1 October 2001.

RULE CHANGES –General Background

# See note on new mast retention line requirement.

In January 1999 the Laser Class World Council set in motion a proposal to review the control line systems on the Laser with a view to making the control lines (boom vang, Cunningham and Outhaul) easier to handle for lighter weight sailors and people joining the class.  The class members approved the changes in principle during 1999.  During 2000 a World Council Working Party was tasked with putting the proposals into a final format and testing various systems.   Much work was undertaken with a wide range of input.  This work was finalised at a 4 day meeting in late January 2001 when the working party met with builders’ representatives and test sailed proposed systems using a variety of experienced and inexperienced sailors and established a framework for the rules drafting.  Drafts were prepared and the builders went into the final development phase of producing production fittings and testing these.

In preparing the new rules the Working Party followed World Council guidelines that the changes should be easy to retrofit with a minimum of tools, that there should be a similar freedom on rigging control lines to the current rules without compromising the “one design” philosophy of the Laser class and that the controls should be simple and look neat.  In addition the Working Party felt it was desirable to limit cost increases by restricting additional fittings, that the rules should contain enough direction to limit to maintain a controlled evolution, that allowed solutions should work in strong weather conditions, that all boats should continue to look similar and any new fittings have an aesthetic design.

The final outcome was to give the following options:

A builder supplied deck fitting to take two sailor supplied blocks that replaces the cunningham fairlead using the same fixing holes (photo A)

Photo A

A builder supplied cleat base to take two sailor supplied cam cleats that replaces the existing cunningham clam cleat using the same holes (photo B)

Photo B

Together with other changes this brings both the cunningham and outhaul controls to the centre of the deck (photo C also showing one of several prototype builder supplied vang fittings and a 4:1 cascade system for the cunningham).

Photo C
NOTE: Centreboard retaining line required by rule 7(e)ii omitted from picture to give a clear view of control lines.

A builder supplied vang cleating fitting incorporating blocks and a swivel cam cleat as an integral fitting.

Upgrading the existing vang fittings with additional blocks

It was determined that leading the boom vang control to the deck was unnecessary, would add cost with little or benefit and the builders were concerned about increased loads on the deck fittings.

The changes – overview

Cunningham and Outhaul

The remaining improvements to the cunningham and outhaul are the substitution of rope loops (with or without thimbles) with blocks (up to 4) and allow 3 separate lines in the cunningham and 2 separate lines in the outhaul to rig cascade systems. 

Boom Vang

The Working Party originally recommended to limit the boom vang options to avoid a proliferation of “home made” systems whilst still allowing improved control and similar flexibility to what we are currently used to.   Since the draft rules were published on the website questions raised included will there be an option to not use the full amount of purchases in each system as illustrated.  As a result the Boom Vang rule has been revised.   There are restrictions on the number of extra blocks allowed, the original small boom vang block may be replaced by a double pulley block, 1 or 2 blocks may be added to the original vang cleating block.  The following photos 1,2,3 and 4 illustrate some examples of what is now allowed.

The original 3:1 simple system (photo 1).

Photo 1

Upgrade One (photo 2)

Sailor research indicated that many would be happy using existing systems and just substituting blocks or thimbles for rope loops in the line.  This a simple upgrade, which on popular systems requires one additional small block and is a significant improvement.

Photo 2

Upgrade 2 (photo 3)

A further upgrade to remove a friction point in the system where one of the purchases runs over a rivet in at the bottom of the small alloy vang key block is illustrated in photo 3.  Both the systems in photo 2 and 3 use the same length of rope and provide an 8:1 system.

Photo 3

Upgrade 3 (photo 4)

The original objectives had still not been fully met in providing a system that was easy to use and rig for young and lightweight sailors.   This was achieved with a completely new vang cleat fitting to be builder supplied.  Several fittings are currently being considered by the builders and should be introduced before the end of the year.  These options offer 15:1 purchase and are specifically designed for lighter weight and younger sailors.  The target price for these vang systems is 135 US dollars retail.  

Although not offering the advantages of an improved cleating system the Working Party felt it was desirable to allow a 15:1 system using the existing blocks with some limited additions.  This option uses a single block either side of the existing large alloy cleat block and a “floating” double block with a becket.(photo 4).

Photo 4

Mast retention line - NEW RULE FOR ALL BOATS

One of the side effects of allowing blocks in the control line systems is that the reduced friction increases the risk of the mast falling out of the mast step if a Laser goes upside down when capsized.   This has happened even with existing controls and without the new deck fittings.  To prevent this a new rule has been introduced requiring a simple mast retention line between the cunningham fairlead/deck fitting and either the gooseneck or vang mast fitting.


All the rope systems have been tested by Mark Littlejohn.  Mark is an experienced and top class Laser Sailor.   As well as being an Olympic coach he is also a full time Laser coach concentrating on Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 club sailors.  He joined us for our practical test session in January and since then has carried out further tests both himself and using a variety of club sailors.  He has prepared a rigging guide.


