Tag Archives: Laser Sailboat

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #3

Hello Sailors,

The sailing was very good with plenty of sunshine and strong wind. There was a bit of debate if it was truly heavy wind, but it was at least border line. We had two on RC and I’m glad we did as I wouldn’t want to have just one on a windy day like today. As the temps get colder I’m thinking that two on RC should be the rule rather than the exception. Thank you John and Kaitlyn for coming out and getting 6 races in!
We had 11 boats come out and start but with the winds getting strong in the gusts many people reasonably let up on racing. The winds were from the west so we were the short way across the river. The wind had strong gusts at 15-20 with lulls that were in the 8-10 range, with plenty of shiftiness. I typically do better in the 15-20 range so the lulls were somewhat troublesome for me.
Starts
The start line was less crowded than in weeks past so I used my typical “drift” start. I’ll drift near-ish to the committee boat until 40-30 second to go, then pick up some speed before the start and go. There has to be enough wind that sailing around boats is no issue, and there is plenty of line room for acceleration. Vang halfway on so I can have some maneuverability before the start. Once I start I two-block the main, take off, and snug the vang.
Upwind
I tend to have good speed upwind when the wind is up, and in a couple of races I used this to my advantage. The wind was shifty and I’ve been struggling to determine which is the favored tack. Sometimes speed upwind is good enough, but not today as I often went the wrong way and got punished. I also had trouble powering back up for the lulls, another thing I need to work on. Sails in hard to stay flat in the gusts turn into underpowered when the lulls strike.
Downwind
I had an okay time downwind, I tried to steer for the current that came in later in the day. I also managed to stay upright downwind. My only wind came in a race where 2 boats in front of me capsized or nearly capsized. I did have a bit of trouble heading down at the windward mark. Easing the vang is key, as is getting the sail out and the boat pointed the right direction.
It was again good to be out sailing and to see everyone. I’m already looking forward to next week!

2020-2021 Laser Frostbit Series #3

Photo Credit to Kaitlyn Lucey

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #2

Thanks to Jim Klein for providing a seamless solo RC experience.

For series #1 and #2, we’ve had a healthy turnout (22 sailors for series #2).  I want to start off with one of the reasons why I enjoy sailing so much. The sport, and especially our club, is filled with a great group of people with varied experiences. Sailor’s ages range from teenagers to grandparents, and couples or parents and children are often found on the racecourse. This past weekend really captured that for me. I loved finishing each race on Sunday and watching various clusters of boats form to congratulate one another and discuss where things went right or wrong. I never feel like I’m sailing alone and rarely harbor the types of feelings you would traditionally associate with the word “competitors.” To me, at its best, sailing feels like a team sport. The real rivalry is proving which one design fleet is best :p
It has been great seeing more and more female helms join us for the Frostbite series. We’ve had pretty strong weekends with 7 female helms this past Sunday. Congratulations to Laura for securing first place both weekends. Thanks to everyone that has come out in the past even if you lost time or interest, or simply found frostbiting not to your liking. If anyone wanted to like frostbiting, but didn’t please reach out. We’d love to have you and help you have a good time.
On to the sailing.
Starts
Since I had not been in a boat for a while, I found myself more focused on enjoying the experience. I don’t think I checked the course or the line once the entire day. Instead, I tried to find any spot on the line. While I didn’t always have speed off of the line, I at least managed to be front row which is crucial for the first upwind leg.
Upwind
There seemed to be puffs rolling down the right side of the course, but I often found myself on the left (particularly for the first leg after the start). I think that is because I often rely on boat speed (tack as little as I can) and prefer coming in from the left to avoid the dreaded layline parade. For the mk 2 sail, I find the most important sail setting to be the mainsheet. I constantly adjust it searching for where I feel the most boat speed.
Downwind
It was an interesting day downwind. With puffs generally coming down the west side of the river, the fleet really spread out across the width of the Potomac. I believe my downwind legs really helped my positioning for the day. In the light breeze, it was important to drive deep over to the western side (inside lane) to catch the puffs. Overall, it was a longer sailing distance but boat speed more than made up for it. However, the lighter the wind got it was also just as important to look upwind to see where the next puffs would come from. There were several instances where I abandoned the western side and made my way back towards the center as I saw where future puffs would likely track.
Later on in the day, there were a few downwind legs where the breeze evened out a bit. Some of the leaders were still fighting each other for an inside lane and to reach the puffs on the western shore. I was able to pick off a few places by sailing dead downwind to the mark when the puffs hit, while others sailed that longer distance. For the mk 2 sail really focus on removing any cunningham from the sail (unless you need it to depower). That means uncleat and pull the entire purchase up the mast to remove any tension.
Two last pieces of advice. Don’t ignore Jim Graham on the right side of the course upwind and protest those that foul you. Otherwise, you too will earn the coveted third place writeup!

