November 16, 2012

Keep it Level

By Doug
Someone asked me a question that I thought was strange. "It's been suggested that I put a level on my Laser... where would you suggest I put it?"

You know, a level used by carpenters. I guessed that this was the result of a discussion about keeping a Laser flat. But were they talking about flat vs. heeling? Or keeping the transom out of the water? With so few surfaces on a Laser that are level to begin with, where would you put it? And how would you read it without moving closer and changing the heel/trim before you could read it?

Way too complex for my little brain.

Here's a much simpler suggestion: let a small amount of water into the cockpit and then keep track of it during a race... in the middle as much as possible to keep the boat flat, on the leeward side when it's very light so that gravity helps keep the shape of the sail, and on the windward side when there are no waves and you want to dig in your centerboard to get more lift. I like to get my Laser going and then look at the back of the cockpit to see if the water is where I think it is.

That's the in-and-out trim. Fore-and-aft trim is easy and does not require any water. Just keep your weight as far forward in the cockpit as comfortably possible until other factors become important. Like having to hike or having to work your Laser over the waves.

So much simpler.


  1. I've been trying moving further forward downwind in lighter air. Normally I sit one knee forward and beside the centerboard. But you can move forward another 6-8" if you push further forward almost on top of the centerboard.

    It seems to really help get over the waves and lift the transom. Worth trying.


    1. Great point.

      I should have mentioned in my post that this is for going upwind. Reaching and running require other techniques, and there are lots of people who are better at this than me.

  2. Hi Doug, no need for a level. Just check your compass.


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