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Old 09-08-2019, 21:24   #1
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Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Took my 12í Hobie Holder out for the first time today. Itís similar to a laser, as far as I can tell - but less sporty. Iíve read a few books, watched tons of videos, and felt ready. To be honest, I thought Iíd have no problem after seeing how easy it looks on YouTube. Dropped my family at the beach and drove a few miles to the marina, put my boat in, and I was off.

The wind was steady and not too strong. I was able to get going the right direction and enjoyed myself. The wind picked up a bit and I got my first taste of being overpowered - the boat started heeling over (still learning the lingo, so correct me if thatís the wrong was to say tilting). It was a bit scary at first, but when I realized I could put my feet under the hiking line and lean back, it got real fun. Until I ever so slightly tapped the rudder and either heeled too far or turned around and had to dodge a boom and/or try to not roll the boat over.

I ended up in the water a few times, but had no trouble getting back in and moving towards the beach. A few times the boat would turn while I was in the water and I had a rough time getting started as I was pointed into the wind. The boat is a bit tippy when not moving. 3/4 of the way to the beach and it turtled. I couldnít flip it back over, but had a relative nearby on a ski boat. They put the mast/sail on their boat and I tied a ski rope to my boat and we towed it in.

After an hour break, I got back on the boat and stayed near the beach practicing my turns. Overall, it was awesome and Iím looking forward to getting back out tomorrow. Couple questions:

- do bigger guys have harder times with these little boats? Iím 6í4Ē 240lbs, and it sucked dodging the boom. Took one real good shot to my head, but managed to avoid it mostly.

- best way to practice turns? I tried near the beach, but I was dodging boats, kayaks, jet skis, swimmers, etc. I ended up on my knees in the middle of the boat to avoid the boom and just sorta rocked side to side as needed. I couldnít really sit on the side going so slowly, or the boat probably wouldíve tipped.

They donít tell you in the books or videos how difficult it is to balance everything at the same time. Trying to hold the rudder and manage the main sheet without blinking, because the slightest movement seems to make a huge difference- then looking for other boats/people, trying to understand the wind, leaning over the boat and trying to understand where the boom is going to end up when I turn the rudder - lots to absorb. I spent a lot of time trying to figure if I needed to go left or right when I started heeling too much. And, how to pull in the main sheet with one hand, because when I try to pass it to my backhand, the rudder moves and I end up in the water.
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Old 09-08-2019, 22:05   #2
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

It takes some time, but it sounds like you need to learn the different points of sail and how much to let out the main sheet on each. Many people have a tendency to always pull the sail in tight no matter which way the boat is heading in relation to the wind, my friend does this... he can’t understand how a boat can actually go faster if he lets out the mainsheet and jib sheet. To him, he’s only “sailing” when the sails are pulled in tight and the boat is heeled over, then of course, the first good blast of wind knocks him over and he gets very scared and usually returns to the marina because “it got stormy out there.”

I’ve tried many times to explain it to him, but he just doesn’t get it. So because of this, I can’t allow him to take the helm or take watch on our larger boats. He needs to first take a sailing course on a sailing dinghy. You have the perfect boat to learn on.

Good luck.
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Old 09-08-2019, 22:12   #3
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

I definitely need to work on that. My default position was holding the sail in tight. I tried playing with it, and I’m sure it comes with time, but I was having a hard time balancing the sail position, the rudder position, and the position of my butt on the side of the boat .

I tried experimenting by keeping the rudder still and just moving the sail in/out, or holding the sail still and moving the rudder. It just sucks that a wrong turn and I can quickly be on my back in the water. I guess I could’ve been at work today, so there are worse things than getting dunked in the lake.
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Old 09-08-2019, 22:22   #4
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Try to remember that when you’re beginning to heel over too far, first let the sail out a little before you adjust the rudder to compensate. The boat will quickly flatten out.
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Old 09-08-2019, 22:28   #5
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

I started figuring that out, but I tended to overcompensate and would completely let go of the main sheet. I’m reading up on points of sale and gonna spend some time with the ASA sailing app game. Thanks for the responses.
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Old 09-08-2019, 22:43   #6
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Glad you're out there doing it. Sounds fun, like I can remember that far back!


