11/2016 Note: APS practice sails are temporarily unavailable. In addition to all the fun tweaky bits you can found in our Laser Upgrade Kits , we now offering a Laser Practice Sail for Radials and Standard Lasers. These new sails are made from 3.8 oz cloth with more resin than the class legal sails. The result is a sail that will hold it’s shape better and last even longer than your race sails. Using a laser practice sail is a great way to […]
11/2016 Note: APS practice sails are temporarily unavailable.
In addition to all the fun tweaky bits you can found
These new sails are made from 3.8 oz cloth with more resin than the class legal sails. The result is a sail that will hold it’s shape better and last even longer than your race sails.
Using a laser practice sail is a great way to save your class legal sails for the important regattas and have a great looking, fast sail to use for weeknight or frostbite racing if your local fleet allows it. I used the sail the other week for SSA’s TESOD series and it’s just as fast (probably a bit faster since it was brand new) than the class legal sails out there.
Recreational Laser sails come with tell tails already installed. They also include battens and an APS Laser Pro Clew Strap.
One of the great things about Laser sailing is that even the most Gucci of upgrades is only going to set you back less than a dinghy boat unit (a mere Ben Franklin rather than a big boat grand). This year we’re offering a couple different new Laser rigging options that will make your life easier and help keep your head out of the boat. One of the upgrades we’re offering is the Laser® Pro Clew Inhauler. It attaches to […]
One of the great things about Laser sailing is that even the most Gucci of upgrades is only going to set you back less than a dinghy boat unit (a mere Ben Franklin rather than a big boat grand). This year we’re offering a couple different new Laser rigging options that will make your life easier and help keep your head out of the boat.
One of the upgrades we’re offering is the Laser® Pro Clew Inhauler. It attaches to the old outhaul cleat on the boom and hooks on to your clew to pull the sail forward when you ease the outhaul coming around the mark.
It’s super easy to install – you just fold it in half and luggage tag the middle of the shock cord to the cleat. Then just cross the shock cord under the boom and hook it onto your clew strap or through the grommet. You can leave the shock cord on the boom when you’re not racing making it super easy to hook up when you’re rigging.
The other upgrade is the Laser® Pro Daggerboard Downhaul Kit. It’s an upgrade for the daggerboard shock cord that comes with the boat. It mounts to the eyes aft of the mast and attaches to the daggerboard with a tiny snap shackle. This provides a lot of downward tension on the board and helps hold it down tighter in the trunk.
Combine thing with the new Daggerboard Friction Pad and you’ll have the ultimate system to keep the board down upwind.
If you haven’t checked it out we also have a section devoted to mainsheet options for the Laser®.
Here’s a short instructional video by yours truly on how to install the Daggerboard Downhaul Kit.
We finally got our first shipment of the new laser parts upgrade, the Daggerboard Friction Pad here at last and all the Laser sailors on the staff are excited to get their hands on them. Without even opening the package I can already see that this friction pad will offer a big improvement over the old W daggerboard brake (really anything would be an improvement). Check out below for more pictures of this must have Laser Parts upgrade. The blue shown […]
We finally got our first shipment of the new laser parts upgrade, the Daggerboard Friction Pad here at last and all the Laser sailors on the staff are excited to get their hands on them. Without even opening the package I can already see that this friction pad will offer a big improvement over the old W daggerboard brake (really anything would be an improvement). Check out below for more pictures of this must have Laser Parts upgrade.
The blue shown is a hard plastic while the white is a more rubbery feeling material. It angles aft from top to bottom – fitting with the shape of the daggerboard. The mounting holes are oval shaped to allow you to move the friction pad fore and aft to increase/decrease the friction created. The idea is that this allows you to fine tune the friction for your particular daggerboard and setup.
Hopefully this will help eliminate the need to kick the board down between tacks as well as reducing the side to side movement when sailing in chop. Aaron in customer service is sailing a Thanksgiving Day Regatta tomorrow so look for some user feedback here on the Stern Scoop early next week. The Annapolis Laser fleet takes this Sunday off from frostbiting so I won”t use it for the first time for another week and a half.
