Rigging Tips by Mark Bulka (Catamarine)
Lasers as we know are pretty much all the same. However there are a few small things we can do to the set up of the boat to make them go faster and a little more user friendly.
1. Traveller rope tension is the first thing I look at on a Laser. For some reason a Laser sails much better upwind with the Traveller block right out at the gunwhale. This is basically achieved by having a lot of tension on the traveller.
This is achieved by ensuring the following:
a) A good traveller rope. Long time sailors will tell you that Kevlar rope at 5 or 6mm is the best for non-stretch. If you can find it; use it. The problem is that it is hard to find in Australia these days. Recent tests show Spectra to be the most low stretch rope currently available. The problem with Spectra however is the casing around the spectra. It has a lot of stretch. It is still OK as long as you break it in over a few weeks. Don’t turn up to an important regatta with a brand new Spectra traveller. If you need a rope to perform well straight away then I would always use a Marlow Pre-Stretch. Would strongly suggest not to use anything else.
b) Tying the traveller rope so that the triangle is as small as possible is the next key. By doing this you will gain extra leverage and thus more tension on the traveller. When tying the traveller put a bowline in one end then feed the other end through the loop of the bowline and pull very tight. Then tie a half hitch and pass through the cleat. When doing this make sure the tiller is not in position, and the small traveller block is lying flat. If you have any problems ask me the next time you see me.
c) Flat Carbon Tillers; you don’t have to have one, though if you want that last bit of tension out of the traveller, a tiller which sits low to the rear deck will allow you to achieve this. A carbon tiller will also make tacking with a lot of tension on the traveller easier. It will allow the small traveller block to cross sides easier. In light airs it will still stick and a gentle lean of the shoulder against the boom as you go through the tack is often needed.
Rope length is 3 to 3.5 metres depending on the type of handle you tie.
2. Make sure the tillar does not hit the traveller cleat. I notice this a lot on older boats. Its is very nonuser friendly if it hits the cleat as you sail. If you are filiing down a carbon tiller to get it lower to the rear deck make sure you allow an inch clearance above the traveller cleat. If you pull on the traveller hard that inch will quickly disappear. If your round tiller is hitting the cleat you can
a) Look for movement in the wedge.
b) Look for wear in the plastic gudgeon
c) Put a washer or two on the pintles to raise the resting point of the rudder box.
3) The Turbo Kit has made sailing the Laser a lot easier. So trying to race without one will certainly mean missing a gear change or two. The problem that I have encountered with the Turbo Kit is the Centreboard shockcord gets caught over the vang. In NSW last year I noticed the shockcord clipped to a small piece of rope tied to the stainless steel plate at the bottom of the mast. Using this system ensures one less tangle. For this to work properly you need the shockcord to be fairly thick and tight. It is also important to make sure the centreboard wedge is pushed forward to ensure pressure on the back of the centreboard. These will all help stop the centreboard slipping down, down wind and lifting up when you don’t want it to upwind.
4) The current outhaul system is a little sluggish. The first thing I do is replace the outhaul tie down rope with a piece of spectra core. This core will slide a lot easier than a standard piece of rope. If the wind is light tie a bit of shockcord from the old outhaul cleat through the clew and back to the cleat. This will help the sail slide in when you want to add some depth. The current rules allow you to play with the outhaul system quite a bit. Although I keep it fairly standard, the best system I have seen is the one used by Tim Derham and the Sailmaster group. Worth a good look.
5)Wind indicator on the front of the mast. Sailing without one is to me like sailing blind. Certainly we can all sail without one, though downwind it is great to know how far by the lee we are sailing, or how far up are we reaching. It just gives you such a great reference point. Upwind it is useful on those light shifty days when the feel goes out of the boat, or on Albert Park Lake in all conditions. I keep in stock the Little Hawk and have used them for years.
6) Always remember a little bit of tape or shockcord over the vang key on the boom. Stops the vang from coming out at the most unwanted time.
7) Make sure you have tell tails on the sail.
8) Make sure you have Deck cleats. You may not use them often, though when you do they are very helpful.
If you have any questions, give me a call.