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Rigging Guide

Rigging the Laser

The Mainsheet

Most top sailors use the metric size between 1⁄4" and 5/16", 10mm. Yale light or something similar runs through the blocks nicely. 44’ with an eight knot 4" from the end leaves a short tail to grab if it is let out to the ratchet accidentally. The new autoratchets are great and really help the sheet go out for aggressive downwind sailing. Mainsheet cleats are also good, especially for getting the vang on. The little Ronstan minis aren’t too painful to sit on and hold the sheet well.

The Vang

A swivel at the base is necessary, ideally one with bearings that rotates easily. Some swivels have 1⁄4" pins, so the vang tang needs to be drilled out to accept this. The other way to go is to get bushing washers and use a standard 3/16" pin, so the vang can be taken from boat to boat easily. The pin may bend a little, so it is good to have a few spares. 3/16" Samson spectra should be tied so when the bowline purchase hits the block at max ease it causes a little tension on the boom. This ensures a full range of travel. (If there is so much slack that the vang is easy to hook into the boom, it won’t be possible to get enough vang tension in breeze.) A slip-knot loop handle is a must, and some people have a tail after that to tie to the daggerboard so it can always be reached. (see diagram)

The Outhaul

3/16" Samson spectra with two thimbles, 22’ a hitch around the long part (from cleat to mast) included in the knot that holds the front thimble works great to keep the whole thing up. (Diagram)

The Clew Tie

Many sailors are used to either a bolt-roped foot or an outhaul car, something that makes the clew travel along the boom without going up. It’s important to teach that the clew tie effectively makes a track for the clew, and tying it snugly to the boom is the hallmark of a careful job rigging. 1/8" Samson spectra 30" Three laps around boom allows tying a square knot tight enough. McLube the boom and tie down before every race day so it slides well.

The Cunningham

3/16" Samson spectra with two loops. There are diagrams with three loops, but the added friction offsets the purchase gain. The top bowline placement is critical for max travel. (Diagram)

The Traveler

3/16" vectran, 9’. A large loop bowline that the line runs through with a single hitch allows the loop to be pulled very tight and is relatively easy to unrig. (Diagram)

Hiking strap

May need to be shortened so there is room for enough adjustment. A 10-12" between the aft edge of the cockpit and the strap is good.

Strap bungee

1/8", about 2’ depending on strap. Makes a loop through strap and under traveler behind cleat. A square knot will eventually come undone. Tie overhand knots in each tail and push them tight against the square knot.

Strap Adjuster

6’ of 3/16" pre-stretch (spectra is too slippery), looped around and back. (See diagram)


Those little ends like to come off and get stuck in the sail. Glue them on

Tell tales

Three sets: one for upwind near the luff, one in the middle of the top third of the sail, and one for by the lee two feet in from the leach. Light yarn works nicely because it isn’t too jumpy.

Wind Vane

A windvane or long yarn in front of the mast is great for light air when it’s shifty and for learning angles downwind.

Rigging the Laser

A Laser sail flapping in the wind is getting old quickly. The batten pockets are screaming, the cloth is deteriorating, and the stitching is strained. When possible, the sail should go up only when ready to go sailing, and should come down when the boat won’t be sailed for a while. The hardest place to rig is with the boat already in the water.

1. Check stern plug!

2. Launch

3. Daggerboard in, but not bungee on yet — it will be in the way of the mast step.

4. Tiller into rudderhead and tied before getting on boat. This reduces chance of losing rudder while putting it into the gudgeons. Rudder on

5. Mainsheet rigged completely through boom.

6. Outhaul through boom cleat and back eye with tail free and ready, and purchase loop laid out on deck around maststep

7. Mast together — a wrap or two of packing tape so the pieces fit tightly is good. The rivet should be pointed directly back. Get the collar just started in the bottom section and stand the mast up. Lift it and lightly tap it down on the ground. The weight of the top section will push it into the bottom section with a few taps. If the mast has a permanent bend, DO NOT STRAIGHTEN IT, flip the ends (see setting up the Laser)

8. Sail on mast, battens in, vang pinned on. Rigging Tip: put pin through from port to starboard so the last part of the cunningham doesn’t catch on the ring-ding.

