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Tiller Extension

Jonno Snell

New Member
Hi all, has anyone got any tips how to get a newby to use a tiller extension.
When I tack I let go of the tiller, not really keen on this but using the tiller extension has me going in all directions, zig zagging all over the bay lol. Hands get tangled too and has added something more for me to think about.... not tipping up, getting a nice tack, dodging mates, sail shape, and untangling myself lol. All fun but.....!
I know its probably practice practice practice, but any tips on technique would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.


Well-Known Member
Hi Jonno,

Glad to hear your Laser sailing is going well. Ah yes... what to do with the tiller when tacking. I had the same problems. Until I watched what this racer was doing in the video below. Here's the order.

- As you tack, push the tiller away from you as you move across to the other side with the main sheet in your other hand.
- As you turn your body to face the new direction, don't let go of the tiller and let your arm go behind your back with it.
- When the boat is facing the right direction, correct with the tiller. You'll now be sailing straight again with your arm WAY behind your back and with the main sheet still in the same hand.
- You're now going to reach for the tiller with your hand that has the main sheet in it. As you do this, let the main sheet slide through your hand so you can reach the tiller. Better yet, make sure you have a bit of slack in the mainsheet just as you begin the tack the next time so you can reach the tiller.
- For a moment you'll now have the main sheet and the tiller in the same hand... your rear hand. But you can now let go of the tiller with the hand that is behind your back.
- Take the hand that was behind your back that is now free and grab the main sheet. You'll now be sailing in the correct position again.

This may seem like kind of a crazy way to do it but after watching countless videos of experienced sailors doing this hand switch the exact same way, I decided I'd try it. And it really is the best way. It just takes some practice.

I found that practicing it while I was standing in my living room, or going from sitting in one chair to another chair really helped. Before long I was able to do it on the water without thinking about it.

Here's the video. He starts his first tack at about 2 minutes, 50 seconds in the video.


- Andy
Great video, I learn more everytime I view this video, my question is why does the sailor change his weight for and aft. I dont see a change in the wave pattern that would be my simple explanation.


I had the same trouble (still do when hurried/flustered) but I watched and watched and tried and tried. What helped the most was dry land practice. I did it first in an unrigged, beached Sunfish, since its more robust to abuse. That kept the variables to a minimum and reduced the chances of crash and splash. And lets you quickly overcome the intuition that this is too awkward for mere mortals to do. I will often delay the hand switch now to practice behind-the-back steerage and increase the comfort level.

And welcome aboard!

Jonno Snell

New Member
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate your time to answer and help us out.
Every time I hit the water I'm sailing smoother and smoother which increases my enjoyment, keeping me on the water longer each time. Always room for improvement tho.
Thanks again.


I found this video by Shirley Robertson was the most helpful when I was learning. She also breaks it down in steps and shows you in slow motion. I practiced the steps over and over in my boat when it was still strapped to my trailer.


New Member
Hi Jonno,
Just an addendum to the expert advice already posted: don't shorten the tiller extension even if tempted in the beginning.