At $19.00 we finally have a Laser upgrade that won”t break the bank. While they were a little late in launching the final product (initial feedback said they were coming out over the summer) Laser Performance now says they have plenty in stock.
Stay tuned for more feedback as we put this new Laser Performance Daggerboard Friction Pad to the test.
Many believe that one of the great things about sailing a Laser is how simple it is. There”s very little you can change or tweak about the boat – you just get in and go racing. One of the few things you can add to aid your performance is a Laser Wind Indicator. Sure, adding a wind indicator won”t turn heads like a new Laser Sail, new Line, new blocks, or like Chris does when he goes out for a night on […]
Many believe that one of the great things about sailing a Laser is how simple it is. There”s very little you can change or tweak about the boat – you just get in and go racing. One of the few things you can add to aid your performance is a Laser Wind Indicator.
Sure, adding a wind indicator won”t turn heads like a new Laser Sail, new Line, new blocks, or like Chris does when he goes out for a night on the town dressed up as “Christine”. But, a wind indicator will alert you to deviations in the wind when they”re not always apparent and that can mean valuable points across the finish line.
With that in mind, I took a look at, and tested, the four most popular mast mounted wind indicators for the Laser to see how they stack up against each other. I also spoke with some local Laser gurus to get their tips on getting the most out of your wind indicator. I also spoke with Ryan Minth, creator of the C-Vane, about what sets his wind indicator apart from the others and how he uses it.
At first glance, all four of the wind indicators share some similarities. They all mount to the mast with a wrap around bracket and share a similar shape in terms of how the wind vane sticks out from the mast. The C-Vane does offer something new in terms of design with its dual arms – the other three have the same single L shaped arm.
For testing purposes I mounted them all to Aaron”s lower mast section and evaluated them in terms of responsiveness, weight, cost, mounting bracket construction and durability. Admittedly the last two were fairly subjective but I”ve tried to provide a lot of pictures so you can draw your own conclusions as well. As usual a disclaimer about the non-scientificness of our testing procedure applies here – I”ve done my best to evaluate these fairly but I”m only human so errors are possible and even likely. And so with that, on with the results….
|Rightside Up||Upside Down|
|Kingfisher (no longer available)|
|Little Hawk MkII||1.0 oz||$20.80||2nd (8)||3rd (12)|
|C-Vane||3.8 oz||$35.00||3rd (12)||1st (4)|
|Davis Black Max||1.4 oz||$33.99||4th (14)||4th (13)|
As you see from our comparison, the Little Hawk MKII comes in as the lightest and the Black Max is the cheapest. Responsiveness was measured in two ways: with the wind indicator mounted right-side up (arm on the bottom) and right-side down (with the arm on top to protect the indicator from being flicked into the water by a passing mainsheet). Right-side up the Kingfisher and Little Hawk MKII faired well, but when they were upside down the C-Vane was clearly the favorite. The C-Vane was still right-side up though, as its design naturally sheds sheets, adding a little wrinkle to the results.
How We Tested (Warning Science “ish” Content)
To determine responsiveness I mounted all the wind indicators to the mast and tied it up inside the shop. Unfortunately, the purchase request I submitted for a wind tunnel with our Accounting Department was still “pending”, so we had to make do with a fan.
I turned on the fan and slowly walked towards the mast, noting which indicators began to respond first. I rotated their positions on the mast and performed the test over a total of 4 times. I then repeated the tests with the wind indicators mounted upside down – except for the C-Vane which I left right side up because, once again, it naturally protects the vane from outside sheets.
After performing all the tests, I added up the scores for each wind indicator and determined rankings with the lowest total being ranked 1st. In parentheses next to the rankings on the chart above you can see the total score which gives you an idea how where they all compare to each. The C-Vane was clearly dominant in the upside down test with the rest sharing fairly similar results. Right side up both the C-Vane and the Black Max were a step behind the Hawk and Kingfisher.
The wind indicators started to move at around 0.5 knots of wind and all of them had responded by the time the wind speed was just 1.4 knots, so this wasn’t exactly a high wind velocity test. I expect that responsiveness becomes less relevant the windier it gets so if you often sail where it’s windy it may not be much of a consideration for you.
