Saturday, November 10, 2018

_________________ CROSSING OVER TO THE DARK SIDE ________________

I have never really had much time for the International Laser. I have referred to them as floating fridge doors and been scornful of their lack of freeboard, the oddity of their sleeve mains'l that fits over the mast and their ubiquitous looks that seem to lack any individuality. I have been confirmed in my opinion by skippers who tell me they are difficult to sail and because of their low freeboard they have to sit in a slightly awkward manner with their knees up higher than in most other boats. Generally I have always been dismissive of the Laser.

Today I went out and bought myself a Laser.

 My reasons for purchasing a Laser are:

- My Zephyr (In the foreground in the above photos) has developed a crack in the planking and the keel and is leaking badly. I have always intended to do a complete restoration of this old girl and now it is imperative that I do so.

- While I am completing this restoration I need a boat to race in the same way I need oxygen.

- There are two fleets racing at the OYC on a Tuesday night or on weekends. I have been racing the Zephyr in the slow fleet, which has now diminished in number to about four boats.

- The fast fleet is mainly comprised of Lasers, either the Radial or Full Rig. To take part in the racing in this highly competitive fleet I need to be sailing a Laser, simple as that.

So it's a pragmatic decision. To get the 'one to one', one design competition with the local fleet I need to be sailing a Laser, end of story. I will be able to indulge in 'one to one' competition again in the Zephyr at the Nationals next year in Tauranga if I get the restoration completed in time.

Weekly competitive yacht racing is my gym workout for the week, I love it and look forward to it with a relish. Hopefully with time I will come to regard my new boat with a bit of affection although admiring a floating fridge door is going to take a bit of a turn around - but, well, hmmm, when I got the boat home and stood looking at the velocity of her sleek lines and her hungry breaking bad 'go get'em' attitude,  I am feeling a softening in these old nautical bones and I am looking forward to embracing a bit of the dark side.


Barubi said...

To complain about the Laser’s faults is like protesting about the mass of the weights at the gym.
Look at the shallow cockpit as an aid to core strength, the rudder rake as an arm workout, having to step the mast with sail attached as cross training. And the sheet catching under the gunwale in a gybe is a reminder to go sailing more often for skills practice.

Alden Smith said...

I like your way of putting a positive spin on the workout that a Laser gives a sailor - but so do most small centreboard / dagger board yachts. My dislikes are mainly aesthetic really. But I give myself some kudos for being pragmatic about the nature of the competition that is available to me and making a commitment to the Laser by purchasing one. Sailing a Laser will either confirm all my previous opinions or bring a softening of attitude, I am holding out for a change : > ) - time will tell.

Ben said...

Hi Alden,
Renée said: is Alden in his second midlife crisis?
When do you start kite surfing?
The sailing fridge door looks fine to me. Saw a race 2 years ago on the IJsselmeer. Very spectacular, but I did not see any 60+ sailors then.
The issues on the zephyr, crack in the planking and leaking keel is because of heavy usage under bad conditions?

Tillerman said...

Hmmm. I have almost escaped from the seductive charms of the Laser after 30 years in her clutch. After 4 years of sailing an RS Aero I never thought I would ever sail a Laser again.

And yet... I would like to sail more in the winter and around here we have Aero racing on Saturdays in Bristol and Laser racing on Sundays in Newport. Some weekends one or the other day is cancelled because of the weather. I am tempted to cross over to the dark side some weekends this winter just to get more days in.

I like Sarubi's comment. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

I look forward to reading about how you get on with the Laser.

Alden Smith said...

Ben, I have had about 10 mid life crisis - this is post retirement 'crisis' of the very best sort - a crisis I hope to repeat over and over (But I am going to on sell some of the boats I am not using regularly.

Alden Smith said...

Tillerman, I can often be seen salivating over utube videos of the RS Aero - I think I could just squeeze one into the carport - but someone else who lives here may have other ideas about this!

I have read 'RS Aero versus the Laser' postings on the internet. There is much to love about the Aero; its weight and its speed. But one thing concerns me and that is the narrowness of the beam at the waterline - some sailors have written about spending a lot of times on their knees when sailing downwind in lightish breezes trying to keep the boat balanced - how do you find this? is it an issue?

I will keep you posted about my adventures in the Laser - so far so good, but I am about to try out the big rig - I have only used the Radial rig to date.

Tilerman said...

Alden, I don't find balancing the Aero downwind to be an issue. I guess you have to be a little more sensitive to your weight placement than in a Laser but you soon get the feel for it. Generally you should not be kneeling on the cockpit floor, but rather facing sideways sitting on the edge of the windward deck but with most of your weight on your feet (placed either side of cockpit.) Usually I have my aft knee down too and my front knee up. It's then very easy to move weight from side to side to balance the boat or assist in steering.

Good luck with the Laser. Look forward to reading all about it.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for the comment - there are not a lot of RS Aeros here in NZ yet. It will be interesting to see if a racing fleet develops.

I'll keep you posted about my forays into the big rig Laser.