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Laser newbie - standard or full rig?

DonS

Member
Hi all. I just purchased a used Laser (standard rig) and have never sailed a Laser before (only fixed keel or centerboard dinghys). The question I have is during my 'breaking in' period is there any reason to upgrade my vang and cunningham hardware before I even start sailing? With the standard setup am I going to suffer while I am getting used to the boat, pick up bad habits, or will the whole process be so new that it won't hurt to learn 'old school' and upgrade later? Very curious to hear some opinions.
Don
 

CaptainAhab

Active Member
None of it really matters unless you are going to race and care about your results. For the most part when you are learning you are going to set the controls and forget about them. You will be learning the agility and balance to properly handle the boat through the tacks and gybes. There are no bad habits. Once you get the new vang and outhaul you can start playing with those. In the meantime the outhaul doesn't need to be touched. The vang can be eased down wind and the lack of purchase can be overcome by sheeting in the main and then tightening the vang when going upwind. You will not be making the minor changes. Its more like on or off. Likewise the downhaul is usually on or off. Just start sailing and don't worry about the new gear. They were sailed that way for 30 years. Buy the new stuff when you can.
 

tonyquoll

Member
The flipside is that the modern controls are so much easier to adjust, which removes an unnecessary, frustrating element from learning to sail.
The old v-jam 3:1 vang/kicker is virtually impossible to get tight enough, which makes going upwind slower and more difficult than it needs to be.
The old clam-cleat on the boom is virtually impossible to adjust as well, so you miss out on setting a full sail and hitting top speed offwind. Old ones tend to let go, and with it loose you cannot make progress upwind. Trying to get it tight again means steering head-to-wind, trying to grab it and yank it while the sail flaps around,& the boom beats you, probably while the boat simultaneously capsizes on top of you. Not fun.
So, the modern controls make it easier and more fun to sail. Sure, you'll still need to learn what settings to use for them to have any effect, and basic hiking, steering, sheeting; boat handling techniques will be the biggest thing to learn and have biggest impact on results in your first season (or decade).
On getting the upgrades, I went for 2nd hand gear, piece by piece, as my budget allowed. In hindsight this has cost more and been more frustrating, so if you can afford the complete kit, go for it.
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
The flipside is that the modern controls are so much easier to adjust, which removes an unnecessary, frustrating element from learning to sail.
The old v-jam 3:1 vang/kicker is virtually impossible to get tight enough, which makes going upwind slower and more difficult than it needs to be.
The old clam-cleat on the boom is virtually impossible to adjust as well, so you miss out on setting a full sail and hitting top speed offwind. Old ones tend to let go, and with it loose you cannot make progress upwind. Trying to get it tight again means steering head-to-wind, trying to grab it and yank it while the sail flaps around,& the boom beats you, probably while the boat simultaneously capsizes on top of you. Not fun.
So, the modern controls make it easier and more fun to sail. Sure, you'll still need to learn what settings to use for them to have any effect, and basic hiking, steering, sheeting; boat handling techniques will be the biggest thing to learn and have biggest impact on results in your first season (or decade).
On getting the upgrades, I went for 2nd hand gear, piece by piece, as my budget allowed. In hindsight this has cost more and been more frustrating, so if you can afford the complete kit, go for it.
The old style vang was easy to adjust as long as you had the right technique, even when we sailed at 3:1, it became even easier when we set it up as a 8:1. Ditto with the outhaul system. If you're running the old systems, read the books from late in the era such as Glen Bourke's and all will be revealed. People like Blackburn stayed with the old vang systems for a long time after their introduction of the new vang and I'm actually not sure if he ever changed.
 

DonS

Member
I appreciate the responses. After careful consideration I've decided to take a 'middle of the road' approach. I found some online documentation on doing a modest upgrade. I had a few extra blocks left over from my catalina so I for about 70$ I'll can upgrade my Vang=>8:1, Outhaul=> 4:1 and Cunningham=> 8:1. These mods are (supposed) to be class legal so this should get me going until I decide if the Laser is right for me (or rather am I right for the Laser). If it is, then I'll go ahead and shell out for the full upgrade kits.Untitled2.jpg . Untitled1.jpg
 

Bungo Pete

Member
I am what might be described as a "recreational racer" and the two things I did that made the most sense in terms of cost benefit was the cuningham/outhaul upgrade and going to the 8:1 vang and cunningham setups shown above. Getting the controls down to the foredeck made rigging easier and as I learned what adjustments to make, they were right there in front of me. I don't know exactly what I have for purchase on my outhaul, but it works for me. HTH
 

PommeDeTerre

Drifting too far from the shore
Glad to see a thread like this.