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #1

Third Place Write Up (Jim Klein)  11/22/2020

Hello Everyone,

Thank you Tom Hutton doing the RC for us on this first week of our frostbite series. Despite being alone in the RC boat you managed to give us Olympic, WL and Triangle races to keep things interesting, as well as maintaining a square start line.

My boat was set up the following way:

Vang: On fairly tight upwind, but not so tight that I had to worry about hitting my head on the boom during tacks. Offwind pretty far off, but always cleated down. You don’t want to have the vang completely loose or else the whole sail structure is loose, moves around too much, and generally sucks up energy of the boat rocking back and forth. Rather, you want that rocking energy to be translated to forward motion. Think rigidity in the whole boat/mast/sail structure.

Outhaul: About 4” off the boom at mid point.

Cunningham: Off and completely loose.

Mainsheet: Two blocked upwind during the windier times, else about 5” between the aft blocks.

Starts:  No one side was favored enough to attempt starting on that particular side.  I felt it was more important just to have good speed at the gun. I would often try to start on port and in the last 20 seconds or so, look for a hole in the fleet so I could tack and be on starboard tack at the gun. But this did not always work out so well; in one race, I could not find any hole and had to let the entire fleet cross the line before I squeezed in finally at the boat end.  Interestingly, that was the one race where I went out way to the right (on port tack) and somehow got some favorable wind so that I could pass just about the whole fleet by the windward mark. That was more luck than planning. The first 15 seconds after the gun are critical for you to get out in front as much as you can. This is no time to be playing with sail controls, but rather to be focused completely on getting ahead of those around you.

Upwind: In the first several races I had a helmet on (and covid mask), and it was preventing me from feeling the wind shifts. Then I took all those off and did better because I could feel the wind better with my head and face. I would tack pretty often when I detected a wind shift. I tried to be careful never to let the mast come beyond 90 degrees to the water. That meant moving around a lot on the boat.

Downwind: I tried to keep air flowing over my sail, even if that meant sailing in more of an “S” shape path rather than a straight line to the mark. That means, when the wind dies off, try to head up a bit from a run to a  broad reach, and focus on keeping the air attached to your sail and telltales flying back. Then if the wind would come back in strength, I would again go back to a dead run. In some cases, it was very advantageous to sail by the lee. I also tried as much as possible to get my weight all the way forward and to heel the boat so the sail sticks up in the air as much as possible.

2020-2021 Laser Frostbit Series #1

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #15

It was a lovely day on the water – warm and windy and a very good turnout! We did a couple of windward/leewards and then switched to Olympics, which was fun. One of the big challenges and opportunities of the day seemed to be mark roundings. At the windward mark, it was not coming in on port too close to the mark or hitting the mark or avoiding the boat hung up on the mark. I mostly escaped these traps unscathed (mostly) and tried to have at least my vang loosened a bit before the mark to help with turning down quickly. A few times, I did not turn down far enough and lost some boats inside by the time we made it down to the leeward mark (or had to work extra hard to catch back up) – and then started paying more attention. At the leeward mark, I tried to focus on going wide then tight, but it wasn’t always possible and once I thought I would have room, but didn’t at the last second…which was interesting. At the jibe mark, I sometimes was able to make up boats by doing a quick jibe and getting on a plane as quickly as possible and passing to windward.
Another observation is about controls – I made sure to have my cunningham and outhaul rather tight going upwind – tighter than I normally would considering it was generally windy and not crazy windy – and it did seem to help. I wasn’t as overpowered and was still able to point mostly OK and have decent boatspeed. Downwind, I let the cunningham and outhaul off almost all the way and didn’t play the vang too much once set because the wind tended to be relatively steady – mostly made sure the leech still had some movement. I also did a better job remembering to keep my weight as forward as possible upwind, which somehow seemed more doable with my depowered rig.
Hope everyone is having a good start to their week!
Laura

