Rigging 101... outhaul?

Thread starter #1
Hi -

Got a basic question on rigging an outhaul from a novice recreational sailor. I have my in-laws Laser from probably the late '70's and have enjoyed sailing it at a lake in NorCal, purely recreational with no desire to race. I'm a decent sailor but know little about the subtleties of how to rig the boat and really don't want to learn much... I'm happy to just have it set in a "close enough" condition. Apologies in advance for using the wrong words for much that follows...

I'm looking for advice on how to rig my outhaul. As is, there's simply a pulley that's tied to the "U" shaped anchor at the end of the boom. There's a short rope that's tied to the clew, I've been running this thru the pulley and then to a cleat that's mounted about 18" in from the end of the boom. See photo. boom.JPG

There are at least a couple of problems with this. First, I now understand that the clew should be held very close to the boom rather than be free to extend out. I see that I can fix this by buying a clew strap. Second, I've had problems with the rope pulling out of the cleat and thus releasing the sail (with predictably unpleasant results). This makes sense as due to the single pulley the full force of the sail goes thru the short rope and it's cleat.

I've looked on line and see a lot of information about how the outhaul can be rigged to allow the sailor to adjust it while sailing. As noted above, I'd be happy without this. Any recommendations about how I can alter the rigging to meet my needs? Thanks!


Just sailing
Eeww, that's kind of a messy setup. If I understand it correctly, you don't have any purchase.

A more typical setup is to attach the block to the clew of the sail with a D-shackle. Tie the end of the outhaul to the fairlead (the U-shaped anchor), run it through the clew block, then feed it again through the fairlead. You can cleat it at the same spot, and it will now have half the force. A dyneema line will slide through the fairlead easier, and additional purchase can be added. However, it sounds like you aren't interested in this extra sort of adjustment.

I'll see if I can find some pictures.

A couple of other things. The cleat could be worn, so try replacing it. Also, find a line that the cleat will bite into.
Thread starter #3
Thanks Torrid... I think "purchase" means leverage, right? If so that's correct, the line just goes thru the block directly to the cleat and thus has a lot of force on it. I follow what you mean about re-routing the line, and that would halve the force on the block. I assume I can get a D-shackle at West Marine. I had replaced both the cleat and the outhaul line to try to solve the problem so both are in good shape. I suspect this would solve the problem, thanks.

Am I correct that I should also get a clew strap?


Active Member
"Purchase" in mechanical systems means "buying" force with distance. So for instance, if the purchase ratio is 2:1, you pull twice the distance but need only half the force. A typical Laser these days has a 6:1 cunningham and outhaul and a 15:1 vang.

For purely recreational purposes, you don't need to adjust the outhaul much at all on the water, and the simplest system is easily the best. Forget the block in the picture (with its swivel, it looks like a mainsheet block from the days before a ratchet block was standard equipment) and rig a 2:1 like torrid described but with simply passing the line through the clew eye.

The clew should be tied down as close as possible to the boom but you don't need a strap for that. A piece of 4 mm rope (3 mm is good if it's made of high-tech fibre, such as Dyneema) wrapped twice around the boom and through the clew eye is good enough.
Tie a stopper knot in the outhaul line such that it will prevent the line from freely running all the way out if it comes uncleated. Possibly mark the line with a sharpie to show where you need that knot (for max slack you ever want) if you are untying it each time you put the boat away.

Stopper Knot - How to tie a Stopper Knot
For one version of stopper knot