My newly acquired 1980 boat is stock, so when I watched some videos on rigging, and noticed that all of them were from people rigging it for racing/training, etc.., it was pretty confusing. (As a newbie, I have plenty to think about without worrying about extra control lines!)
 

DonS

Member
Well, after sailing for a couple of months I have concluded the 8:1 Vang setup will not allow me to go block to block - while under sail. I am 5-11", 190 lbs and in reasonably good shape - but I just can't. So I switched over to the 15:1 configuration (diy again) and am now able achieve Vang On - block to block with reasonable ease. Fortunately, I had 2 of the 3 blocks necessary to do this and only had to spend about 35$USD to get it working. So far I REALLY like sailing this boat and at some point I'll shell out the funds to get a Harken setup, but for now I am more than satisfied.
 

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Sorry but I remember the days of the old style kicker & it wasn't fun, yes you could bounce your weight on the boom after rounding the mark but by the time you rounded the top mark there was that much pressure on the rope you could hardly get it to free off again, the outhaul was on or off, the cunningham you needed arms like popeye to pull it on in a breeze.
Its so much easyer now for kids to control the sail shape and learn more about what the control actually dose.
 

Jinggjong

laser racing to the max
i am in the same boat(sorry for the pun) . I just bought a stock 1985 laser with original everything. I would like to race , but I do not have the money to buy the proper upgrades. would anyone have any suggestions on what I could upgrade DIY.
 

Voodoo 158546

Hard hiking at the end of a 3hr race, killer
Looking at this from a novice perspective -
the kicker, while it can be a struggle initially for some, is still adjustable on the fly...that is you are still under power and in control while you're bullying it to where you want it... ( feet against cockpit wall and with straight arms/ straight back, push the boat away from you using your legs while holding the kicker )
The outhaul, well you basically stop sailing ( balance & trim, sail setting & speed all suffer ) while you bully the outhaul either way, in or out.
My advice would be to sort that out first, given the amount of times you adjust sail shape during any sailing session be it jollies or race training.
Cheap and the easier adjustments will make your sail more enjoyable and more interesting as the sail shape range is literally at your fingertips....I think you'll benefit more from the outhaul than kicker at this stage...
Again, from the novices p.o.v.
 

Voodoo 158546

Hard hiking at the end of a 3hr race, killer
Down onto the deck for sure if you can.
Bit of advice...keep things uncomplicated, straightforward & simple = reliable
ie; don't put three turns round this & an extra block on that if a simple bowline knot would do
 

torrid

Just sailing
Thank you for that. Should I move the control to the deck or leave them where they are?
Those control line pictures you posted are pretty good for someone on a budget. However, I would still invest in getting the deckmount mounting plates and cleats. By them individually, not as part of an upgrade kit.
 

Jinggjong

laser racing to the max
could one of you post a pic or diagram on how to rig the outhaul ? that would be very appreciated
 

DonS

Member
All, here is another update on my 'budget' upgrades to my '82 hull since buying it last August. The picture shows all the upgrades I made (with approximate prices). First of all, I am still really pleased with how everything is working. The only exception is the Vang. Since I upgraded the purchase on the original Holt vang the only issue I have is that if I forget to release the Vang prior to rounding the windward mark it is fairly difficult to release it after my boom is out on a reach. But, it just gives me more incentive to remember to do it before.

I still use the original sail (old red numbers, stains 'n all). Since I sail/race recreationally I don't care at this point. I'd like to think if I do sail faster than someone with a newer boat and fresher sails then that just means I'm really getting better.

I thoroughly enjoy this little boat just as it is and if in another year or so I decide to buy another rig that has all the store bought hardware then I an easily sell this one for just about what I've put into it.

(Jinggjong - in my earlier post above it shows the diy rigging for the outhaul - this is what I followed. If you want an actual photograph let me know and I'll take one next time I go out)

Thank for everyone's input. This site has been very helpful.
...one more thing, I splurged on a Ritchie tactical Compass...no, I don't really know how to use it yet - It just makes me "look" like I know what I am doing ;)
 

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habitants24

New Member
Well, after sailing for a couple of months I have concluded the 8:1 Vang setup will not allow me to go block to block - while under sail. I am 5-11", 190 lbs and in reasonably good shape - but I just can't. So I switched over to the 15:1 configuration (diy again) and am now able achieve Vang On - block to block with reasonable ease. Fortunately, I had 2 of the 3 blocks necessary to do this and only had to spend about 35$USD to get it working. So far I REALLY like sailing this boat and at some point I'll shell out the funds to get a Harken setup, but for now I am more than satisfied.
Thank you. This is very helpful.
 