Right Side Up or Upside Down?
The argument about which way to mount your wind indicator is older than time itself (aka, Steve in Customer Service). Much like putting jam or butter on your toast, this is a matter of personal preference.
As evidenced by our tests, right side up gives you increased responsiveness – this makes a lot of sense because that’s how these wind indicators were built to operate. The loss of responsiveness when the indicator is upside down seems to directly correlate to the construction of the vane itself (discussed in greated detail with each indicator below) and you”ll need to decide whether decreased performance in light air is worth the decreased possession of the indicator itself. If you really are worried about losing your indicator, mounting it upside down is probably going to be a better, more cost effective option for you than just avoiding other boats and starting in the 3rd row. Then again, Chris likes to start 3rd row all the time, and he doesn”t sail with a wind indicator at all.
Anyways, here”s a closer look at each of the four wind indicators with some brief conclusions about each.
Vane: The Little Hawk MKII vane mounts on a pin shaped bearing and is held on with a small black plastic bracket that snaps into the base of the vane. One downside of this system is that I expect it”s difficult to make these plastic pieces exact enough that the weight rests on the bearing and not the plastic bracket. Since I don’t have x-ray vision I can’t tell if it’s really resting on the pin bearing inside the vane or not so your guess is as good as mine.
Mounting Bracket: The Hawk mount has a plastic bracket with a loop of shock cord that wraps around the back of the mast and hooks onto the other side of the bracket. You can see in the pictures above the small orange plastic tab that hooks it together(the middle picture is the “locked” position). The two black tabs are there to prevent the tab from flipping off through accidental contact.
The Good: The Little Hawk MKII is the lightest wind indicator of the four at only 1.0 oz and it”s also fairly inexpensive. It”s also pretty responsive, finishing a close 2nd in our right side up test.
The Bad: I think the Hawk has the worst mounting bracket of the group – the elastic attachment is the least secure of all the brackets and the material of the bracket itself is made of a fairly lightweight plastic. Overall it does not feel as secure or as durable as the other indicators. It also has a lot of wobble on the mast because the bracket is fairly narrow – if you tap on the wind vane it will bounce up and down more than the others.
The Conclusions: The Little Hawk MKII is a very lightweight, low cost wind indicator that is pretty responsive. You pay a price for the weight savings (which honestly are negligible) in terms of durability though. Overall I think this is probably my least favorite of the group.
Vane: The Davis Black Max vane spins on plastic bearings both above and below the vane. When right side up it sides on three small points for lower friction. This vane is the only one that comes already assembled and the top cap that holds it on feels very secure.
Mounting Bracket: The bracket on the Black Max is fairly sturdy plastic with some extra vertical tabs to keep it more secure on the mast. The shock cord clip hooks into a J-shaped loop in the bracket and the shock cord itself has an adjustable toggle. It allows you to tighten the shock cord to compensate for elongation with age or if you just want the bracket to be tighter.
The Good: The Black Max, the least expensive of the lot, has a solid, secure bracket that can be tightened down. The wind vane has a bearing on both the top and bottom making it nearly as effective upside down as it is right side up. The Black Max also comes assembled in a plastic tube that you can store the vane in to prevent damage from sitting in the pocket of a blade bag. According to Davis the tube is “unbreakable” – honestly, it says that on the package. While I think that’s perhaps an overstatement it is really useful.
The Bad: The Black Max is not the most responsive wind vane we tested. It was the least responsive of the group in the right side up position and while it’s fairly comparable to the others upside down it still finished last in that test as well.
The Conclusions: The Black Max is a great value – it is pretty durable and it while it’s not very responsive it is about par with everything but the C-Vane if you mount it upside down. The storage tube is actually a very useful accessory since the indicators can be damaged in your blade bag if you’re not careful. All in all I think it’s a solid vane for a great price especially if you live in a windy area where the lack of responsiveness won”t matter as much.