In addition to YT, have you read Sailing for Dummies? It is really an excellent book. You could probably pick it up for a song or if you're in an area with a good library...


Good luck, keep at it.
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Old 09-08-2019, 22:57   #7
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Let the sail out until it flaps and then pull it back in a little until the flapping stops. That's a good starting point.
If you are heeling too much you can counteract it by hiking, easing the sail or by turning a little bit towards the wind. A combination of the three will work best when you are learning.
When you are sailing try to sail in a straight line. Choose a target on the horizon (a building, tree, cloud etc) and sail towards it so you can feel the boat settle down and find a good balance between heel, sail trim and how much rudder you need to use.
You can tack slowly at first to avoid getting whacked by the boom. The kids tack in about 1.5 seconds but there is no reason you can't make it last 5 seconds. If you have some speed your momentum will take you through the turn. If you miss a couple of tacks and you end up head to wind and stopped it's no big deal in a dinghy. Start the turn slowly, the boat will slow down and the sail will depower so the heeling will stop, as you go through the wind the boom will come accross and you will have time to get setup and ready to hike on the new side.
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Old 09-08-2019, 23:05   #8
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Remember that the only time you pull the sheet tight is when you're trying to go as close to the wind as possible. Perhaps a cycle helmet would be a plan first couple of days -- once you get the hang of things you will know when the boom is about to come near your head and be well out of the way.
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Old 09-08-2019, 23:11   #9
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Some great visuals there, with you dodging the boom, getting whacked on the head occasionally, and falling overboard several times. It must have been quite the show from the shore if anyone was watching.
Sounds like you had a lot of fun. It can only get easier every time you go out. Like driving a car, you need the muscle memory.
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Old 10-08-2019, 00:54   #10
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Might be better if you can get a few sails in a bit less wind. Things would happen a bit slower, giving you a bit more time to figure out what you should be doing.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:11   #11
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

While learning on a dinghy like yours I suggest you start by just sitting on either side of the cockpit, or even in the middle, and do not hike. Use only two controls to start with - sheet and helm. Leave the hiking until youíve got the first two down pat.

Practice the main points of sail: close hauled, close reaching, beam reaching, broad reaching, and downwind. Pick sailing days with light winds - if you see more than occasional whitecaps then donít go out. And get away from the beach so youíve got some clear water.

At first adjust only one control, sheet or helm. Once youíre comfortable with each individually, start to combine. Only do stuff if you know why you are doing that stuff.

If you get overpowered and heel then let the mainsheet out enough to take the pressure off but not so much that the sail loses all power. If underpowered and heeling to windward try sheeting in a bit, but donít over sheet! As an earlier poster wrote, the sail should always be on the point of just barely not luffing (except when going dead downwind, then keep the boom 90 degrees to the wind).

If the wind is forward of the beam you can head up slightly (using the helm) to lightly luff the sail to depower it. If the wind is aft of the beam bear away a bit. Do this instead of easing the sheet.

Wearing a helmet is not a bad idea. Iím not super big (5-10 and 190) but in a Laser Iím grovelling in the bottom of the cockpit for each tack and gybe. If you canít stay on your feet try to at least stay on your knees. Lean forward - donít do the limbo.

Hiking is used so you can use more power to go faster. Definitely a more advanced skill and youíll be swimming lots if you donít know your points of sail and how to manage power.

Sounds like youíre having fun. Keep at it!
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:32   #12
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

At some point, the light will come on and you’ll understand how the sails work. It’s like figuring out a magic trick.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:38   #13
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salt to Sea View Post
I definitely need to work on that. My default position was holding the sail in tight. I tried playing with it, and I’m sure it comes with time, but I was having a hard time balancing the sail position, the rudder position, and the position of my butt on the side of the boat .

