Laser Rules

Thread starter #1
Today whilst racing in very still conditions, I sat forward of the centre board. I was told by a fellow competitor that it was illegal, but can not find this rule anywhere. Could someone please clarify.:confused:


D10 Secretary
The fellow competitor is wrong.

Part 2, section 7.b
No part of the helmsman or crew may be placed
forward of the mast while racing.


Super Opinionated and Always Correct
As I see it, that is among the rules "so stupid they should be removed from the book."

Why do we ahve the rule??

What does it accomplish?

Even if there is some advantage to be gained by placing some or all of yourself in front of the mast, why would we have a rule prohibiting going there??

I mean....We all have the same places on our boats available to us. Aside from the fact it takes a little bit of coordination to climb in front of the mast, and we know we love rules like 42 that remove physical skills whenever possible so old fat uncoordinated lazy bums can compete, why remove this opportunity for sailors to better sail their boats??

My vote, while the class is being asked to vote on other rule changes, would be to remove this silly rule from our rulebook.

Hell, why not just change the current ballot about the fundamental rule ( again) and include this much more important change?
Drop the rule.

When I sail with my son, it's far more comfortable for him to sit in front of the mast. It's probably not fast, but hey who cares when there's 2 of you onboard you're not likely to win anyway. It would be nice to be able to join club racing without breaking any rules.


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
There are large advantages to sailing in light winds with your weight in front of the mast. Not only reduced waterline length, but more significantly ease of tacking and gybing, whilst significantly enhancing the rolling action.
To take advantage of sailing forward of the mast in light winds you would most likely have to steer with your body weight the entire time. While this is an exception under rule 42, nearly any end result of doing so in such light wind would most likely end in added propulsion, which is not allowed. Keeping the rule as it is would maintain fair sailing more than if it would be removed.


Super Opinionated and Always Correct
My guess is 95% of our sailors couldn't get in front of the mast during a race in any condition without increasing the time it took those sailors to complete a race.

Only very highly skilled laser sailors could possibly sail faster by climbing in front of the mast.

Only highly skilled laser sailors could manage to even make their boats go the right direction while sitting in front of the mast.

Unless I am wrong about this and most of you have skills I ahve never seen anyone demonstrate...

Why would we remove the "climb in front of the mast and make the boat go" move from the available ways we sort out our most skilled competitors from those who are of lesser skill??

Is the intention to have a sailing contest or a dumbed down contest where fat old men can keep up with talented athletes??

Maybe at the Olympics and world championships the SIs could someday need to impose a special rule because the in front of the mast techniques shall have been developed to such a level that no other part of the sailors' skills repertoires contribute to racing outcomes...

but seriously?? I doubt that could ever be the case.

I believe the rule is unnecessary and even a counter productive influence frustrating our effort to maintain our sailing game as the world's premiere sailing contest..
Just curious: Is there a ruling on gripping the mast when you are sitting forward of the centerboard trunk?

I find myself holding the mast to steady myself when I'm sitting forward, but the rule would seem to make that illegal if my fingers are on the front of the mast. :confused:


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Just curious: Is there a ruling on gripping the mast when you are sitting forward of the centerboard trunk?

I find myself holding the mast to steady myself when I'm sitting forward, but the rule would seem to make that illegal if my fingers are on the front of the mast. :confused:
You can hold onto the mast, as long as your fingers or any other part of your body are not in front of the mast.


Super Opinionated and Always Correct
For me to agree the rule says you cannot grab the mast I would have to see "Even to temporarily grip the mast or boom."

I am quite convinced that the sailor who is gripping the mast is doing so with a hand and when doing so the hand is not in front of the mast but around the mast.

If you are going to claim the body part is a finger, it also would not be entirely in front of the mast.

Maybe you would toss a person becuase a fingernail extends in front of the mast for a second or two??

Next thing you know some fool will try to pitch a long haired hottie whose hair occasionally blows past the mast.

No wonder we have so few girls on lasers anymore...
What about in an emergency? surely you are allowed to grab the mast (briefly) to prevent yourself falling in backwards and risking injury or should I be disqualified from most of my races this season (I sail on a river with trees - the wind gets blocked frequently usually when you are fully hiking...)
well, more of on the way back in... As the sail de-powers you have to sit up quick, but with you backside still over the edge there is too much weight out. The easiest way to get inside the boat quickly (I find) is to lean in, grab the mast and pull

Rob B

Well-Known Member
I'm not following this either. I'm 6'2" and to reach the mast I have to be sitting at or slightly in front of the center board. There's no way I can reach it when I'm behind the board w/my feet in the hiking strap. I like the "stretch" guy photo.


Very Senior Member
Truth be known, I bet AlanD or anybody else that knows the rules well could DSQ 75% of any fleet without any problem. Maybe more. It's all up to interpretation and attitude, and if the judge is poor in both categories it will be a miserable regatta.

Somehow I don't think that 99+% of the folks that read this forum will ever be DSQ's for fingers around the mast. We all stand a much higher DSQ possibility when we rock the boat while adjusting our PFDs in light air.


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Truth be known, I do not believe there is anything such thing as a class legal boat, I suspect at most regattas my boat comes the closest to being legal. For example more than a decade all the sleeves inside the Australian made booms were between 1-2mm to long and the only way you could determine this with any degree of accuracy required was to remove the sleeve and measure it and the logos on the hull were larger than what was permitted under the advertising rules (both were always corrected on my boats as were the battens before the boats was launched for the first time). Once you get done to the nitty gritty, no one measures but it's also unlikely they would get an advantage from what we don't check. The idea of measurement is so that everyone has the opportunity to compete on equal terms, if they want to sail with a 10 year old blown out legal sail they can, but they can also sail with a brand new legal sail. If people are looking at gaining an advantage (or disadvantaging others) by breaking or bending the rules then they should be stopped (note also in in Australia we have various safety regulations that must be adhered to which failure of the race committee to enforce increases their liability so such things are also meant to be enforced).

Going back to the mast issue, having your hand on the mast is legal. Having any part of your body forward of the mast isn't. Are the judges going to keep an eye out for someone with their fingers in front probably not, but if you seem to be doing something illegal in order to gain an advantage, you're likely to draw their attention. So you'll likely be OK to fix your wind indicator after it got bumped, but standing having your body as far forward in light winds with your legs straddling the mast would draw their attention.