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The Laser Book: Laser Sailing From Start To Finish

The Laser Book: Laser Sailing From Start To Finish

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The Laser Book: Laser Sailing From Start To Finish

355 pagine
1 ora
Sep 12, 2017


The Laser is the world’s most popular adult dinghy and comes with three rigs: Standard (used by men at the Olympic games), Radial (used by women at the Olympic games) and 4.7 (used by young people moving up from the Optimist). But the boat is not restricted to top athletes; its versatility means that it is an ideal boat for beginners and club racers too. Lasers can be found at nearly every sailing club throughout the world. Targeted at the club sailor, The Laser Book covers the techniques and skills needed to succeed in Laser sailing, for those starting out through to those striving to win their Club Championship. Whether you are a youngster moving up to a 4.7 or a club sailor looking to improve your results, expert advice from author Tim Davison, plus contributions from Laser gold medallists, world champions and their coaches, will take your Laser sailing to the next level. Beginning with setting up the boat, Davison takes you through your early sailing experiences and caring for your Laser. Developing your skills on all points of sailing, you will then be introduced to race tuning and racing itself. This is detailed for all three Laser rigs, including the new Mk2 Standard sail. Over 350 photographs show you exactly how it’s done and 50 diagrams illustrate key boat parts, the different points of sailing and complex on-the-water scenarios with clarity. Whatever your background, your current level or the extent of your ambition, this book gives you all the tools you need to get out on the water and improve your Laser sailing.
Sep 12, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

Tim Davison is a highly experienced sailor. He has been Laser (Masters) European and National Champion and British Moth National Champion. He is the author of over 10 sailing books, including the best-selling Laser Book and Racing: A Beginner’s Guide.

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The Laser Book - Tim Davison




If you’re looking at this book, I can only assume that you have a Laser or are interested in sailing one. You’ve made a great choice! I’ve been sailing Lasers since 2001 and am still hooked. From my early days in the Radial, competing in youth championships and then the ISAF (now World Sailing) Youth Championships, through to sailing in World Championships and the Olympics, I still get a buzz out of sailing a Laser. The great thing is that we all have the same equipment and compete on completely level terms – it is up to the sailor to get the results!

Even if you don’t have ambitions to be a professional sailor, you still have the same equipment as I do and you still need to learn to use it to best advantage, and that is where this book comes in. Tim Davison, who was sailing Lasers and winning Laser championships before I was born, provides an indispensable, solid foundation which takes you from your first trip in a Laser to competing at a serious level.

Despite Tim’s longevity with the boat, this book is bang up to date, with the new Mk 2 sail and top section, and Jon Emmett’s involvement means that you have the input from a gold medal winning Laser Radial coach (and world champion in his own right) to speed you on your way!

The wonderful thing about Laser sailing is that it is not just for professional athletes. I got into the class straight from Optimists; with the 4.7 rig this is an even more natural transition. You can then graduate to the Laser Radial and then the Standard rig if that is appropriate for you. Likewise, at the other end of the age spectrum, the Masters categories allow older sailors, of either gender, compete against their contemporaries.

So go out and enjoy your Laser sailing! Armed with this book your understanding of the techniques will grow and your results will improve. I thoroughly recommend it.

Good luck and I hope to see you out on the water!

Nick Thompson

Laser World Champion 2015, 2016

2nd Laser World Championships 2010, 3rd Laser World Championships 2009

ISAF (now World Sailing) Laser World Cup Winner 2009

ISAF (now World Sailing) Laser Youth World Champion 2005

Laser Radial Youth European Champion 2002

Optimist European Champion 1999

Young Sailor of the Year 1999, 2005

Jon Emmett and Olympic gold medallist Lijia Xu at the photoshoot at Weymouth, the 2012 Olympic venue


Welcome to the sixth edition of The Laser Book!

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a club racer, this manual was written to help you get into top gear. I’ve tried hard to answer the key questions while keeping the book logical and lively. And I have tried out the ideas, both on the racecourse and when coaching. They do work!

The first two parts of the book are relevant for all Laser rigs and we include photos of both the Standard and Radial rig, although any settings given are for the Standard rig. Then the third part of the book covers the elements specific to the 3 different rigs: Standard, Radial and 4.7.

My overall objective is that, once you’ve mastered the ideas in the book, you should be able to win a club championship. If you want to go further, right up to Olympic standard, then the books in the Sail to Win series build on these principles.