I tried experimenting by keeping the rudder still and just moving the sail in/out, or holding the sail still and moving the rudder. It just sucks that a wrong turn and I can quickly be on my back in the water. I guess I could’ve been at work today, so there are worse things than getting dunked in the lake.
It's like you said earlier, it's a lot to absorb and no one can really explain it all to you

The good news is that if you keep practicing you will finally get it

Depending on wind speed sometimes you can leave the main sheeted tight especially if you learn to watch the water and steer into the gusts just before they arrive

But if you are headed in a certain direction on the compass and the wind is steady then you may want to play the sheet. (like if you are heading to a certain mark in a race)

Other times you will steer into the gusts, play the sheet to ease or tighten the sail, while at the same time adjusting body position

After you learn all this, it may be time to go racing which will place boats very close to you while you do all this.

As far as your size, that should help on heavy wind days after you learn where you need to be on the boat and when
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:03   #14
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

I appreciate the replies and suggestions. Most of the trip I was sailing close reach or close hauled (see pictures). I started at the marina at the top and headed towards the beach (the x at the bottom). You can see the wind direction. I think sailing so close to the wind made it a little more difficult because I was right on the edge, so a slight bump of the rudder and Iíd completely stop moving. On the other hand, it was a bit of a security blanket being able to turn into the wind if I felt I was losing control.

Later in the day I started letting the sheet out rather than turning into the wind, but I havenít found a great way to let it out and bring it in in a controlled way, while holding the rudder with the other hand. I tried passing the sheet to my rudder hand, but even a small movement would make the boat rock quite a bit. Maybe it wasnít rocking that much and I was just being a baby. Looking forward to getting on the water and playing with my dinghy again today.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:24   #15
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Re: Itís way harder than those YouTube videos make it look!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salt to Sea View Post
- do bigger guys have harder times with these little boats? Iím 6í4Ē 240lbs, and it sucked dodging the boom. Took one real good shot to my head, but managed to avoid it mostly.

- best way to practice turns? I tried near the beach, but I was dodging boats, kayaks, jet skis, swimmers, etc. I ended up on my knees in the middle of the boat to avoid the boom and just sorta rocked side to side as needed. I couldnít really sit on the side going so slowly, or the boat probably wouldíve tipped.

They donít tell you in the books or videos how difficult it is to balance everything at the same time. Trying to hold the rudder and manage the main sheet without blinking, because the slightest movement seems to make a huge difference- then looking for other boats/people, trying to understand the wind, leaning over the boat and trying to understand where the boom is going to end up when I turn the rudder - lots to absorb. I spent a lot of time trying to figure if I needed to go left or right when I started heeling too much. And, how to pull in the main sheet with one hand, because when I try to pass it to my backhand, the rudder moves and I end up in the water.
Great questions. I am similarly sized, and I'd offer that virtually no 12' boat is very comfortable or intended for a guy of our size. A Laser, one of the most popular boats in the world, is also uncomfortable for big guys. Part of it is the small side decks for a big tush, and part of it is the low boom clearance. There are boats that are better for big guys. I owned a Megabyte for many years and it was a veritable couch compared to other boats in that size range. Deeper cockpit combined with higher boom. And just a better boat overall than a Laser, or Holder, or FJ, etc.

Second, learning to sail on a sensitive boat in a crowded area is going to be disappointing, and you don't want to get frustrated and quit. Ideally, you'd find a lake that is long/wide enough to stay on a single tack for 10 minutes or so. Understand sail trim and steering in a single direction. Tacking will always be a bit of a fire drill, but you'll soon learn to a) always face forward, b) pass the tiller/tiller extension behind your back, and c) not allow the main to ease too much because you can't hold everything at the same time. You can do it, but I would compare it to starting out in first gear in a manual tranny car. Yes, it's very hard initially, but after a while it's completely unconscious.

Yes, small boats are tough on knees. That's where the deeper cockpit is handy. If you get a chance, look at a Lido 14 and see how much more room it has than a conventional flat boat like a Laser. That room keeps you off your knees, and on your feet.

You may also want to look at something like a Catalina 16.5. I've always thought they look "right" and I suspect the sail well with one adult or two or three.

Cheers,

Chuck
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