Laser Foils (& Tiller)


Sanding and Finishing

A new centreboard may hum when you go fast offwind with the board up. 'Finishing' the trailing edge may reduce or eliminate this. You are allowed to do two things:

  1. You can undertake 'surface refinishing', which basically means lightly sanding it with wet-and-dry: at least 400 grade, preferably finer (higher).

    A word of warning: If you're fortunate enough get to a World Championship and have chartered a 'new' boat, do not be tempted to wet & dry the foils even slightly. You are likely to lose your deposit; the organizers want the foils back 'as new', and that means what it says. Remember that brand new (white) foils are slippery to grasp when you capsize. What do you mean, you never capsize?

  2. You can sand down (as opposed to re-finishing) the trailing-edge of the centreboard up to 100mm forward of the trailing-edge, but don't overdo it. A thin squared-off trailing-edge is more effective at reducing vortices than a sharp edge.

(I have not yet examined one of the new glass-fibre boards in detail to see what remedial action may be necessary, advisable or possible.)

Centreboard Bungee

The centreboard elastic can be led from the bow-eye back through the mast-retaining line, but you are not allowed to create a loop in the mast-retaining line in order to lead the centreboard bungee through it. You can, however, take advantage of the way the mast-retaining line is rigged.

You are not allowed to attach a shackle or clip to the cunningham 'Builder-supplied' deck-fitting and lead the centreboard elastic through it.

Attaching the ends of your cunningham or vang control lines to the centreboard elastic is not permitted. You can, however, tie the control-line ends to the rope loop for the centreboard line, to the centreboard handle, or to the centreboard itself.

Centreboard Stopper

The centreboard stopper is compulsory. Without it your board can go lower, increasing its effective in-water length: an advantage upwind. The Laser stopper is fragile plastic, and can come undone. It can even shatter if you slam down the board at the leeward mark: not clever. You are now allowed to fasten the stopper together by glue, screws, bolts, nuts and washers, but you are not allowed to substitute the fitting itself. There is nothing to stop you carrying a spare, though fixing a new one on the water is tricky. Europa Cup SIs for this year (2009) are allowing non-compliance with this rule to be penalised with an additional ten points instead of a DSQ.


Sanding and Finishing

The advice for sanding the centreboard applies to the rudder-blade, except that the maximum sanding distance from the trailing edge is only 60mm.

The Angle of the Dangle

This is one of the most likely parts of your Laser to be checked at a Championship. Basically, if you were allowed to have your rudder pointing straight down it would reduce the sensation of weather-helm*, which in windy conditions would make it less tiring for your tiller-arm upwind. This is why the maximum angle between the bottom edge of the rudder-stock and the leading edge of the rudder-blade is 78°. (If the angle is less than 78°, you get more weather helm; you are allowed to file away the rudder-blade where it meets the spacing-pin in the stock in order to bring the angle up to 78°.) If the angle of dangle is more than 78° you can reduce it by wrapping electrical tape round the spacing-pin. (Don't be tempted to remove the tape after measurement: measurers keep a record of boats that pass only with tape, and are quite likely to check you later in the week.)

*Note that I say 'the sensation of weather-helm', because the weather-helm would still be there: it woud just take much less effort to use the tiller to counteract it. The boat would still want to screw up into wind because what we call 'weather-helm' is the imbalance between the centre of effort (CE) through the rig and the so-called 'centre of lateral resistance' (CLR). Dinghies are designed so that when they are upright there is almost no 'helm' either way: a Laser sailed plumb upright will have very little weather helm. but this becomes more difficult in stronger winds. The difference between good strong-wind sailors and the rest is that the fast ones sail upwind with the mast almost vertical. Slow big-wind sailors try to counter the weather helm (produced by sailing heeled to leeward) by applying more rudder instead of steering to keep the boat upright; that is what makes them slow, whether they are 70kg or 85kg.


You don't have to use a retaining pin, but if you do, you are not allowed to drill a new hole in the top of the stock to compensate for increasing slop in the fit with use. Use an effective means of anchoring the tiller in the rudder-head (see below), augmented by an effective downhaul.

The tiller must be capable of being removed from the rudder-head. It doesn't have to be loose, but if you do knock it in, as I do, by tapping the other end of the tiller against the ground, the measurer must be able to separate the tiller-stock from the rudder without giving himself a hernia. Your risk.

Advice - not in the rules, but...........Rudder retainers and clevis-pins

If your rudder comes off it will not float. Maybe you're fed up with your nice carbon tiller, and your rudder's got a few scratches, so you'd like a new one. But if it comes off while you're racing, that's a big deal. First you have the shame of having to be rescued, second you lose your result(s), and third you lose at least 50 when you make a claim against Noble. There's a plea from Nobles on the UKLA website about fitting a retaining split ring through that hole in the top pintle. If you don't want to have to fiddle wih a split ring when you come ashore - and I'm no angel myself on this - make sure the spring retainer is not bent out of shape, for that makes it weaker. Replace it for a couple of quid. Upward pressure on the rudder can easily overcome a weakened spring.