Laser Cressy Practice
DOWNWIND — Know your 90
- Lots of guys sail “by the lee” and all over the place, often with the mainsheet out well past 90 degrees. This can be fast in very light conditions, but becomes trickier and less advantageous in more wind and more waves.
- Mark your mainsheet on land when the boom is exactly at 90 degrees. Know how this looks when sailing, and practice with this amount of mainsheet ease when there is more wind. 90 degrees encourages you to sail less distance downwind, and can be far more stable (both good things when there’s decent breeze).
Marking the mainsheet.
With a rig capable of rotating freely, a common challenge in the Laser is setting the mainsheet correctly downwind.
Having the boom out past 90 degrees can be effective to help set the sail in very light winds or momentarily strategically or tactically when working hard by lee either in other conditions.
However, for most other times, it pays to sail with the boom further back than this, improving VMG by…
– Optmising the balance between force forward and tipping force to windward (boat should feel “light and loose” without capsizing to windward).
– Propelling the boat forward with any rolling, while also dampening the roll and reducing risk of overrolling and drag.
– Allowing us to sail a straighter course with less distance.
So, next time you go sailing, get out a permanent marker, set the boom to 90 degrees on shore, and mark the sheet at the boom block. This may become a valuable reference point in a search for a better feeling and speed downwind.