How to Sail Laser Sailboats

How to Sail Laser Sailboats
Sailing a Laser combines the convenience of single-handed dinghy sailing with the speed and performance of a larger racing sailboat. If you've sailed dinghies before, you will pick up the Laser relatively easily, although you will notice a few differences. The Laser is very responsive to shifts in your weight, even for a dinghy, and the tall mast and large sail area can make for thrilling, and occasionally overpowering, sailing. You can learn to sail on a Laser, but since this is a racing boat, it is not quite as forgiving as a Sunfish, Zuma or Optimist.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Rig Your Laser

Things You’ll Need:
  • Life jacket (type III PFD recommended) Laser sailboat
  • Life jacket (type III PFD recommended)
  • Laser sailboat
Step 1
Flush out the mast-step with water before stepping the mast, and thoroughly clean the butt of the mast. Even a particle of sand or two between the butt and the step will grind away at the step, eventually resulting in a leak.
Step 2
Slide the sail over the mast. Take care to keep the luff of the sail straight when sliding it over the mast. It is easy for the sail to partially wrap around the mast, resulting in a reefed sail. Ensure that the battens are in place.
Step 3
Attach boom and sail controls. Begin with the outhaul, in order to hold the sail onto the boom. Then attach the cunningham, mainsheet, clew tie-down and boom vang.

Launch

Step 1
Use a light dolly to wheel the boat into the water.
Step 2
If a clean carpeted ramp is available, you can also launch your Laser via ramp. Never slide your Laser into the water without a ramp because the fiberglass hull scratches easily, which can diminish performance.
Step 3
If no dolly or ramp is available, ask a friend to help you carry the Laser into the water. The Laser is light enough for two adults to move.

Sailing

Step 1
Sailing upwind---keep your mainsheet, outhaul and cunningham tight, and always keep your daggerboard fully down. A fairly loose hiking strap is useful if it's windy.
Step 2
Sailing on a reach---loosen all sail controls slightly, and angle your weight aft a bit. The goal is to pop the bow out of the water and initiate planing (or surfing). Lift your daggerboard up halfway---if it begins to hum, then you have started to plane.
Step 3
Sailing downwind---sit as far forward as you can, lift your daggerboard nearly all the way, and heel the boat slightly to windward.

Tips & Warnings

 
Use a bungee cord to attach the daggerboard to the mast; the tension will keep it in place while sailing. Beware of gusts or windshifts when running downwind. These can result in a "death roll," or a sudden capsize and turtle to windward. To avoid a death-roll, head up slightly, and lower your daggerboard.
 
Use a bungee cord to attach the daggerboard to the mast; the tension will keep it in place while sailing.
 
Beware of gusts or windshifts when running downwind. These can result in a "death roll," or a sudden capsize and turtle to windward. To avoid a death-roll, head up slightly, and lower your daggerboard.
 
Never participate in any watersports without a life jacket.
 
Never participate in any watersports without a life jacket.

Resources

Article Written By Fred Samsa

Fred Samsa has been writing articles related to the arts, entertainment and home improvement since 2003. His work has appeared in numerous museum publications, including program content for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in art from Temple University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Brown University.

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