Tacking

The Blaze has relatively little rocker - hence it's not exactly a Laser or an Enterprise when it comes to tacking in light winds. It's all about practice and not rushing the boat. Roll the boat to windward facing across the boat, probably on your knees if very light. This starts the turn, add just a minute amount of helm and then let the rudder follow - no force either way by the helm. If you get it right you can keep some speed on and just before the windward wing contacts the water get across and now just maintain the rudder at constant angle. Once across (the boats now leaning to leeward of course) bring it up just enough to crack the battens over, perhaps with a little encouragement on the mainsheet, but do not sheet in aggressively - allow a little speed to develop and bring the boat up to a 'normal' light wind angle - just a little leeward heel. With a bit more speed sheet in slowly to correct angle - easy really! But a lot of practice is needed .... Many ex-laser sailors etc get frustrated as the same approach that worked previously can result in a stopped Blaze - but then they often have a raked rudder that kicks the boat forward if you 'use' it. Give them a vertical rudder and they might stop as well! The key is to be smooth and NOT rush things - good technique is heavily rewarded. Also you do need to go behind the mainsheet in the tack - and then gently forward again. Also in light winds - ALWAYS take the tiller extension around the back. Taking it 'through' forward when its very light means inevitably forcing the rudder rather than letting it 'follow' - it's a very effective brake. As with all classes - get along to the meetings, not to win at first necessarily, but mainly to accelerate your learning. Make a point of watching effective technique and then practice yourself. It's the cheapest form of training anywhere.... Oh and do come along to the Nationals, even if only for a day. Regard it as a really cost effective investment and by far the quickest way to learn the specific class skills. If you are struggling a bit without a fleet around you at your club a planned season of the Nationals and a couple of meetings will transform your course speed. Good luck ! Mike Lyons