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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Old 06-30-2012
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Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

We read lots about the dangers and challenges of heavy air sailing. But what about light air sailing? Which do you consider (and why) to be more challenging?

For purposes of this discussion, I'll define heavy air as sustained 25-35kts and the sea state that often accompanies it. I do not mean survival conditions (35+). I'll define light air as 0-5kts.

For my part, I find light air sailing the most challenging because if the infinite amount of patience involved. Especially light air racing. In heavier winds, there is always something to do to improve the boat's ride. I can even fool myself into believing that motion (mine) equals progress (improving the boat's performance). But light air? Makes me want to scream.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

Beer, music, and an asymmetric spinnaker can help with light air. Maybe even a fishing pole.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

For my money both light and heavy 'air' are challenging but in different ways. Light air challenges my patience while heavy air challenges my nerves as safety becomes much more important in a rough situation.
Think about it. Your rig is not likely to come down in 0 - 5 knots of wind as the stresses on the rig is nothing compared to 25+ knots. Sails usually blow out in squalls, not calms. A MOB situation in light winds should be a cakewalk but in 25+ knots, not so much.
I race so we get plenty of light wind days over the summer. We usually have plenty of time on races like that to tweak anything that can be tweaked.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

I hate no air and I am not a fan of overdoing it in the heavy winds and beating myself and the boat up. I will sail if conditions deteriorate, but i wont leave the dock if its honking 15-20 out of the south which is usually what happens a few afternoons a week here. I generally sail solo so i like a happy medium.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

Light air can be frustrating, like when you are slowly drifting to shore, or an obstacle, and the wind isn't enough to maneuver away from it. But thats when you crank up the "iron genny".

In a race? ....You do remember you are racing the slowest form of transportation known to man? Right?
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

Bill, do you race? Chess is slow too, but shares much in common with light air sailboat racing. Differences between boats is the only 'speed' that's relevant.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

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You do remember you are racing the slowest form of transportation known to man? Right?
You have that right! It could also explain why sailboat racing has such a hard time getting a public following. Unless waves are crashing over the bow, watching a sailboat race is less fun than watching my grass burn up in this heat.

Light air has always bedeviled me. Tweaking is constant and every little puff requires the utmost diligence to exploit. The problem is that light air deadens the senses, so staying focused is especially difficult for most people.

I recall a race on the Hudson off West Point when I sailed for Villanova. We were becalmed with 10 other boats (420s) all clustered together. Everyone was deathly quiet and losing focus with the absurdity of the situation. Then a freighter rounded the corner.... we got focused in a hurry.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

Light air is cool. No wind at all is bad
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

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Originally Posted by PCP View Post
Light air is cool. No wind at all is bad
Amen to that... light air means fly the laundry, no air means break open the beer, cause there's nothing else to do.
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Old 07-01-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

I hate light air simply because my Alberg doesnt move unless there is 5kts. 0-5 and almost nothing happens, except I cook. Its probably just me and my poor sailing skills but light air is very frustrating. On the other hand 20-25 from the south here on the lower chesapeake makes for some really good sailing, 20-25 out of the north is a very very rough day. The boat can handle it...the crew not so much. Was out there in it just a few weeks ago and she sailed beautifully in a 20-25kt NE wind. 100% jib and Reefed main and we scooted right along. I, however, was feeling a little green though......
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