Overexertion

Not feeling well I’d been away from sailing for while more.  Forecast for Saturday was perfectly pleasant.  Forecast for Sunday was hot and windy.  I elected to sail Saturday and skip Sunday.  As I often do, I first asked at the dockhouse if anyone was waiting for instruction.  No one was so I took the day for myself with a Laser.  The Laser might be seen by some as physical or challenging but for me it’s like home.  It’s similar in size to the Butterfly that I learned on as a teen and while a little faster and more responsive has a similar feel.  My Sonar red test last year was hard.  The problem was that I didn’t really have much time in the Sonar or even any similar boats.  My closest experience of any significance was in the Rhodes 19s on harbor trips in the past, but really it wasn’t that much experience and anyway the Sonar is different enough, and the sailing different enough, that I’m not sure how well the experience translates.  My Laser red test on the other hand was ridiculously easy.  While I have very few hours in the Laser, it’s similar enough to the Butterfly that sailing it comes as second nature.

So the problem this day was that it was too nice.  I sailed to the Mass Ave bridge once, then even though I was feeling some warning signs of pain, I set off to do it again.  Half way there the pain was worse.  This is just pain from using muscles that were very sadly out of shape.  I continued.  I was sad when I got to the bridge that I had to turn around.  I sailed the length of my perimeter fence and headed back.  Then on the way there was the test course.  One quick circuit of the test course before I conceded and headed in.

The biggest lesson for the day was that rule 42 stinks.  That’s the “propulsion” rule: “…only the wind and water…to propel the boat.”  Recently I’d watched with amazement some Finn races under flag Oscar — which allows them to use “kinetics” to propel the boat, in variance of rule 42.  Most interesting was the rocking and pumping downwind.  I tried it.  I had seen that while sailors would pump at different times, most would coordinate a pump with a roll to leeward.  I found that without pumping, the sail tended to be strongly full on the roll to windward but would often go slack right when the boom was coming closest to the water.  So, it’s pretty simple and easy to pull the sheet at that time to keep the sail full and re-ease it as the boat rolls back to windward.  Wow that worked well.  The boat was going nicely, then I stopped the kinetics and it was like sailing into a hole.  Most surprising was that this particular technique didn’t take much extra strength or effort.  It doesn’t take much effort to get the boat rolling.  Then if the sheeting is done when the sail is nearly slack, that doesn’t take much strength.  This is different than what you read on the internet.  You read that it’s physical and requires strong athletes.  Hmm, maybe some techniques are physical but this one isn’t.  How does it work?  All you read on the internet is that the sailors are “pumping” with their strength and “rowing” with the sail.  I think something really different might be going on:  the rolling is increasing apparent wind and the pumping is simply trimming to cycle of the apparent wind.  Not too hard and very fun.

Oh, but just sailing I think was overexertion for me.  I won’t detail it all but writing 24 hours later here I’m still in pain.

Weather:  82F, partly cloudy, Wind WSW (straight down the basin) at 10 gusting to 20 mph. This is by MIT data since the CBI weather station seems down.  MIT gives speed in mph while CBI always said knots.  Flag stayed yellow all day even though the wind picked up a little more later in the afternoon.  MIT showed gust to 25 for a while but I might have been off the water by then.  Either way the Laser was planing nicely off the wind in the stronger gusts.  I had some great rides on beam reach.

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