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Asking advice on Laser upgrade

Chatham Sailor

New Member
Hi, I have a 2005 Laser that I beach sail in cape cod (about 20 times per summer for the past 10 years). It has all the original equipment, including the sail and spars (all in pretty good shape, though the spars showing some corrosion in places e.g. gooseneck).
I don't race it, and don't have immediate plans to, but recently took some lessons and might like to race it eventually.
Recently I've felt that not having a more responsive vang/cunningham system is holding me back from controlling the boat well, especially on windy days. I basically have to set it up for the conditions at launch as best I can and hope those hold up.
Also, the sail feels "baggy" around the luff and the top third is hardly doing anything it seems.
Question is: what is my next move? Should I just replace the MK1 sail? Replace the sail and get a vang etc system? Go to a Mk2? get a carbon topmast as well? Consider something like an ARC instead? Willing to invest in the boat but I want to make the right decision, not have re-do it all over again in another year and waste money in the process.
Any advice appreciated, thanks!
(oh, I'm 6'2" 185, if that's important).
 

Chatham Sailor

New Member
The "systems" are just line, with some purchase added with bowlines. e.g. a 6:1 on the cunningham and an 8:1 on the kicker.
I realize my original post may be an eyeroll-y question for many of you who have sweet setups, but just looking for whatever thoughts you have. Again, i am not a racer but trying to enjoy the boat as much as possible and hopefully get more out of it and get more skillful.
 

ProATC

Member
I would say upgrade the sail to a Mk2, upgrade the vang etc system and go play around with the newer equipment. I don't think they are that expensive of an upgrade, and you will be in a positive mindset (new parts and sails are always a positive thing mentally) and conversely sailing faster. From there, you will almost certainly want to start racing to at least see where you stack up, even if it is only a one off beer can race. Personally, I would not invest in a carbon topmast at this point.
 

Riv

Member
For me the biggest and most important conventional upgrade was a replica vang system. It's a safety thing as well as a performance mod, being able to release the vang in any conditions take the power out of the sail. All our club boats now have them.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
The "systems" are just line, with some purchase added with bowlines. e.g. a 6:1 on the cunningham and an 8:1 on the kicker.
Ok, sounds like what we all had in 2001 :D (A bit strange that a 2005 boat was still equipped with the "vintage" systems actually.) You can start off with adding a single block (such as a Harken Micro) to each of the bowlines and see what that does. Spending many hundreds of your favourite currency isn't what I'd do first, unless there already is a racing schedule drawn up.

About the other things you asked:
  • Getting a new MkI sail makes no sense.
  • If your current sail is worn, get a new (or little-used) MkII if/when you start racing.
  • Forget about a carbon topmast if there's nothing wrong with your current one.
  • Getting any non-class equipment makes little sense. That includes not only complete fancy rigs, but also "replica" or "training" parts.
  • You're the absolute perfect size for the Standard rig!
How's your tiller and extension (lengths and materials)? Outhaul and traveller systems? I still think you should post some pictures :rolleyes:

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Chatham Sailor

New Member
yeah, tiller and extension are just aluminum, like a gorilla and a ronstan, 39 and 32" respectively. The extension is shorter than I'd like and I'll eventually change (not sure what length), but haven't felt that the length (or not being carbon) was the thing holding me back so far. i don't even have a deck cleat.
I will get on the pics if that would help...sorry,I'm not near boat.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
A Gorilla tiller is fine. The extension however IS holding you back as it should be at least 30 % longer (unless "32" was a typo)! 107 cm (42 in) is the shortest standard length that you can get away with; mine is 120 which i find perfect, but many go all the way to 130 (you can't comfortably tack a longer one).

Sheet cleats are nice but not absolutely necessary, and only about half of the top racers have them. You just have to learn to hold the sheet in your steering hand while making adjustments with the other.

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Chatham Sailor

New Member
Thanks, that tiller size info is helpful.
Not a typo...I bought the boat 1 yr used from a sailing school in '06, which perhaps explains the "vintage" control systems and the 32" extension (which I later replaced with same size, not knowing better). Seemed ok back then, though now, obv when sitting forward it makes my steering arm go back a bit and I know is clearly not optimal for lots of reasons.

I was actually referring to the cleats for downhaul and outhaul....

Sounds like getting a vang system and an OH/DH system are a good place to start (plus tiller). and a sail....
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
I was actually referring to the cleats for downhaul and outhaul...
Ok. Well, you have the cunningham Clamcleat there, and for recreational-only sailing, the outhaul doesn't need to be led to the deck. At this stage, you simply don't need to adjust it very often.

Sounds like getting a vang system and an OH/DH system are a good place to start (plus tiller). and a sail...
Just repeating: the only thing on your boat (that has come up so far) which needs immediate upgrading is the tiller extension, because that's something that directly affects how you sail the boat. You can get away with fairly clunky control systems as long as their range of adjustment is adequate. And the condition of your sail doesn't matter much until you start racing.

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Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
I second the vang upgrade based on my experience:
A few years ago I rented a Laser with a classic vang at a vacation place and although I could tighten the vang, it was very hard to loosen it. Of course we want a tight vang going upwind in a breeze, but downwind, a tight vang can easily lead to a capsize because the boom end can catch the water. This may well result in a magnificent death roll.
A new MkII sail (or replica sail) would be nice, but for the kind of sailing that you have been doing, not required. For racing, YES, as LaLi already pointed out.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
A few years ago I rented a Laser with a classic vang at a vacation place and although I could tighten the vang, it was very hard to loosen it.
I have occasionally sailed Lasers with the "old" Allen vang cleat block in later years, and I've thought they worked quite nicely :D
I guess that by 2001 I had pretty much learned the moves to use it, and it still doesn't feel like too much trouble.
However... the one time I borrowed an ancient boat that had the cleat block attached with :eek: no swivel was quite an eye opener. That was absolutely impossible to adjust unless you were head to wind (or on shore).

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Riv

Member
Yeah, I second that, cheap RWO ones are good. Add a tiny bit of waterproof grease on the rotating surfaces.
 
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