Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flip-flop Laser Centerboard Handle?

There are many ways to rig a Laser, but here is something that I don’t recall seeing before. I’ve been trying a “flip-flop” centerboard handle to help with access and organization of the three Laser sail shape control lines (vang, cunningham, and outhaul). The main idea is to keep the lines close to the gunnel for easy access while hiking. If it happens to be flipped to the wrong (leeward) side, it’s pretty easy to very briefly lean in to flip it to windward.

The flip-flop handle is easily made by folding over some 7 mm line twice so that the shaft is composed of three lines with a triangular cross section. Wrapping with several layers of plastic tape results in an appropriate degree of stiffness. One end of the handle is attached to the centerboard using a hole near the top aft corner. The three control lines are tied to the free end of the handle. It’s about 24 inches long. I believe it should be class-legal.

So far I’ve used it on a couple of race days at a great local club in Duxbury, Massachusetts. It seems to be working out pretty well. Besides the easy access while hiking, it tends to keep the excess line away from the main sheet block which otherwise can be easily jammed. If the control lines become tangled on the deck, a quick whip motion of the handle helps to free them up. When you are positioned aft while sailing downwind, access for the adjustments just before rounding the leeward mark is also improved by angling the handle a bit aft.

If you think it might be helpful, give it a try.