September 06, 2015

Duct Tape - Is There Anything It Cannot Do?

By Doug
There are many ways that we use duct tape on a Laser boom.

Around the gooseneck prevents the cunningham from getting jammed... 

Around the vang key prevents it from falling out...

As a quick repair kit (saved my butt in a race at the 1991 Worlds in Greece)...

I've even seen people tape a banana to their boom.

But as I get older, there's one more use that I have just figured out. When the vang is really cranked in, I'm finding it harder and harder to get under the boom when I tack and my mainsheet sometimes gets caught behind me on my life jacket. In fact, tipping because of this cost me a first place at a local event last year.

So here's one more use - make this...

...and put it here...

But is this legal? I checked with the Laser Class Chief Measurer Jean-Luc Michon at the recent Kingston Worlds. He said yes, it's perfectly legal.
Awesome coach Rulo from Cabarete with Jean-Luc.
So, no more getting caught under the boom... and one less thing to worry about as I get older!

Update #1: I've never used this in a regatta but was curious to learn more, so I asked the ILCA to officially rule on this during measurement at the 2016 Worlds. It was one "not sure" and one "no." So after a deliberation, the ruling was officially "no, as this use of duct tape creates another fitting."

Update #2: Jean-Luc contacted me and said that this was a misunderstanding as this would be considered to be a new fitting under Rule 42. Thanks for the update.


  1. Haha, it's wonderful stuff for sure, and the endless uses for it have created many a laugh. I've seen boat names written on a strip of duct tape stuck to charter boats, but this one is pretty cool:

    1. It look fast on starboard tack... I wonder how long it lasted on port!

  2. I am sure Jean-Luc is right but can anyone point me to where in the Rules they permit the addition of this extra loop of tape to hold the mainsheet up?

    I can't see anything about it in 3(c) Mainsheet. Rule 18 Boom doesn't seem to specifically allow it. And Rule 24 Tape and Line doesn't seem to cover it either. What am I missing?

  3. Mmm, I'm surprised it's legal too. I prefer to wear a bib over my PFD to prevent hookups on the boom. Rule 24 modified: Tape and Line. The use of flexible adhesive tape or similar or line is permitted to secure shackle pins and clips, and to bind sheets, control lines and rigging, except that tape or line shall not be used to construct new fittings or modify the function of existing fittings.

  4. It's pretty bad when even the chief measurer of a class doesn't know the class rules.

  5. I'm not saying Jean-Luc is wrong. And certainly not saying he doesn't know the rules. I am assuming there is some other rule or interpretation of a rule that I am missing that explains why this new fitting is legal.

    I just want to understand his logic.

  6. I'm a bit bemused like you Tillerman.

    In addition, Rule 18b specifies how the soft strap may be fixed and it also specifies a maximum width or 26mm. The strap in Doug's pic is clearly wider.

    18.b: The stainless steel mainsheet eye strap between the two blocks on the boom may be replaced with a soft strap. The maximum width of the soft strap shall be 26mm. The soft strap shall only be fixed to the boom using the holes drilled by the builder as shown in the diagram below.

    1. Exactly Bruce. Why have a rule like this at all if it's also legal to make extra soft straps and stick them anywhere you like?

  7. Perhaps Doug needs to send this post (or a picture) to Jean-Luc and ask again. I've found that asking questions of someone at a busy regatta might lead to misunderstandings as to what was asked or what was answered. Plus Doug speaks Canadian-Aussie English and Jean-Luc is French. I've seen email communications between the two. Amusing and easy to see how there might be some misunderstandings. fyi ... Doug did not sail with this duct tape strap in Kingston.

  8. I don't know.....the same measurer said my water bottle bungee was legal then 40 seconds later said it was not legal. Remember if it is not specifically allowed it is illegal.

    Scott Pakenham

    1. Yes, I know. I was surprised too with his answer.

    2. ...but the rules don't specifically allow or disallow current uses of duct tape. Definitely a grey area (no pun intended).


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