Saturday, December 1, 2012


Several of us drove to Dubai yesterday to compete in our annual Team racing regatta with the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (which they usually win by embarassing margins).  But it was finally cancelled because of very squally conditions (lightning, thunder, gusts to 35 knots) which is quite rare for the Emirates.  So we drove back to Abu Dhabi and by then the weather had settled into blustery conditions and I took out a Laser to practice, doing a number of gybes - and only lassoing the boom once.  I did however perform a new trick - somehow the knotted end of the mainsheet reached up to the boom and caught near the outhaul.

I was lucky in having one of our best sailors also out practicing and he gave me some great tips.

In practicing beating in the blustery conditions it was easy to be overpowered in the gusts and I was dealing with it by putting on lots of outhaul and cunningham, hiking hard and easing the main sheet so it was often not even close to block to block.  He  suggested I first let off just a bit of outhaul and pull even tighter on the cunningham in order to get the power lower on the sail where it would have less leverage than higher up.  I did this and it worked.  He said in a keelboat one would also tighten the backstay.

Then he said I should concentrate on keeping the mainsheet block to block and deal with the gusts by heading up just a bit and only let off the mainsheet if absolutely necessary.  I did this and for a short while I was even outpointing him - that felt good, even if it didn't last.

I had also discovered a week before that pushing the tiller away can be effective to avoid a capsize as the boat rounds up quickly.  The natural inclination when one feels the boat rounding into a sure capsize is to pull the tiller in a vain attempt to bear off, but all this does is push the transom up and accelerate the turn - resulting in a dunking. On reflection I think this was a point made in one of the Boat Whisperer videos, but I didn't understand it at the time.  At any rate, when I started rounding up too quickly I found that if I just give a quick little push away of the tiller it flattens the boat quickly and I usually manage to recover.


  1. What about using the vang (kicker) to depower?

    1. When I am beating, I have the vang on pretty tight already - I have read about super-vang but never tried it.

  2. Supervanging helps a lot in really strong winds.


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