ISAF Approves New Laser Rigging

Late last week, the International Sailing Federation approved a long-awaited set of rigging changes for the Laser. The changes, which will allow sailors to alter the boom vang, cunningham, and outhaul, are intended to make the boat easier to sail, especially for lighter sailors, and open up the competitive weight range of the boat. The rule changes, the text of which is available on the North American Laser Class Association website (, went into effect today.

While many Laser sailors were dead set against any changes they felt might alter the delicate balance of the boat, and would cost more money, the updates did have some powerful allies, including designer Bruce Kirby, who drew the lines for the boat in 1969.

"When I first saw the way they increasing the purchase by simply running one line though another," says Kirby, "I thought, ’That’s not the way to do it. Why don’t we take a deep breath and put the proper fittings on the boat now and get on with it.’"

"When the boat first came on the market, we didn’t know that an exceptional amount of vang would be needed. It wasn’t until we got the boom strengthened up enough to take the strain that it be came appropriate to put the stresses and strains on that we do nowadays."

The boom vang is probably the most significant change. Sailors will now be allowed to manufacture a vang with two lines and up to seven turning points, which can now be blocks instead of loops of line. The base block and cleat has to come through the builder, but now sailors will have a choice of using the original block, or one of two more modern block systems with pivoting cleats.

By replacing the cunningham lead at the base of mast with a plate with attachments for two blocks and the cunningham cleat with a cleat base-both of these new parts much be purchased from a Laser builder-sailors will now be able to lead the cunningham and outhaul to the deck. The cunningham can have three control lines and five turning points while the outhaul can be made up of two lines and six turning points.

There is no requirement that Laser skippers update their current rigging, the original set-up will still be class legal. However, because the cunningham clam cleat is being replaced in the new set-up by a cam cleat-which won’t automatically cleat if the line begins to run out-all Laser racers will have to tie a piece of line or shock cord from the deck plate or cunningham fairlead around the vang attachment on the mast. This will prevent the mast from falling out in the event of a capsize.