The rule changes have now received ISAF’s final approval.  The builder supplied deck block plate that replaces the cunningham fairlead and cleat base are currently in production and are being distributed to dealers.  The builder supplied vang options are currently being tooled for production and will be available later this year.  Further details and pictures on these will be published on our website as they are released by the builders.

The deck block fitting, the deck cleat base and the builder supplied vang cleat fitting will be available separately.  Both Performance Sailcraft Europe and Vanguard Sailboats have indicated that they will offer pre-packed complete upgrade systems for each control which will include additional blocks and new control lines together with rigging instructions.


There are an infinite number of changes that could have been made.  Everyone has a different idea of what should be allowed and how to rig a particular system.  We have hopefully found a balance which meets the original reasons for the review of control systems, allows a measured upgrade path to suit all with easier to use control systems without significant expense.   

Jeff Martin

Executive Secretary


Adding blocks to whatever system you use significantly reduces the amount of friction so you can reduce the number of purchases for the same amount of effort to pull the control line.  Removing the friction also allows the control lines to release more easily. 

Note: the photographs show one of the prototypes of a builders supplied vang cleat.


4:1 system

Rope: 3.94 metres 5mm diameter

Fittings: 1 small single block

1.      Tie the end of a line to a small single block.   

2.      Pass the line through the cunningham cringle in the sail making sure that the block is on the nut side of the gooseneck fitting.

3.      Take the line down to the mast boom vang fitting. 

4.      Adjust the line so that the block is just below the gooseneck fitting. 

5.      Tie the line at the mast boom vang fitting. 

6.      Take the free end of the line back to the block and through it.

7.      Then take it back down to the deck and through the original cunningham fairlead or a block on the new deck block fitting.

8:1 system

Rope: 0.92 metres 3 mm diameter spectra core and 3.94 metres 5 mm diameter

Fittings: 2 small blocks

1.      Tie the end of a line (suggest spectron 12 or similar) to a small single block.

2.      Pass the line through the cunningham cringle in the sail making sure that the block is on the nut side of the gooseneck fitting.

3.      Take the line down to the mast boom vang fitting.

4.      Adjust the line so that the block is as close as possible to the cunningham cringle in the sail.

5.      Tie the line at the mast boom vang fitting.

6.      Take another small single block and tie it to the second 5mm line.  Pass the free end through the first block on the spectra core rope that the second block sits alongside the first block. 

7.      Cut off any spare line.

8.      Take second line and tie it to the mast boom vang fitting.

9.      Take the free end back to the second block and through it.  Make sure the two blocks are still sitting next to each other.

10.  Then take it back down to the deck and through the original cunningham fairlead or a block on the new deck block fitting.


Ropes: Clew tie down - 0.62 metres 3 mm spectra core, clew of sail inboard (primary part) 1.7 metres 3mm spectra core, from cleat bridge to primary part to gooseneck and deck (secondary part) 4.81 metres of 4mm, gooseneck block rope .62 metres 4mm, shockcord inhaul 1.02 metres 5mm.

Fittings: 1 small block with a hook attached, 2 small blocks.

1.      Dead end a block to the spectra core.

2.      Measure 9 inches/ 230 mm from the end of the block and tie a bowline loop, with the spectra core, around the boom. Make sure you can get two fingers between the boom and the loop.

3.      Take the non-block end of the spectra core rope and thread it through the outhaul fairlead on the boom.

4.      Pass the same end through the pulley on the hook block and take it back to the outhaul boom end fitting and tie it to this. This is the primary part.

5.      For the secondary part tie the end of the other rope to the bridge on the outhaul boom cleat.

6.      Take the other end of this rope and thread it through the block on the end of the spectra core rope.

This is how it should look.


When you have done this you will not have to do it again as it is left on the boom permanently.

7.      Now attach a block to the bottom mast at the gooseneck. Make sure the pulley sits at the bottom of the gooseneck fitting.

This fitting can be left on permanently and the rope is taped on so that ends of the rope are kept tidy and out of the way.

8.      Now we can attach the sail to the boom with the hook as shown.

9.      Put the boom on the gooseneck and pull the pink rope so that the pulley is pulled close to the outhaul cleat.

10.  Take the free end of the second rope and tie a bowline loop around the boom 4 inches 100 mm back from the boom vang fitting. Make sure you can get two fingers between the boom and the loop.

11.  Take the end of this rope and pass it over the top of the cunningham rope and thread it through the pulley on the mast down towards the deck.

12.  Finally tie the clew of the sail down with the short spectra core rope in the usual way. Remember to tie it very tight so that the bottom of the sail is as close as possible to the boom.


13.    To allow the outhaul to be let out with ease in light winds a piece of shock cord can be attached to the clew tie down. This is optional. Tie the shock cord to the clew tie down.

14.    Tie the other end of the shock cord to the outhaul boom cleat.