Lasers may look small and insignificant, yet they can be one of the most enjoyable and exciting water vessels around. And despite its seemingly simple construction, it takes a certain amount of knowledge, skill, and experience to operate it perfectly. That said, here are some laser sailing tips for you to get started with. We’ve included laser sailing tips for beginners as well as some intermediate to advanced tips as well. So bring out your sailing sunglasses and let’s get started.
1. Learn How to Sail
If you are completely new to sailing, you’d be better off starting with learning the basics. There are plenty of ways to do so, but by far the most effective method is to learn sailing first hand. Get some experience by joining your local sailing club or school. Here you’ll learn the different sailing theories as well as the different skills like rigging and launching a laser sailboat, sailing theories, and others. Once you’ve got some hands-on experience, continue your education by reading up on different sailing books or watching videos online. First-hand experienced plus knowledge gained through other resources will help you become a better sailor later on.
2. Practice Knot-tying
When it comes to laser sailing, there are two most commonly used knots: the bowline knot and the figure-8 knot. If you haven’t tried these knots before, be sure to ask your sailing buddies to teach them to you. You’ll also want to learn some of the not commonly used knots in laser sailing like the clove-hitch and the half-hitch.
3. Start Easy
Many beginners often make the mistake of taking on rough waters right from the start as they think that smooth waters don’t offer enough challenge for them to learn. However, this comes with a lot of disadvantages. For one, this puts you at the risk of capsizing (being an inexperienced sailor and all) and at risk of serious and fatal injuries. That said, as a beginner, you’ll want to start your training on smooth and tranquil waters with little to no traffic.
4. Keep an Eye Out for the Weather
Weather conditions have a significant effect on how the water behaves, so you’ll want to make sure you keep an eye out for any sudden and drastic changes in the weather. Never go out into the open without knowing what to expect. And even if the weather forecast is favorable, you’ll still want to be vigilant and being extra clothing like a sailing jacket and ample provision for when the weather takes an unexpected turn.
5. Practice Man-overboard Situations
Even the most seasoned sailors have experienced going overboard or capsized their dinghies at some point. Going overboard is not a question of whether or not it will happen, but rather a question of when it will happen. That said, it is best to start practicing capsizing or man-overboard drills. This will help you develop muscle memory and ensure that you are ready when the situation does happen. Be sure to wear your life vest whenever you’re in the water, even if you’re confident about your swimming skills.
6. Mark Your Mainsheet
A common problem with laser sailing is learning to set the mainsheet correctly while traveling downwind. One trick that many laser sailors use is to set the boom to ninety degrees while still onshore and then mark the sheet at the boom block. Sailors use this mark as a reference point when they need more speed downwind.
7. Set Your Traveler Right
Setting up the traveler rope correctly to ensure that the sail and end of the boom are sheeted to the back corner of the dinghy while sailing upwind can dramatically increase the height and speed of your boat. When sailing in light winds, make sure that your traveler is pulled tightly to minimize the distance between the deck and the traveler block. Also, choose a traveler rope that has little to no stretch in it and use a simple half-hitch when tying it.
8. Outhaul Calibration Marks
Calibration marks allow you to have a visual reference for your sail settings, allowing you to set up your sail easily while you’re out in the water. For the outhaul, try putting a few wraps of tape around the boom or marking it with a marker where the outhaul blocks are located. For some sailors, this means just behind the cleat on the boom.
9. Vang Calibration Marks
Setting up calibration marks for the vang can also help ensure smooth sailing. For most sailors, the vang marks are on the middle of the primary line of the vang cascade. Again, you can use some tape or a marker to mark the points.
10. Choose the Right Tiller
There are many different types of tillers out in the market, but in general, you’ll be looking for those that have certain characteristics. For one, you’ll want a tiller that is lightweight to save grams on your boat. You’ll also want a tiller that is stiff and responsive. With these characteristics, you’ll have a better feel for the rudder and has enough rigidity to allow the traveler to pass smoothly through tacks.
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Laser sailing has always been one of the most popular sailing activities for boat weekend warriors and professional athletes. Despite the simplicity of the boat, you’ll do well by learning a few laser sailing tips and techniques to help improve your game. And if you’re new to the sport, it is recommended that you start with the laser sailing tips for beginners mentioned above and go from there.
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