Vane: The C-Vane is obviously unique in many respects. The vane itself rests between the two ends of the metal support. There is a black plastic clip that connects the top and bottom supports and keeps them at the right width. I spoke with C-Vane creator Ryan Minth and he said the proper position for the clip is just aft of the vane – that way it keeps the distance at the tip at the proper 2.36 mm. The vane then sits in the gap between the metal rods and it actually spins on a point that”s molded inside the plastic vane. Ryan says this creates a very low friction vane because there”s no need for a plastic clip or retaining device that adds friction. The vane itself is also individually replaceable.
The C-Vane bracket is noticeably more substantial than the other indicators in our group. The bracket is about twice as tall as the others and is held on with a Velcro strap. The bracket itself is made of a flexible rubber material that is an upgrade from the original C-Vane bracket material. I”ve spoken with several people who had the bracket break on the original design (it used to be made of stiffer plastic that was somewhat brittle) but the more flexible design now offered is much more durable. The Velcro strap is available as a replacement part.
The Good: The C-Vane is extremely durable – the bracket is very strong and the Velcro should hold up better than the shock cord on the other designs. The availability of replacement parts is also nice. The upside down responsiveness test shows that if you”re worried about mainsheets hooking your indicator the C-Vane is the clear choice. Ryan told me that in the next model they are looking to refine the balance of the vane and use a more durable vane material developed by golf tee manufacturers – I can”t hit a driver to save my life so I don”t see a lot of tees but it sounds like a promising improvement.
The Bad: The C-Vane is the most expensive wind indicator as well as the heaviest. The extra ounce or two is hardly worth crying over though since that”s probably worth a couple spoonfuls of water in the cockpit. This vane wasn”t the most responsive compared to the other wind indicators in the right side up test.
The Conclusions: The C-Vane is my recommendation for the best all around wind indicator. It”s only real downsides are being slightly less responsive and more expensive. The expense is mitigated by the availability of replacement parts and I think once there”s any real amount of wind the responsiveness isn”t as much of a factor. The real stand out quality of the C-Vane is it”s durability – the mounting bracket is far superior to the rest. Particularly if you sail in an area where it”s generally blowing more than 10 knots the C-Vane is definitely going to be the way to go. If you”re tired of buying new indicators because you keep losing them off the boat this is also probably a good way to go.
Ok, so once I get a wind indicator how do I use it?
I talked with local Laser sailor Luke who works for Farr Yacht Design so I figure he knows a thing or two about wind and making boats go fast (he also happens to be very fast in the Laser). I asked Luke about how he uses his wind indicator and he offered a couple useful suggestions.
Both Ryan Minth and Luke mount their wind indicators so that they”re right in the line of sight between you and the waves in front of the boat. This can enable you to trim your sail without having to look up so you can stay focused on working the waves.
Luke also suggested that one of the best uses of the wind indicator is downwind both to determine whether you are by the lee or not as well as keep track of small shifts. I find that it”s easy to miss out on a shift and be sailing 5-10 degrees to high or low of by the lee because the feel of the boat remains similar. Having a wind indicator can help you catch those shifts and react faster to them. It”s also useful in light conditions upwind when Luke says the tell tales don”t respond as quickly as the wind indicator does to small shifts.
What does this all mean?
I think having a wind indicator on the Laser is definitely a benefit and will help you improve your sailing if you don”t already have one. If you do have one inevitably it will need replacement and I think the C-Vane is a great choice particularly because of it”s durability. The Kingfisher is a solid choice as well if responsiveness is paramount to you, but really only if you mount it right side up.
As always if you have any comments, questions or suggestions leave us a comment or send us an email.
I’m going to catch hell from James and Aaron for writing the blog post about numbering a Laser sail. You see, I bought a new Laser dinghy, and Laser sail from APS a little over two years ago and haven’t sailed it yet… not once… ever. Why, you ask? Well, I’m a pansy who won’t sail during a frostbite series because it’s stupidly cold and thanks to a knee injury, other sailing conflicts and general laziness (read: it’s really just […]
I’m going to catch hell from James and Aaron for writing the blog post about numbering a Laser sail. You see, I bought a new Laser dinghy, and Laser sail from APS a little over two years ago and haven’t sailed it yet… not once… ever. Why, you ask? Well, I’m a pansy who won’t sail during a frostbite series because it’s stupidly cold and thanks to a knee injury, other sailing conflicts and general laziness (read: it’s really just the laziness) I haven’t gotten out there at all.