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #14

It was a beautiful is exasperating day on the water on Sunday.  Wind from literally every direction.  Long spans with little to no wind followed by brief interludes of decent breeze.  But, it was warmish and sunny and a nice day to be on the water.  Other than having replaced my toe rails and downhaul line (it had been the same color as my boom vang, which wasn’t so smart) the week before, I have no idea what I did differently this week that landed me in third place.  In any event, I tried to concentrate on the things that have consistently plagued me this season, which was particularly important given the tight line and relatively short upwind leg.  First, I focused on getting a decent start without trying to be first (the week before I was over early 3 or 4 times). Second, I concentrated on making fewer unforced errors, such as hitting marks, tacking before looking around carefully, and tacking with the vang so tight it’s nearly impossible to get underneath the boom smoothly.  On that last point, I did do a much better job loosening control lines at mark roundings and while tacking, netting a few boat lengths here and there.  Third, I imitated those who were always in front of me, figuring they were in front for a reason, other than the one race where we basically drifted aimlessly around the course.  Finally, I made a cheat sheet based on tips Keith Davids sent around last year, which I try to follow somewhat religiously, particularly using the vang more aggressively.  Copying his tips below for those who don’t have them.
Cheers,
Brian

– boom Vang tension upwind.  A number of folks are sailing with loose Vang tension upwind.  Even when it is relatively light air I suggest you keep at least a snug Vang.  In really light air I actually put on a good bit of Vang to induce bend in the mast to flatten the sail.  As the wind builds from around 4-6 knots I I will loosen it a bit but the Vang will never have slack in it.  As the winds builds beyond that I will continually add more Vang to flatten the sail.

– traveler block  A number of folks were sailing upwind with their traveler block too far inboard.  Often that is a sign that your traveler line is too loose.  If I see my traveler block is not all the way outboard I will ease my sail a few inches to encourage it to get further out before trimming it right back in.

– boom angle downwind.  Sailing by the Lee is really fast in a laser, but a lot of people sail with their boom too far out.  Remember that your leech falls off far beyond your boom angle, so if your boom is eased beyond 90 degrees, let’s say it’s hypothetically 110 degrees, your leach is probably somewhere around 125 degrees.  In light air having the boom beyond 90 is okay, but not way beyond (unless you are purposely trying to move across the wind for a tactical situation).  As the wind builds, you want to bring the main back in to 90 degrees and when it is windy, in a lot more than that.  Did you flip (or almost flip) recently when a gust came down the course from behind?  That could be a clue that you are sailing with the main too far out.  It is hard to tell when your main is at 90 degrees, but what I find helpful is a mark or piece of tape on my mainsheet that tells me when the boom is at 90.  I use that as a reference to adjust from.  The other critical adjustment downwind is Vang tension.  A good way to tell if you have your Vang tension right downwind is to watch the leach of your sail.  You want a lively leach, meaning it should bounce a bit when you hit waves or when you get puffs.  If it is too rigid you have to much vang.  If it is falling off to leeward and never bouncing back, you have it too loose.

– turning the boat around the weather mark.  Getting quickly away from the weather mark is a big help when you are next to other boats.  Many people lean in as they come to the mark to ease their Vang, outhaul, and Cunningham.  The trouble is that leaning in causes the boat to heal to leeward, which makes the boat want to head up not down.  To compensate, most people will use their rudder to steer the boat down, which creates huge amounts of drag (slow).  A better approach is to ease your control lines before getting to the mark (Vang is most important). As you get to the mark hike out and lean back, which will shift the center of lateral resistance and cause your boat to turn sharply downwind. Due this as you ease your sheet and you will escape quickly from the mark.

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #14

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #13

First, It was a beautiful day for a sail with light winds that didn’t quit and didn’t vary much.  The current/tide was a factor, both on the start line (I got caught over once) and at the windward mark.  I found going right and setting up well out worked for me, as the current would drift me to the layline by the time I reached the mark. I found going downwind (upcurrent) to be slow, requiring sitting very still with sail by the lee, but I feel the total weight of the boat and skipper was a factor   (Jim Klein was uncatchable)  Twice I picked a little debris off my rudder which could have slowed me a bit. This is my first time to do a third place write-up, due in part to the fact that the race committee (Farley and Tom) almost always take places above third.  Thanks for doing Race Committee!  Welcome back to Dan Miller who had yet sailed this season, but showed no rust as he led the first race until the last few boatlengths, being nosed out by Jim Klein.
Not much else to say except that today’s sailing is one of the most pleasant “frostbite” events I had in 20 years of frostbiting!!

