Knowing the rig of a club's Laser without looking at the sail


New Member
Hi all, this forum is amazing. I have been reading it for months to try to teach myself to sail a Laser.

I'm in a weird situation. I'm spanish, I live in France, but I don't speak the language. I managed to sign up in the local club only to find out that they have a zillion catamarans for 2-3 people but a single poor old Laser.

The point is that it seems that catamarans are more popular here. But... one day I took a Laser and I capsized like... 7 times at least and I thought "this is not for me, I'm too old, big, fat..." (I'm 37, 185 cm (6 ft I think?) and 87 kgs (187 pounds?) and I have done sport for my entire life).

Fast forward 2 years and I'm trying again with sailing, with catamarans, and I'm not enjoying it much. I ask my instructor, in very broken french, if there's an alternative for singlehanded sailing in the club, and he pointed to my biggest fear, the poor old Laser in some dark corner.... So I tried again... and here is where the problem comes: I had a blast!

I hit my head twice, but I didn't capsized. Since then I have gone to sail it around 30 times, capsized maybe a zillion of times (lol I'm even looking forward for it when it's really hot). But I'm alone, the people in the club are all about catamarans and I have no one to ask for tips in a language that I can understand. Don't get me wrong, the problem is mine, the people on the club are amazing.

I have many questions but there are a couple that I'm struggling to find an answer:

- How to know the rig that a Laser is using without looking at the sail? The sail is totally custom, provided by the French Federation, and the seams are different. It doesn't even have a window. In the club they told me once that it's a standard. But I don't need to hike when wind is under 10 knots and I don't know if that's normal with a Standard sail with my weight.

- Roll tack: How the heck do you learn to do this? I have watched a zillion of Youtube videos and I understand the concept but... I don't know, it's like the physics is this area are different, lol. Is there a drill? Like "try this first, then this, now both together"?

Apart from that, as a newcomer to this sailing world, there's a lot to swallow. Like the issue between LP and ILCA, from the outside it looks super weird. I also found some books very useful and I'm still reading most of them. Youtube and this forum is super helpful too.

And I thought speakers of Romance languages all understood one another :confused: :D

The sail that the boat you're sailing has is probably a fairly close copy of the Standard. The different sail sizes are best thought as different weight classes for racing, so as long as you're sailing just recreationally, you shouldn't really worry about them.

Proper roll tacking is quite a skill! You've seen the videos, so you know what it should look like... you might want to start by testing ho much you can heel the boat to windward without falling off the boat :D

Nobody can understand french people... even when they speak :D

I asked my wife to do a picture today. I hid the sail number because I don´t know if I should show it :confused:

I'm not thinking in competitions but I like to "train like if I were to compite" if that makes any sense. So I hike, and I hike hard and I feel underpowered sometimes but the wind is rarely over 15 knots with gusts of 20 knots, something that I usually handle without problem (but I freak out when gybing to be honest).

Proper roll tacking is quite a skill!
Oh, you really make me feel better. Actually I have tested a lot of times heeling to windward too much AND falling off the boat :D That's where it comes my sail size question in fact. Maybe I have fallen to windward like 70% of the times when I was beginning. But it makes a lot of sense to try to just heel and get the feeling of how much the boat can handle, because I tend to "correct" heeling ASAP so, when I try to roll tack, I usually switch sides too soon.

Today I look into the plaque and it's 1993's Laser, having a new romance with me at her age :)


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Buy a Harken kicker and a MK2 sail for your own. Maybe a stiff mainsail sheet. Then you start working. It's like riding a bike. If you loose focus, you fail. It's an "all-in" boat. And the reward is much .
Nobody can understand french people... even when they speak :D
I agree that the phonology is quite, well, peculiar :D As a native speaker of Finnish, to me Spanish, Italian, Catalan sound infinitely more comprehensible...

I hid the sail number because I don´t know if I should show it :confused:
No need to hide. A very short number like that most likely has no meaning outside that original sailing school.

That mast looks like a Standard mast, but the sail could be anything that only has roughly the same luff and foot lengths. It's definitely a bit smaller than a Standard as it has no battens! For those reasons no tuning guides will probably work very well with that sail. You might consider using a real sail of your own (as Helge suggested) if that's ok with the club.

It looks like the boat has a cascading vang and a deck-led outhaul, so someone has already "modernized" it at some point. But what's that big black thing on the mast between the boom and the deck? ( :eek: More pictures please!)

I tend to "correct" heeling ASAP so, when I try to roll tack, I usually switch sides too soon.
THIS is the cause of the vast majority of bad roll tacks :oops:

Today I look into the plaque and it's 1993's Laser, having a new romance with me at her age :)
Oh, that's a new boat :D Mine is a 1990...

By the way, I located your sailing waters from that picture :D What a cool place!

The identifying thing is that the 4.7 rig nowadays called ILCA 4 is super low sail with bent bottom section and sail itself looks very short when fitted to the boom, the radial sail, nowadays ILCA 6 is having radial cut with blue corners at the head, tack and clew, the difference between ILCA sails and old type laser sails is that the blue parts can be seen only on starboard on laser sails and on ILCA edition the blue is on both sides. Moving on to standard rig or full rig, can be called in both ways, we have the MK1 rig that has the same stitches with 4.7 rig and MK1 rig was only made under laser trademark, the next edition, called MK2, also called ILCA 7 was produced under both trademarks, laser and ILCA, it has the new design of window with nylon strings inside that add strength to the window, also the MK2 has new cut and new type of stitches, called bi-radial cut and also the battens are thinner and much more flexible than the classic battens and pockets for battens are having velcro straps so they stay secure in. Good luck on further identifying!
PS back in a day when the war LP vs ILCA began, PS Australia was working on brand new rig called C-Rig but nowadays it’s forgotten and it never went to mass production.