Mostly it is not the boat but the sailor that gives up! The laser can be sailed in extremely windy conditions. Have a look at the video below. The average windspeed in this video is 35 knots and most of the time the sailor is in control. Learn how to keep the boat under control in extreme sailing conditions!
The laser is really hard to balance. In an other article we talk about how important it is to balance your boat when sailing upwind. In extremely windy conditions this is even more important. The moment your boat heals over, your boom will hit the water and you will capsize immediately. The margin for error gets smaller as it gets windier.
The most risky heading is downwind. A little mistake in balancing the boat results in a capsize either to windward or leeward. Also when sailing upwind it is difficult to keep the boat balanced. You need to decrease the pressure in the sail by pulling all the trim lines. This makes the sail flat and less powerful. In really windy conditions it is not enough to just de-power the sail. You also need to ease the mainsheet to get rid of some pressure. To balance the boat you keep trimming the mainsheet in and out. Again, a little mistake in trimming the mainsheet can easily end in a capsize. The easiest heading for really windy conditions is reaching. As soon as you think you loose control over the boat, you can always bring the boat on a reaching angle.
If it gets really windy and you start loosing control over your boat, do not panic! Make sure your trim lines are set correctly and aim for a reaching angle. The correct trim is: Set your outhaul as tight as possible. Set your cunningham on 50-75%. Ease the vang (kicker) almost completely. This setup will give you the option to use the mainsheet as an accelerator. For more information about trimming a laser sail have a look at this video serie. If you pull the mainsheet you will increase the pressure in the sail, but as soon as you drop the mainsheet the pressure is gone. Because of the loose vang, the risk of capsizing is smaller, as your boom won’t hit the water immediately. Above all: enjoy the battle with the elements!
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