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #12

The forecast and the actual weather didn’t line up at all which makes me leery. The weather called for light winds from the west switching to stronger from the south. When I got to the marina winds were light and shifty but coming from the north by the time we got on the water. The first two races were in the light and shifty stuff with a very strong down river current. RC wisely got the races off without worrying about a perfect course. For the first races I was focused on managing current rather than wind and this seemed to help some. I would head offset to the mark to counteract the current. In the very light wind, when it’s too light for tell-tails and wind vanes, I use a wet finger to determine where the wind is coming from. Then I setup the sail so it looks correct relative to where I think the wind is coming from. I steer to try to make sure I’m not pinching, as speed takes a while to build and there isn’t enough wind to show pinching in the sail. After the second race the wind died completely and it looked like wind would fill from the south. As the wind came in RC did a quick course reset and we got in 3 more races with a nice breeze. The current was still strong and was now pushing boats over the line. I was OCS in the last two races, and I managed to force Nich with me in the last race. Factoring in the current would have helped me here. In the medium breeze I’m keeping the boat very flat and looking for clear air on the favored tack. I focus on pointing and keeping my speed up. I did manage to factor in current for the windward mark layline and picked up a few boats the overstood. Overall it was a nice and sunny day, great to be out on the water. We also had Richie come out for the first time so welcome to him. Thanks again to John and Mike for doing RC!

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #12

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #10

Sunday was once again some great sailing on the Potomac. Wind from the west resulted in some shifty wind with strong gusts. The current was really running down the river which made the starts interesting. I tried to start near the boat since it was upcurrent and I felt like there was a larger margin of error if you were to mess up the start (you can always tack away). The line was sometimes favored towards the pin but I was usually able to get off the line pretty well when starting at the boat and was able to round top 5 even in the shifty conditions. The wind was building throughout the day but the most challenging aspect for me was the heavy airplane traffic causing a bunch of sudden shifts and downwash right at the windward mark. The current at the windward mark was also strong causing a lot of people including myself to misjudge the laylines. The race committee set a long triangle leg which turned into some screaming reaches in races 4 and 5. The fastest speed recorded for me was 8.8 knots. Tom and I were both tracking our boats using RaceQs. You can check out the replay here at this link.
raceQs

raceQs

 Its nice to walkthrough your races and rethink your tactical decisions. For instance I saw two situations where people were coerced to tack at the finishline by a starboard tacker not fetching the finish. When viewed from above and in hindsight it is easier to see that the right move is to take the starboard tackers stern and lead them towards the finish line on port while they still have to make an extra tack. I’d love see more people use this app in our fleet. Stop by before sailing if you are interested and I can walk you through how it works and might even have an extra phone available.

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #8

Third Place Write-Up, 2020 Frostbite #8 – 1/12/2020

Weather:

This Sunday we lucked out with wind. There was a storm Saturday that passed perfectly. We were catching the tail end so that there was good breeze that later Sunday dropped to very little wind. The weather reports indicated strong wind, but on the day it was less that predicted. Turnout was good with some new fast sailors making an appearance.

Starts:

I had some good starts and some not so good starts. The wind was a bit up and down as well as shifty. My bad starts I though I was in good position in the middle of the line, then a shift put me unable to fetch the pin end. Another time a swirl put me in irons pre-start, very not-good as boats going backward have no rights. Fortunately the boats around me all pass me without incident so, through no skill of my own, I didn’t foul anyone.

Swirl upwind:

Upwind there were some small and big shifts. Sometimes I got these right and passed boats, sometime I got this wrong and lost boats. I’m getting better at steering, telling when I’m getting headed vs when I’m just pinching. A lesson I need to learn better is when the wind is this shifty to try to stay in the middle of the course to not get buried by a big shift. The  oddest thing going up wind was when closer to the mark it seems there were swirls, possibly from jets or from puffs dropping to the water. A swirl would seem to have wind but it would not be from any specific direction. One race I thought I was tacking on a header but in reality was not. The tack didn’t help and I’d given up all my speed to the swirl. Other times boats ahead of me would get caught in them, dramatically slowing down, like I had. The swirls were very localized so getting hit by one seemed to be luck.

Downwind:

We had windward-leeward courses set so downwind was more or less strait down wind. I had more success staying on starboard rather than jibing. There were puffs that could sometimes be taken  advantage of as well as a cross current that meant going inside was beneficial. I aimed for puffs more than trying to fight for a tactical position. This worked out okay, and I managed to avoid a couple of big pinwheels. Big thank you to RC for coming out and setting a course in the messy wind.

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #8