February 18, 2016

Brett Beyer’s Personal Experience With the MK II Sail - an update...

Brett has just won the Aussie Laser Masters, again, beating 38 competitors (and discarding a 1st). While his speed downwind was good, he feels that his speed upwind was not. Here's his report.

By Brett Beyer
I used a brand new MarkII sail at the AUS Master Nationals. About half the fleet used the old cut sail, including some very competitive sailors. I’ve seen the sail in use many times line up against the old cut sail but this was the first time I’ve had the opportunity of using it myself.

Upon first impression, as expected, was the sail has very nice shape and produced more power (but more weather helm) than the old sail. This suited the flatter water and light breezes very nicely. The deeper head and firm leech really provides great feedback and feel. This was very nice upwind, on reaches and downwind. In fact, downwind is where sailors that struggle to precisely set-up correct vang will mostly benefit. It is simply easier to get right downwind and on reaches.

This is all very positive so far and is an easy decision in such conditions. It is when the breeze picks up along with the chop that things can begin to change around.

With most of our races sailed in choppy 8 – 15 knots, I found the sail too ‘sticky’ upwind and couldn’t release the power easily enough. This is usually done with either downhaul and/or vang, but this sail suffered when I pulled any of these systems on. Also, simply getting the sheet tension correct upwind took so much attention away from my sailing that it was difficult to have anything left over for tactics or technique. Any upwind speed advantage I used to have was no longer there with the new sail. At best, I could only stay with the top guys upwind and made all my gains downwind mostly due to technique and not the sail.

Brett in the middle - downwind speed was good.

The perplexing thing for me was that some of those ahead of me were using the new cut sail and seemed to make it work upwind. So whilst I was coming first across the line, I was quite disappointed with my performance upwind. After 3 days of racing I had made up my mind to definitely not use the new sail for Worlds, preferring instead to rely on the predictable performance of the old sail.

On the last day of racing, I had my only upwind where I felt the speed was superior. This, in similar conditions with similar set-up. So why? It seems the sail, with its firmer leeches and better quality cloth needs more ‘break-in’ time than the old cut sail. This was the general agreement amongst those that have used the sail far more than I have.

So, what sail for the Worlds?
  • Answer 1: Old sail if you can’t get enough training time with the new sail.
  • Answer 2: Old sail if you are already comfortable with your speed/height/versatility upwind and wave catching downwind.
  • Answer 3. New sail if you think wind will be lighter, water flatter and you have good sheet tension skills.
  • Answer 4. New sail if you can get to use it in training for more than 1 week.
  • Answer 5. New sail if you expect good winds (14kts+) and have good upwind technical skills and fitness.

February 16, 2016

Florida Masters Week - Part 3

by Doug
The first video from Florida was with Al Clark, former Master World Champion, about how he won the Master Midwinters in full rigs. The second video was with Peter Shope, current Grand Master World Champion, about how he won Midweek Madness in full rigs.

Now, we talk with a woman who beat all the guys to win the radial Midwinters. And when Al switched to radials for Midweek Madness, she tied with him only to lose on handicap because she's younger (age is factored, but not gender!!)

Christine Neville is a great sailor who trains with Peter Shope, so it's perhaps not surprising to hear the similarities about how they sail: pressure first and then direction, judging shifts without a compass, etc.

I love this sport because we can ask women their age and weight without getting decked. Christine graciously told me that she is 5' 10" and weights 155 pounds. We do not sail in the same fleet, but I occasionally have seen her racing. Her technique is very smooth and polished.

February 13, 2016

A Real Canadian Breakfast

By Doug
The sailors arriving at the Florida Masters were treated to a real Canadian breakfast - pancakes and sausages with real maple syrup. Well done!!!

February 12, 2016

Florida Masters Week - Part 2

By Doug
Peter Shope won the second event called Midweek Madness. Peter is the current Laser Grand Master World Champion and he describes how he wins events.

