were particularly well aligned to the waves for small periods of surfing. I did a bit of the “wave carving” business, but I’m not very good at it, and again, safety / stability is a paramount concern. It’s important to be looking backwards every 15 seconds or so to look for puffs.

Leeward mark: Get your boat setup for the upwind leg. Board down, cunningham tight, vang tight, outhaul tight, hiking strap back to loose. Turn the boat upwind (even if you don’t have the main trimmed) right at the mark so that you’re in as high of a lane as possible (“wide, then tight”).

Final leg strategy: If you round right behind someone, tack off and make them cover. Stress them out and make them make mistakes in the breeze. If they’re responding to your move, they’ll never tack as well as they can. This applies on light air days as well.

Between races, I’m always thinking about how I get the blood flowing again. Hiking contorts your body up and limits blood flow to the legs. I think it’s important to stand up between races and get the blood moving around. Pro tip: Leave a thermos of hot chicken noodle soup on the committee boat for between races. Be sure to provide RC with beer afterwards.

Nice racing Steen, and thanks to Jim & Kevin for RCing. Good seeing everyone, and happy holidays to all.