In conditions where boat speed is faster than wave speed, we’re often looking for opportunities to overtaking waves.
Here are 3 useful methods to execute this:
- In most conditions sailing by the lee gives us a lot of speed, depth, and options. Once it’s possible for overtaking waves we want to find the lower spots and jump over them with plenty of speed. VMG by the lee is rarely poor, so briefly gaining some speed and rig force can be useful before attempting to climb over a targeted section of water.
- Waves are beautiful examples of asymmetry in nature. There are often multiple wave directions, heights, widths, speeds, and distances. Waves are always changing shape and bouncing off of one another. This gives us the opportunity to find lower spots in places where 2 different directions or sized waves intersect. Multiple quick transitions usually allow us to step in front. Single direction changes rarely gain the advantage of overtaking a wave; as often you will end up in the same wave or set behind. Be quick with body movements to transition the boat quickly through these low spots.
- Waves can change direction very quickly. As a default try to follow wave direction. This will ensure high speeds at all times which is paramount to overtaking. When given the opportunity to go faster than the wave, attempt to move laterally looking for places to overtake. If the wave is very skewed from its normal direction, consider taking the “surfer’s wave” back towards the original wave’s direction. As the original wave re-forms, you have effectively hopped ahead without having to climb anything. Think of the game “Snakes and Ladders” and the ladders being the skewed waves helping you advance up the board. Learn more techniques like these ones and more at an ISA clinic this winter and take your Laser sailing to the next level.