Notice how flat Peter sails in lighter conditions... very fast!

February 10, 2016

Florida Masters Week - Part 1

by Pam
I received an email from Doug with stuff to add to the blog. I guess we'll have to fill in the blanks.  I do know that Doug is one pooped boy.  He even retired from the last race today because of an injury that is so bad he couldn't pull on any controls.  If he doesn't bounce back, he may call it quits, skip the last event and head home early.

In the meantime, Al Clark, won the first event in the full rig fleet and he is now competing in the second event in the Radial and I believe he is winning that too. Quite the switch hitter so Doug is obviously interested in what he has to say.

February 07, 2016

Where It All Began

by Pam 
Oops! Yes, our site was down for a day. The site somehow stopped updating on various blog rolls and was stuck at a post 2 months ago.  A little messing about behind the scenes and and we got the dreaded 404 error.  Maybe the updating is fixed ... maybe not.  For now, we're back up and running!

Tillerman, of the ever so popular Proper Course blog, once told us that he was asked which came first, Proper Course or Improper Course. This gave us a good laugh. There are many excellent sailing blogs out there with lots of great information but we only link to one blog on our site, Proper Course, and we clearly state that it is the “blueprint for our blog - but way better.”

We tend to use people’s real names, pick sides and jump into the middle of Laser politics, and even hang our dirty laundry out for the world to see. We are improper. However, we attempt to redeem ourselves by only pointing to Proper Course. There you will find the jumping off point to all the great sailing blogs as well as a blogger who has been doing it the right way for a very long time. Proper Course is the yang to our yin. We are grateful that Tillerman was such a good sport about us sort of stealing his blog name.

The Improper Course blog officially began 4 years ago during the Florida Masters’ Week on February 12, 2012. Doug was away (like he is now) and I was at home alone and bored (like I am now). His first post was his lessons learned at the 2012 Florida Laser Masters Championship. He said he was doing ‘horrible’ with a 9th place and had ‘tipped more than anyone.’ There were 42 competitors. By the third event that week, he finished 1st. One of my first posts was Masters Week - The Rest of the Story.

The first time I ever heard Doug’s name, I was told a story about how just after he won the Masters Worlds, he was on the docks of his home club showing off his trophy. Meanwhile his Laser was behind him and had untied itself and sailed away. And that is Doug. Just a big doofus who makes mistakes like all of us and yet he somehow manages to do pretty dang well. It’s hard not to feel that if Doug can do it, then so can I.

I found that Doug was more than willing to share everything he knew with anyone that wanted to know. We had been writing for the Butterfly Fleet 20 blog but it was hard to justify adding Doug’s favorite subject, all things Laser, to a Butterfly blog. I found ways to add it but eventually decided to do a spin off blog and moved the Laser focused posts and started Improper Course. That way I could also publish all his Worlds Journals which I found fun to read. And the rest is history. Literally, his story.

Doug likes to refer to the blog as simply being love letters between the two of us. It sort of is. It is our common ground and we do speak a different love language than most. My second post was a Valentine’s Day poem that I wrote since Florida Masters Week means being apart for Valentine's Day. I still wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ode to a Sailor

It’s Valentine’s Day
and my sailor's away.
On, Cupid! On, Donner and ...
er ... oops, wrong red holiday.
I’m just not myself
when my sailor’s away.
But don’t pity me,
for I wouldn’t have it
any other way.
Road trips and regattas,
not chocolates and flowers.
While most women are being adored,
I'll be checking the computer
to see how he scored.
Good news or bad,
either way is okay.
So long as he calls
at the end of the day.
I simply wouldn’t have it
any other way!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Doug was in 4th place at the end of yesterday. Today, he's already moved down to 6th. That man just does not listen to me. I specifically told him to move up and not down. Oh well. He's having a great time I'm sure. Yesterday was light and today was supposed to be heavy. Doug is using the old sail and many are using the new sail. Will be interesting to see if the results show one sail to be better than the other.  
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