Saturday, July 21, 2012
The last 2 weekends I have not raced my Laser but have taken out a Kestrel, a two-handed dinghy - both because I have meaning to learn how to helm a 2 handed dinghy and also because of the very high heat/humidity that totally exhausted me on the Laser the weekend before.
When I sailed the Laser, I was far from very good, but at least I had gotten to the point where I was less worried about the basics and could concentrate on trying to improve. Getting used to a new boat with two sails plus spinnaker, lots of fiddly controls and another person aboard definitely took me out of my (relative) comfort zone.
For both weekends I prevailed on a more experienced Kestrel helm to crew for me and let me helm, with him available to give me tips. It was much appreciated and by the end of the second weekend my comfort level, while still in the less than really comfortable zone, was much better.
Concerning the heat issue, I am now convinced that I had trouble mainly due to the high humidity which is usually a factor mainly in August but which was quite high recently. The proof is that in my first weekend out on the Kestrel, the humidity was still quite high and that, coupled with my stress in trying to manage the new boat, forced me to retire before finishing the first race. Yesterday the humidity was not high (I can always tell it is high when I step out of an air-conditioned building and my glasses immediately fog up completely) and I finished 2 races in the Kestrel without being overly tired at the end.
Back to learning the Kestrel, I enjoy it a lot. First, it is really nice not worry about the main sheet lassoing the transom during gybes. On the other hand, I did capsize once during a gybe because I forgot to straighten the tiller and we just kept coming around into a perfectly executed dry capsize for my experienced crew who saw exactly what was happening and managed to be over the side and onto the centerboard before the mast touched the water- I was in the water of course. But that lesson was quickly learned and I doubt I will soon make that mistake which is so basic and easy to avoid.
Learning how to trim the headsail and mainsail and coordinating tacks and gybes is fun and quite different from a Laser.
And thinking about how best to work as a team with the crew takes concentration. As is true for most relationships, good communication is the key.
So I enjoy it, but this afternoon I took the Laser out for a spin just to keep in touch. I really enjoy the little boat - somehow you feel closer to the wind and water.