But when I do finally make plans to splash the “Land Laser”, one of the first orders of business will be numbering my sail. Now, I could slip the guys downstairs an Alexander Hamilton to do the job — not that they’d be doing me any favors since APS is always happy to install sail numbers on your new sail for a mere $10.00 — but I’m more of a hands-on kind of guy and I’ll end up doing it myself.
In addition to providing you a link to full written instructions for numbering a sail (clicky clicky), we also put together a video featuring our Boat Sales Manager, John Maloney, numbering a brand new Laser Radial sail.
Two notes: we kind of apologize for the tape gun that keeps going off during the video. We filmed this right next to our Shipping Department and these gosh darn youngsters have no respect for folks trying to film a video for a moderately viewed niche blog. “We have to get customer’s orders out!”, they cried. Whatever…
Also, around the 4:20 mark, Jarrett starts moaning in the background like a choking walrus to throw John off his game — John has none of it. He’s a pro… you hear me? Pro.
The Laser ACC (Atlantic Coast Championship) regatta was held this past weekend one block from our APS offices at the Severn Sailing Association here in Annapolis. It was a fairly light air event with a total of 5 races held. Even though it was light it was a great regatta and I think everyone had a good time. The Laser Radial event was won by Christopher Stocke and the Laser 4.7 winner was Mary Hall. Here in the US a Laser […]
The Laser ACC (Atlantic Coast Championship) regatta was held this past weekend one block from our APS offices at the Severn Sailing Association here in Annapolis. It was a fairly light air event with a total of 5 races held. Even though it was light it was a great regatta and I think everyone had a good time. The Laser Radial event was won by Christopher Stocke and the Laser 4.7 winner was Mary Hall.
Here in the US a Laser Radial is primarily a junior and women”s dinghy boat so there were a lot of young sailors out for the event. Out of the 63 competing radials 32 were juniors including all of the top 5. There were also eight 4.7″s racing, all of whom were juniors.
Standing around the keg Saturday night a number of us were lamenting how badly we were being beaten by kids from high school with our only consolation being that we were old enough to drink the beer. I certainly have a lot of admiration for all the younger sailors who were all very fast (more so than your author who finished in the back half).
Saturday we got in 2 races in super light conditions and both races saw big ups and downs as puffs filled in from different sides of the course. The second race was shortened at the 2nd weather mark after the breeze died and then filled in from the right side causing a bit of reversal in the middle of the fleet.
Sunday we had a bit of a sea breeze and got in 3 races in probably 6-10kts. There was a lot of mixed up chop on the course which made keeping the boat moving fast forward and finding clear air key. Overall youth clearly won out over experience – although the honest truth is that a lot of the younger sailors probably had both in their favor having sailed on high school or college teams.
What about the blocks?
Those of you who were reading last weeks post on Harken Laser Traveler and Boom Block, a First Look know that this weekend was my first real experience using the new equipment. (Harken Laser Aft Block, Harken Laser Forward Block and Harken Laser Traveler Blocks)
I thought they worked really well. Did I honestly notice a vast improvement over the old blocks? I wouldn”t say vast, but there”s only so much you can change and they were never going to be light years ahead of the old ones.
The ball bearing blocks do run better, but I also think the block itself moves more freely – it is more open at the top and doesn”t bind against the boom as much as the old ones. The new traveler block is also a nice improvement – doing away with the shrink wrap / tape to hold it together. It stands much straighter than the old block which I think might offer advantages in leech tension when the sheet is eased but I don”t have any data to support that. The small traveler sheave is the only non ball bearing one – which is no big deal since it”s stationary most of the time anyways.
Overall I think it was a great event and I had a lot of fun. I thought it was awesome how far people traveled to sail – I know there were people from Texas and Canada who made the trip. Even though the conditions were tough it was a great weekend to be out on the water.