9. Rig cunningham

10. Step mast — if there are many boats in the water side by side so the boat can’t be pulled along the dock, this is a two person job: one person is on boat behind mast step on knees to hold mast butt in place and help pull mast up, while other person walks mast upright and steps on bow pushing mast up.

11. Rig the tail of the cunningham through the eye and cleat immediately and pull a little tension on. This helps keep the sail from twisting on the mast, and ensures that in the unlikely event of a water landing the mast doesn’t come partially out and destroy the maststep. Make sure the bowline handle tied in the tail of the cunningham only allows enough slack for the luff tension to be released and no more. IF THE BOAT CAPSIZES WITHOUT ENOUGH CUNNINGHAM AND THE MAST COMES OUT A LITTLE WHILE RIGHTING, THE MASTSTEP TUBE WILL BREAK.

12. Most people put the boom on the gooseneck pin, then try to catch the flapping clew and rig the outhaul while standing on the poopdeck. It likes to fall off that little pin, and having it on makes the sail want to fill, compromising balance. Instead, stand in the cockpit and bring the end of the boom forward so it reaches the sail easily without it filling. Rig the outhaul set at max ease, and rig the clew tie down. Then push the boom back and put it on the pin, being careful to get the parts of the cunningham around or on one side of the gooseneck properly.

13. Hold boom down and put vang key in boom. On the way off the boat, tie the board bungee to the bow eye — YOU’RE DONE!

Rigging on dolly, dock, beach, or grass

1. Begin with step 6, do not rig mainsheet

2. When rig is up with cunningham and outhaul on, rig mainsheet backwards through ratchet, front boom block, eyestrap, and back block. Tie a slip-knot. Now the sail can rotate in front of the boat if necessary, but the sailor can sheet in from the ratchet to get the boom around the parked camels and other obstacles in the boatpark.

3. Daggerboard is placed with the top forward edge in the aft bottom corner of the cockpit. This prevents the tip from breaking when the bow is lifted for launch - a very good habit

4. If the boat will be launched down a ramp, rig the tiller and rudder together tied down, and place rudder blade under traveler, with tiller pointed forward and traveler tight. Slide rudder back until nut on rudder head is held forward by traveler. If wind allows, finish rigging mainsheet. Wheel boat down ramp and when transom reaches end, turn boat 45 degrees and put one foot against dolly wheel, reach back and drop rudder in.

5. If the edge of the ramp is well carpeted, the bow can bet set down off the dolly and the board dropped in too, and the bungee can even be tied. If not, the bow is set in the water and the boat turned sideways to the ramp to put the board in. If the wind is blowing away from the ramp, the advanced technique is to simply step on and push off, putting the board in while floating away from ramp. It’s important to stress that efficiency and etiquette on the ramp will earn respect and help prevent congestion.

4. If the boat will be launched from a shallow beach with the wind offshore, leave the mainsheet as is (with slipknot) and put the rudder in the gudgeons with the blade up (the bolt should be big and tight enough that it stays up). Wheel the boat backwards into the water and slide off dolly, push rudder down a little and step on to drift away from beach with boom out in front of boat. Put blade in when deep enough and when clear push rudder down and go head to wind to finish rigging mainsheet.

7. The most difficult launch is off a shallow beach with the wind onshore. This often means there are waves to contend with, and one has to sail upwind with very little blade or rudder in the water. Wheel the boat along the beach to begin on the lifted tack away from beach if there is limited area to the side (a pier, breakwall, moorings, etc.) Rig the mainsheet completely, and put the boat just off head to wind on the correct tack. Put the daggerboard in and tie the bungee to hold it up. Put the rudder down just below horizontal. Wheel the boat into the water bow first, being careful to keep it just slightly off the wind so the boom doesn’t hit the board. When the boat is floating, turn the front of the dolly into the wind and slide the boat forward off the dolly. It helps to have someone hold the dolly back as the boat is slid forward. Push the board and rudder down as far as possible, step in and balance well since there’s not a lot of rudder in the water.