An Intro to Hiking on a Laser Sailboat

As the breeze builds up hiking becomes more and more important. Letting up on your hiking just for a second can literally slow your laser down by 2kts or more! Slipping sideways and moving to the back of the pack. The top Olympic laser sailors train everyday to be able to sustain lots of tough days in a row giving their all. The difference between the top world class sailors and everyone else is that they can hike just a bit harder for longer. They'll hike hard the whole race whereas other competitors might only be able to hike hard 85-90% of the time. Tactics also play a role, but sometimes it's better to be fast than a tactical expert, especially when the breeze is up. If you can do well tactically and give a full hiking effort you'll find yourself at the top of the pack.

Adjust your Toestrap / Hiking Strap for the conditions

first off set your hiking strap up so that it's adjustable, the loose setting can be used to extend your body out just a little bit extra and the tight setting can be used for reaching and really connecting with the boat. Sailing upwind you can really be aggressive with body movements to keep the boat flat and moving as fast as possible.

Position Yourself for Hiking Power

You want your legs fairly straight with some bend at the knees, locking your knees can be bad for your knees, so keep a comfortable bend. Get your butt up out off the water and really use those quads for power. Keep good posture with your back allowing for a proper arch. You don't want your back to look like a turtle! Keep your arms up and back, so you can sheet in and out in the gusts and lulls. This also gives you a little more hiking power keeping your arms closer to your face and promotes better posture which will be more comfortable and better for your back! Your feet shouldn't be hyper exteneded nor should they be straight up, it's a compromise in between.

You should be relatively comfortable aside from the burning in your quads. This is totally normal and depends on your athletic ability, some really great exercises to help with hiking are cycling, rowing and squats.