Thursday, April 25, 2013 from winter Pro D continue

Roll Tacks


The national team coach would not let us put our back foot over the hiking strap before the tack.  You were to jump across the boat and catch the hiking strap with both feet/toes.  It is difficult to break this habit but once you do, you realize that your legs and feet are more powerful working as a unit.

Roll Tacks

I have put together videos about light air roll tacks, and I stand by what I have said in those videos for light winds when the boat needs to be powered through the middle of the tack with a shoulder throw.  However in increasing (light) wind, 5+ knots let’s say, there is a simplified tack that can be quite effective.  This tack is initiated with a very slight leeward heel just to match the rate of turn and a gentle push of the tiller to the inner edge of the cockpit (the slight heel to leeward is worth pointing out because it is assumed that you are now typically sailing so flat that you otherwise have more or less neutral helm).  Continue to head up gently and sheet in until you start to lose speed.  As you lose speed, punch the tiller quickly to complete the turn.  As you do this the sail starts to fill from the opposite side.  In 5+ knots this will be a bit of a shock and the boat will quickly start tipping over top of you.  This is your cue to spring to the other side of the boat, catching the hiking strap with your toes and aggressively flattening the boat all the way down to dead flat where you keep it.  The exit of the tack is the same as I described in the Youtube Video.  Steer to windward as you flatten avoiding turbulence off the rudder.  The main differences in this style of tack are in not putting your foot over beforehand and in not throwing the shoulders in the middle of the tack, instead steering smoothly, waiting until it is pretty much too late then rocketing across and saving the tack for a nice flatten.

Roll Gybes

The light wind overhand gybes were designed, I thought, to have a conservative gybe that would lose no speed but gain no speed, they would be perfectly legal under rule 42 but they don't need the same recovery time as the old powerful roll gybes needed to get the flow reattached on the sails.  My label for this type of gybe is the Light Air Laser Overhand Gybes and Hanny Buitenwerf does a great example of this in the clip above and to the left.  When I was first coaching these gybes I discouraged athletes from rolling when they were using this style, because if they were going to roll they might as well do a big aggressive roll gybe (take a look at the pics from 2008 when I was working on perfecting the ultra-aggressive roll gybe... and when I had less hair).  But innovation continued and a slight roll to regain lost speed in the overhand gybe turned into a bigger and bigger smooth motion that now gains an incredible amount of speed outright.  I'll refer to it as an Overhand Roll Gybe.  In my opinion, everyone should learn these in training, but the gybes must be toned down while racing.  Juries (acting under Appendix P) have been slow to pick up on the incredible gains that athletes are getting out off their gybes, from my experience.  I have pointed this out on occasions, and have heard the reply several times that sailing is self-enforced, so we are encouraged to protest one another when we break a rule like rule 42 rather than depending on the Jury.  I just bring up Juries and Appendix P because the overhand gybes that we have been practising over the winter are gargantuan.  My team mate can gain over 2 boat lengths on me in one gybe travelling parallel in the right conditions and I am getting there as well.  My take on enforcing Rule 42 is that we should enforce it rigorously and consistently and then when we find that the current rule is oppressive, we should have a conversation about modifying it somehow, possibly in the Laser Class Rules to reflect the current practices.  It could be something like what the Fins and 470s do or it could be something more subtle.  Maybe it could be a system for self-enforcement that sailors would be more comfortable engaging with: a 360 penalty or a DPI penalty of less than fleet score that could be taken if a certain number of sailors file a grievance against an aggressive sailor.   My concern is that Laser sailing is building a culture that is tolerant to breaking Rule 42 instead of making a better rule.  

At any rate the answer is not censure the gybe, so here is the gybe that I am so excited about described in point form.  I hope to get it on film in the not too distant future: 

1-      Start by the lee

2-      Extend your tiller extension out towards the mainsheet that spans from the boom to the traveller so far out that you turns the tiller slightly to leeward.  To match this turn roll the boat gently to leeward and lean out towards the span of mainsheet ready to grab it. 

3-      Hook the span of mainsheet on the end of your extended tiller extension.

4-      In one movement let go of the mainsheet from the mainsheet block and grab both sheets of the span of mainsheet as far up towards the boom as possible.  Help yourself by bringing the sheet hooked on the tiller extension towards your forward hand.

5-      With the mainsheet from the boom in your hand and keeping your arm straight, lean back across the boat rolling it from leeward heel to windward heel thereby causing your course to be an arc.  Allow the arc, following it with the rudder.  This leaning back also starts to pull the sail in.

6-      At the end of the roll flick the sail the rest of the way across the boat by pulling it over with your arm (without letting go of the sheets).

7-      Pause and let the sail fill on the new side keeping heel on the new leeward side.  As the sail fills you will feel a bit of pressure on your hand.  At this point drop the mainsheet from the boom and pick it back up from the mainsheet block.  As you do this, sit down on the new windward side of the boat shifting the heel now to the new windward side and curving the boat’s course towards the new by the lee angle. 

8-      Adjust the sail as necessary for the new by the lee angle

9-      Complete the hand exchange

There are a couple of major changes between what I have called the Light Air Overhand Gybe and the Overhand Roll Gybe.  In the Overhand Roll Gybe you pull the sail mostly with your body rather than mostly with your arm (tricep).  Also in the Overhand Roll Gybe you follow a slightly curved course matching the roll of the boat instead of keeping the boat straight through the pullover.

At the end here are some pictures from 2008 of the ridiculously aggressive roll gybes that we used to practice.  Again this is not for racing, but when you learn to propel the boat with extreme kinetics you get to know the feel of the dynamics of the boat and that gives you more versatility to do all sorts of different manoeuvres.


Thanks to the Calgary Yacht Club for letting me use their camera while coaching Hanny.
Thanks to Hanny Buitenwerf for letting me use her clip.
Thanks to the Able family in Victoria for letting me take part in the on-water professional photo shoot that they organized back in 2008.

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