This new edition is right up-to-date. The Standard rig has a new Mk 2 sail and I have been using one all season. I think it’s brilliant! There is also a new composite top mast which is stiffer than the aluminium mast, but is not as prone to bending and needing to be straightened, which will be a real bonus for Radial sailors!

We have re-shot most of the Standard rig photos, with UK Laser Class Association Training Officer Jon Emmett in front of the camera. The Standard rig settings are now all for the Mk 2 sail and new top mast, and they are summed up in the chart on p102-3.

Of course there are still a lot of Mk 1 sails in use, and I have pointed out the slight differences on p101.

The Radial elements have also undergone a major revision, with new photos of 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist Lijia Xu and new data from her and her coach, Jon Emmett.

Matilda Nicholls, one of the UK’s up-and-coming young female sailors, who was the Under 16 Girls European Champion, provided me with information on the 4.7.

Jon Emmett has provided valuable input into all aspects of the book and I am very grateful to him for his contribution. I am also very grateful to all my Laser sailing friends at Oxford Sailing Club and particularly Alan Davis, for explaining how he goes so fast, and Chris Pinner, a light wind expert.

Together, we have tried to give you the best possible introduction to the fabulous world of Laser sailing. You too will probably become hooked on sailing the boat, on racing a strict one-design, and on making friends with other Laser sailors – all round the world.

Now, as they say, it’s up to the nut on the end of the tiller. Let’s rig up and get out on the racecourse!

Tim Davison

PS In this book I refer to ‘helmsman’ and ‘he’ but, of course, the Laser (and especially the Radial and 4.7 rigs) is not restricted to men. ‘Helmswoman’ and ‘she’ is implied throughout.




The Laser is beautifully simple. It has the minimum number of parts, each carefully designed to do a specific job.

When you first get the boat you’ll need to set up the control lines, the toestrap and so on. You only have to do these things once, so it’s worth spending a bit of time on them. There are also a few tricks you can do ashore to make life easier when you finally go afloat.


If you need a painter, tie a three-metre length of rope to the plastic eye near the bow. This is long enough for mooring and for towing the boat. Tie the loose end round the mast when sailing. When being towed, take the rope from the mast to the towboat – the bow eye is too weak to use.


Lasers are now supplied with a self-bailer fitted. If yours hasn’t got one you should fit one. It gets rid of water more quickly than the bailing hole; the only thing to remember is to push it up when coming ashore, or it will be broken on the beach.

You normally sail with the bung pulled off and pushed under the grabrail (see below) or in your lifejacket pocket. However, if the wind drops, push the bung back onto the rod. The positioning is critical: slide it on far enough so that it seals the hole when you push the whole lot aft. But don’t slide it back so far that it restricts bailing when you pull the whole lot forward.

The bung pushed under the grabrail


The gooseneck bolt needs tightening after every few outings. Tighten it so there is no wobbling sideways – this helps prevent the gooseneck bending.


Many choose to have a burgee (flag) at the top of the mast. The burgee must be balanced properly, or it will give misleading information when the boat heels. To balance a burgee, hold it with the stick horizontal: if the flag itself flops downwards, wind tape around the balance wire to give it more weight. When it is balanced, the burgee will stay level when you hold it horizontally.

Put tape around the middle and bottom of the burgee stick. When you push it into the sail sleeve at the front or back of the mast, the tape will stop the burgee sliding around.

Alternatively, you may choose a wind indicator.

Burgee at the top of the mast

A wind indicator can be fitted to the bow eye or to the mast

This can be taped to the bow eye, though this type can get whipped off by someone’s mainsheet. I have come to like the Hawk indicator attached to the mast in front of the boom, which is sensitive and in the helmsman’s line of sight.


These should only be used when you need a free hand for something else. At other times the centre ratchet block will take most of the mainsheet’s load, particularly if you have the kicking strap (vang) tight. You may even decide not to screw on the side cleats. But if you do, align them like this:

•Fore-and-aft: the centre of the jaws in line with the end of the grab rail.

•Sideways: the screws should go through the join between the smooth fibreglass and the non-slip surface.


The rudder can fall out if the boat turns upside down. It doesn’t float, so make sure that the rudderstop holds it in place. If not, loosen the screws and adjust the rudderstop. Also, use a split ring through the top pintle to prevent the rudder dropping off.

The rudder downhaul can be fed straight to the cleat. However, having the rudder fully down is absolutely essential to minimise weather helm and therefore many people put purchases into the downhaul to ensure it is fully down.

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