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Dec 29, 2020 |
Coaching, Archive (2008 - 2021),  |

Laser control lines part 1: Outhaul

In this mini-series of articles, we shall be looking at the main sail controls for the Laser. Now whilst some things are personal preference such as, do you prefer an oval or cylindrical tiller extension, there is always a best way of doing things or at the very least an appropriate way to find the best individual solution for you.

We will start with the Outhaul system perhaps because it is often the most neglected control line and it really shouldn’t be. Indeed, in the dim and distance past long before the advent of the XD control lines we have now, the Outhaul was just ran along the boom to the cleat and many people didn’t adjust it all day or at most adjusted it once a leg!

Laser Outhaul

When considering the configuration of the main moving block in the Outhaul there are 3 main methods:


  • Blocks at the front of course gives you the advantage that you can see what is going on. Even on the downwind legs the vast majority of our focus needs to be forward because you can feel the wind, but you need to see the waves to respond to them. The disadvantage is it means the blocks for both the Downhaul and Outhaul are very close together meaning although unlikely, they could interfere with each other, especially in those conditions where the Downhaul is rigged one side.


  • A block in the middle would be my preference. The fixed and moving block are clearly visible but in a position near the maximum depth in the sail (the “draft”) and therefore unlikely to be tangled with anything. We have different rope for different functions, whether it is low stretch and slippery or designed to go in the cleats. Here the difference is clear with one type of rope at the back of the boom and the other at the front. To increase the life, you can also end for end the ropes (swap them round) as there are some key points which will wear more than others.


  • Block at the end of the boom keeps everything well separated although it is harder to see and it means you have a very long forward line. If at some point the blocks at the back somehow get stuck this line can go slack and cause problems as its droops down below the boom (and possibly tries to hang you in the middle of a tack). As a general principle having each piece of rope a similar length makes a great deal of sense to me.


As a general principle we want the Outhaul to be as short as possible but long enough to allow maximum range of movement. Each control line should be a different colour, so as to avoid confusion “in the heat of battle”. Handles need to be large enough so that they cannot “go through” the mainsheet block and large enough for you to be able to get your hand in them comfortably!


For bespoke control lines I have no hesitation in recommending my sponsor SouthEast Sailboats

Jon Emmett has over 20 years of coaching experience from grass roots to Olympic Gold.