In last weeks blog post you had a First Look at the new Harken Laser Blocks that should be available at the end of the month. Since then we’ve had a bunch of people pre-order them already, so kudos to you early adopters! Thankfully, within the last few days I’ve managed to get my hands on a set of these babies and install them on my own Laser. I took them out for a spin during the weeknight racing we […]
In last weeks blog post you had a First Look at the new Harken Laser Blocks that should be available at the end of the month. Since then we’ve had a bunch of people pre-order them already, so kudos to you early adopters!
Thankfully, within the last few days I’ve managed to get my hands on a set of these babies and install them on my own Laser. I took them out for a spin during the weeknight racing we hold here at SSA on Tuesday nights. Unfortunately the weather didn’t fully cooperate with my plans as the we mostly drifted around in a breeze that varied between 0 and 3 knots.
Never the less I was impressed with the new blocks and I got a few comments from some of the other Laser sailors out on the course – so at the very least these new blocks will totally make you look cooler. And everybody knows that looking cool is the first step to going fast.
Here’s a video we shot before I went out sailing talking about the differences between the new and old blocks. Sorry for the intermittent applause, there was an awards ceremony going on for the Snipe Women’s Nationals that had just concluded – which was won by Carol Cronin and Annapolis local Kim Couranz by the way. There are some more detailed technical specs below the video.
|Old Laser Blocks||New Harken Blocks|
|Traveler Block||2.7 oz (including shrink wrap)||2.5 oz|
|Aft Boom Block||1.7||1.6|
|Forward Boom Block||1.5||1.3|
|Total||5.9 oz||5.4 oz|
So the new blocks are 0.5 oz lighter which is a littler more than a 8% reduction in weight. Is that significant? I can’t imagine anyone would ever actually notice that small of a weight difference. If you’re doing an Olympic campaign than sure, every little bit counts, but for most of us that’s not the big selling point here.
The blocks all measure pretty similarly. The distance between the bearing surfaces of the sheaves on the new traveler block is 1/8″ further apart than on the old blocks but Laser Performance assures me that the over distance when the traveler and the boom block nest together is the same. I still need to measure the overall traveler line to boom distance with both of them and will put those measurements up this weekend after I have a chance to put a tape measure on both setups.
Overall the new Harken boom and traveler blocks seem pretty cool and I think will be a welcome new change (albeit a small one) in a class that’s been pretty static for a while.
I’ll be using the blocks this weekend at the Laser Radial & 4.7 ACCs here at SSA so any additional feedback I have I’ll post as a comment here.
If you”re a Laser sailor you”ve probably heard rumors about Harken Laser Blocks for a while now. The class authorized new blocks manufactured by Harken a little while ago but we”re only just now getting confirmation that they”re in the manufacturing process. These new blocks will be available as a set containing the traveler blocks and both boom blocks as well as rivets to attach the boom blocks. The set will sell for $95 – or at least that”s what […]
If you”re a Laser sailor you”ve probably heard rumors about Harken Laser Blocks for a while now. The class authorized new blocks manufactured by Harken a little while ago but we”re only just now getting confirmation that they”re in the manufacturing process.
These new blocks will be available as a
set containing the traveler blocks and both boom blocks as well as rivets to attach the boom blocks. The set will sell for $95 – or at least that”s what we”ve been told by Laser Performance.
The boom blocks are pretty straight forward but they should hold up a lot better than the original Laser boom blocks and they look pretty sharp. The traveler blocks are a definite improvement. They are a one piece block so you no longer have to deal with the S-hook and trying to fit the shrink wrap over them and they”ll never come apart on you.
We”ve been told by Laser Performance that they “anticipate having these available from their warehouse 6/24.” If they hold to that schedule we should be able to start shipping them out to APS customers around July 1st. I certainly wouldn”t go so far as to promise that date will hold but we”re taking pre-orders now and will ship the blocks out the same day we get them in.
Look for more about how these blocks perform, check out my follow up post on Laser ACC Wrapup and Harken Block Test Drive