We had a reader who noted Doug's recent decision to never sail a Radial again after getting chicked at the Laser Master Worlds in Oman and asked if Doug would elaborate on the reasons for his decision. Short answer (and I suspect the real answer) is that women don't sail full rigs at the Worlds so he'll never get chicked again. Long answer is more complicated but was also decided by the experience in Oman.
Weight and Rig
Lots of people have written about the recommended weights for the various rig sizes and there are differing opinions. Even Performance Sailcraft Australia and Laser Performance have differing recommendations on their websites.
|PSA Brochure||65+ kg|
|PSA Pathway||70+ kg|
Decision for Local Fleet Sailing
Doug and I sail at opposite ends of the experience spectrum. He wants to win at the highest level and I just want to use the Laser as a training tool for other boats and to stay fit. Even though we sail at different levels and for different reasons, we often make the same decision for the same reason. From the below average to the highly experienced sailor, regardless of weight, the decision will always come down to the constant: what people in your fleet are sailing vs. the variable: what you can handle comfortably. And what you can handle comfortably will vary depending on the weather at the venues where you sail.
Even though Doug is quite competitive in a full rig, he'd lost enough weight that he had decided to switch to the Radial at World events so that he would be more competitive. However, he still only sailed a full rig for local fleet sailing. In fact, since 2012 he's only sailed a Radial in 4 regattas (2012 US Laser Nationals - 7th out of 46; 2012 Australian Master Nationals - 3rd out of 27; 2012 Brisbane Master Worlds - 4th out of 26; 2013 Oman Master Worlds - 4th out of 23). We both agree he made a mistake in choice of rig in Oman but there were health variables that made it the smarter decision but he also learned some very important lessons which is the basis for returning to a full rig only and he'll elaborate on that in Radial or Full Rig - Part 2
There aren't many (usually any) masters aged women in my district that sail a Laser. Being a light sailor, I should be in a Radial or even a 4.7 but when I do sail a Laser it is almost always in a full rig simply because I would rather start with and compete against people my own age rather than kids (they rarely mix the fleets in our district). I have a better shot at beating a master sailor in a full rig than a kid in a Radial or 4.7. If the wind is light, I have a really good shot at beating a few guys my own age but if the wind is heavy I only have a slim shot at not being blown off the course. In reality, I sail a full rig in light to medium winds and then become a spectator in heavier winds. I could certainly switch to a Radial in heavier winds but that puts me with the kids and I'm not fit enough to go head to head with a kid in wind and certainly don't want to be reminded that I'm no longer a kid. So my experience in a Laser in heavy winds is usually double handed with Doug, which is kind of cool because if I'm tired, he hikes while I drive, and I get one on one coaching and it's a blast.
So, bottom line, whatever rig is best for you will likely get trumped by whatever rig the bulk of the fleet is sailing. If you are fortunate enough to have good fleets for both rigs, then go for the rig that is the most fun (you'll stay with the sport longer).
Decision for World Level Sailing
Below are Doug's weights, rigs, and finishes at various World/National venues after he started keeping track of his weight:
|2013||Oman Master Worlds||Light||Radial||168 lbs / 76 kg||4th|
|2012||Brisbane Master Worlds||Medium||Radial||172 lbs / 78 kg||4th|
|2012||Brisbane AU Master Nationals||Windy||Radial||172 lbs / 78 kg||3rd|
|2012||Houston US Nationals||Mixed||Radial||168 lbs / 76 kg||7th|
|2010||Halifax Master Worlds||Windy||Standard||168 lbs / 76 kg||6th|
|2008||Sydney Master Worlds||Medium||Standard||190 lbs / 86 kg||12th|
|2007||Spain Master Worlds||Medium||Standard||186 lbs / 85 kg||9th|
|2006||Korea Master Worlds||Mixed||Standard||180 lbs / 81 kg||1st|
|2001||Ireland Master Worlds||Medium||Standard||183 lbs / 83 kg||8th|
|2000||Cancun Master Worlds||Medium||Standard||183 lbs / 83 kg||3rd|
|1999||Melbourne Master Worlds||Honking||Standard||182 lbs / 82 kg||3rd|
|1998||Gorge Master World Games||Honking||Standard||182 lbs / 82 kg||2nd|
|1997||Chile Master Worlds||Mixed||Standard||185 lbs / 83 kg||1st|
Doug has what I would call a very intimate relationship with the full rig but the Radial is an absolute stranger. He has sailed a full rig thousands of times in just about every condition possible and he knows what subtle boat handling changes to make as the conditions change. He takes advantage of changes that last only seconds and might only move him a few seconds ahead but those add up at the finish line. When it comes to the Radial, he can't feel the boat at all. The subtle things that work in the full rig just don't work in the Radial. At the Brisbane Master Worlds, he was a half a leg ahead in the Radial fleet at one point and still pulling away. He couldn't repeat that again if he tried because he didn't know what he was doing and why it was working. I had already challenged him on whether he really knew how to sail a Radial since he didn't sail it regularly. There may or may not be a variety of subtle changes that he can make in the Radial that add up at the finish line but without much experience, he's just a very good sailor in a rig he doesn't know. He'll do well but probably won't beat someone with more experience in that rig. In Oman, he watched Vanessa (who constantly smiled back at him) and he matched what he saw her doing and she just kept smiling back at him and going faster.
In Part 2, we'll hear Doug's reasons for changing to a Radial and back to a full rig … so that he'll never get chicked at a Worlds again.