Chatham Sailor

New Member
I spent a lot of years using original gear or doing knot thimbles and such, And I can say that one major advantage of upgrading these controls (to whatever level you choose) is that you will actually adjust them more often while sailing and thus internalize their impacts with feedback.
When I was doing set-and-forget on the beach, I was not really improving my sailing because it was part of a whole pattern of not really understanding how the sail worked and thus not really caring (or understanding only in theory but not in practice).
It’s not just about racing vs recreational. It’s more about being in better control of the boat, sailing well, and enjoying the upward process. If that’s something you aim to do, regardless of any plans to race, then some affordable upgrades will probably change your whole outlook on the boat for the better and accelerate your learning. Probably have more fun too.
 

habitants24

New Member
I spent a lot of years using original gear or doing knot thimbles and such, And I can say that one major advantage of upgrading these controls (to whatever level you choose) is that you will actually adjust them more often while sailing and thus internalize their impacts with feedback.
When I was doing set-and-forget on the beach, I was not really improving my sailing because it was part of a whole pattern of not really understanding how the sail worked and thus not really caring (or understanding only in theory but not in practice).
It’s not just about racing vs recreational. It’s more about being in better control of the boat, sailing well, and enjoying the upward process. If that’s something you aim to do, regardless of any plans to race, then some affordable upgrades will probably change your whole outlook on the boat for the better and accelerate your learning. Probably have more fun too.
Yes, I agree that upgrading will result in learning how to be a better Laser sailor. However, instead of spending a lot of money for a vang and outhaul upgrade, I'm going with these 1990s solutions: Laser Rigging OldStyle.pdf
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
instead of spending a lot of money for a vang and outhaul upgrade, I'm going with these 1990s solutions: Laser Rigging OldStyle.pdf
Oh my, what a gallery of "stupid rope tricks" :eek: as they were called back in the day...

The only reason the systems used to be rigged like that? The pre-2001 class rules didn't allow for anything better. Now it makes zero sense to abide by something that doesn't exist anymore. Trying to use only one length of rope per system and tying crazy knots into it makes things harder, not easier (not very "recreational" at all really). It's not a huge investment to make the systems simple and sensible, and I'll give a few suggestions while breaking down the linked document.

Outhaul: it's good to bring the outhaul line to the mast for easy access, but using the whole spar as a "block" makes little sense anymore.
The purchase in this "1980s" system is around 8:1, depending on the pulling direction. It's a little more than you really need, but ok.
Having a turning point at 3 is a waste of rope: the loop could be much farther forward, up to the two loops (nearly) meeting at max outhaul tension. The knot at 5 is enough of a stopper, but you could tie a figure-eight at 3 if you want.
Sensible solution: there really has ben no development of the boom-cleated outhaul since 2001; the simplest thing may be to copy the "traditional" system and add single blocks to points 3 and 4, and with a separate piece of line, to the mast. Use 4 mm line throughout. The line can be two separate lengths.
Extra tip: you can tie an elastic inhaul. You can attach it pretty much anywhere.

Cunningham: an 8:1 with rope loops looks rough... I don't remember anyone doing this at the time. A 6:1 was the standard and had enough friction even with the allowed thimbles...
Sensible solution: replace the damn rope loops at 2 and 3 with blocks. For a 6:1, attach a single block with a becket at 2, and a single block at 3. For an 8:1, a double block at 2, and a single block with becket at 3. Tie the lower block with a separate line around the mast below the vang tang. Use 4 or 5 mm line for the cleating part, and if you want, a separate thinner but strong llne (read: Dyneema) between points 3 and 2.
Note: tie a mast retention line between the cunningham fairlead and the mast above the vang tang (or the gooseneck).

Vang: I remember testing a 12:1 on my training partner's boat around 2000, and deciding against it because the second rope loop added too much friction (you were not allowed to reinforce the loops in the vang!). You had to use very slippery and soft line, which didn't work well with the cleat. An 8:1 with two loops (like the one pictured) has made no sense at any point in time.
Sensible solution: rig a 12:1 like in the first diagram, but add single blocks with becket at points 2 and 5. Use stiff 5 or 6 mm rope for the cleating part (from the becket at 5, through 6 to 9), and preferably a separate thinner but strong line for the rest. You can have a separate line between 1 and 2.
Important: if you're updating a very old boat, add a swivel between the cleat block and the tang! (And do not attach the cleat block to the boom.)
One more tip: tie the vang tail to the centreboard. It should be long enough so you can keep it attached while putting the board in and taking it out.

Hope this makes life easier :rolleyes:

_
 
We would be VERY surprised if someone splurged on a nice new vang, put some great line/blocks on it, and then regretted the decision after sailing with it for a season. Particularly if you're sailing once a week or even more. If so, just buy it. Sometimes the pros trade out lower vang unit's because the built in pulleys get a little worn and the friction increases a bit - maybe you could find a used one if finances didn't allow purchase of new.
 
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