Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In Tune

Last weekend, the wind was a bit stiffer than normal - around 15 knots, gusting to near 20.

I had one decent and one lousy race. Good starts (positive point) but horrible gybes, a couple ending in a near capsize.

Coming back in I thought about it and realised that I was sheeting in far too much in preparing the gybe - overreacting to concern (fear) about the higher wind, thinking wrongly that it would be helpful.  Of course, it was just the opposite because as soon as I gybed the boom was too far in (and I wasn't letting it out) and the wind just pushed everything on around, rounding up quickly into a near capsize.

So, with the wind today about the same, I went out to practice gybes and especially sheeting to less than than 45°. One of our better sailors joined me and we practiced going around 2 buoys about 50 meters apart.

I was not sheeting in too much but still managed to do a couple of bad gybes, including one capsize. Frustrating. Which was mistake number one today - letting the frustration get to me.  As my friend drily noted as he watched me on my second capsize - "You're spending more energy cursing than you would in just righting the boat".  He was absolutely right.  So, instead of wallowing in self-reinforcing negative thoughts, I managed to get on with things -  the first bit of progress today.

Going around the buoys we were gybing from close hauled and so I then concentrated on wide approaches turning/bearing off smoothly, sheeting out to a very broad reach and then, with the boat balanced, gybing. It worked OK but my friend told me to sheet in a bit as the gybe is about halfway through, with the last part the jerk to clear the main sheet.  I did so and concentrated on smooth turns and it all seemed to click.  For the first time ever, I did several gybes that seemed to be part of a smooth, natural turn - not a shambles of reactions, fits and starts, praying it would not go wrong.  I still have a lot of work to do to improve them but I came ashore feeling I had done 2 things right - recognised and gotten over a mental attitude and gybed in tune with the boat.


  1. You should get Steve Cockerill's "boat whisperer" -Downwind and check out the gybing in high wind.

  2. Or try "how to sail the Laser" October 19, 2009. For some reason that old post is still getting a lot of hits.

    1. Thanks - good advice there. And I think it gets a lot of hits because high wind gybes are something that produce a lot of swimming. I think the AUTHORITY part is exactly right - it may be counterintuitive to go fast and with authority, but it works.

  3. Doug makes me practice gybes alot. He says it is a get out of jail free card because few people are confident that they can do it well and/ or not lose a place when they do it. I practice low wind gybes but he practice high speed gybes and he forces himself to do it in all conditions and not wait for a lull. It cool to watch but I'd never try it.


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