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RC Laser Setup tips

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Hi All Laser Sailors

Today one of our Skippers turned up with a RC Laser! As a club our base classes are IOM & Marblehead, since the pandemic hit the UK  we have mainly sailed IOM's as currently not many of our members own Marblehead's.

The question is can anyone assist with setup info as when I took a turn at the helm the boat was not balanced and I did not really know where to start as mast rake does not appear to be adjustable. I presume that sail camber and leach twist have to be right to obtain a controllable yacht. Any tips on starting settings for these and boom offset would be appreciated.

Absolutely hated sailing the Laser, have to assume a well setup version would possibly change my opinion! 

Appreciate any help as I know a few clubs sail only this class so I cannot believe they are as bad as this one appeared to be. Any info web sites would be also helpful.

Regards Eric 

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Hi Eric,

If the boat is set up properly with the correct choice of sail for the conditions then the Laser is a very entertaining proposition and provides one design fleet racing in a bomb-proof package.

Do not worry about mask rake per se. Mast bend is part of the equation. This is induced by the pocket luff of the sail and the amount of tension on the leech. Think of the sail in the similar way to a Marblehead swing rig sail. On the Laser rear-most boom slider has multiple jobs: of controlling leech shape, partly controlling the camber of the lower part of the sail and to a lesser extent influencing the mast bend.

Note that because  the mast is, by design, flexible (fibreglass) it reacts to the wind forces and gusts and will automatically de-power to some extent by flattening the sail and/or opening the leach.

So, as a starting point the rear slider should be positioned so as to allow the projected sheet angle beyond the clew to reach the mast at about half way up. The camber should be set with the inhaul slider, around three fingers deep. These are starting points with the sail set in a wind-filled state, on the water. It may not look like that on the bank on the ground and out of the wind due to the fact that the sail's clew is not in a fixed position.

Boom angle upwind: This is a monosail boat. If you pull it in towards the centreline like an IOM the boat will be very slow, luffy and go sideways bigtime. The boom needs to be angled so that it projects a line outside of the stern corner of the deck by roughly 20mm as a starting point. 

Upwind: Too much weather helm? - Increase the twist by moving the slider a little further out. This will also decrease the camber (and weatherhelm) as well, unless you wish to maintain it by easing the in-haul to compensate. Decreasing camber alone will also have some effect. Adjustments need to be quite small as they can have a significant effect. There is interplay between sail choice,  inhaul, twist and boom angle whereby a balanced upwind state can be achieved. As always practise and experience improve your outcomes. Compared to an IOM or other two sail classes you will probably find that you will want a touch more weatherhelm than them to achieve the best results but each skipper is different!

Downwind: The more important dictator of which sail to use is what happens downwind.  As with other classes if the bow is starting to dive its time to consider changing down to a smaller sail. Before that happens there is some 'between rigs' overlap between the sails as to which is fastest at certain windspeeds upwind and downwind. 

I often hear Lasers being maligned. People try one, often one that is poorly set up, maybe with the wrong sail on it for the conditions, find it a real handful in a good wind and dismiss it as a bad job with a slow winch. Lasers are bombproof. The hardware very rarely breaks - you don't have to worry about them. Once you have one the running costs are miserly. The winch is not an RMG, but it's extremely reliable and cheap as chips. Plus everyone else has exactly the same so you are at no disadvantage. In fact just one part of the skill and challenge of sailing a Laser is anticipating when to sheet in/out at bouy roundings, gusts and in traffic. They provide a fleet with a robust boat on a level playing field and of a size that makes them ok to see at that distant windward mark. Rigging takes about two minutes. Sail changes using separate rigs take seconds.

There is an art to sailing them fast. You have to pay them attention. They are involving as you really have to actively engage with them to sail them to their full potential. You can't treat it like a two sail boat that sails itself upwind while you think about what you want for tea. ( I'm ducking! ). It's the same downwind. And you have to do all this while doing all the strategy and tactics as normal.  I wonder if some people simply shy away from the challenge.

Well, we like them at Fleetwood. 

https://www.rclaser.org.uk/  as a starting point for more information.

I'm happy to answer any questions about them too.

Shaun Holbeche.



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Thanks for the above Shaun, May now have a better chance of getting a sailable setup on the boat. I presumed the slow winch was class compliant, as you say from sailing an IOM with super quick arm winch to the Hitec drum winch initially I was wondering if it was working!

Certainly had the boom sheeted to tight. Need to experiment with the two sliders for twist and camber.

Spent far to much effort on steering the boat both upwind and running.

I presume you are meant to set the winch drum position so you use all the revolutions of the winch , (Fully sheeted in set attachment point of sheet line close to bow?) As it was on the boat the elastic tension band and sail sheet was going round the drum and starting to pull sail in!

This is a whole new experience, not 100% certain will stick with it. Probably depends on the owner as she is a novice with an IOM so wonder if  she should stick with that class for some time, where the club Skippers can assist her with sail and boat setup.

I do hope to experiment with the Laser again however now with a little more knowledge.

Thanks again Eric

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Eric, to address the points you raise:

" Spent far to much effort on steering the boat both upwind and running. "

Upwind you now know why that is. Downwind, the boat will tend to want to luff up a little because the sail is to leeward of the hull and there is no jib goose-winged to help balance it. It will be exacerbated if there is some flow across the sail from the mast to the leech and then further increased if a larger camber is set . In a full size Laser the helm can shift his/her weight to heel the boat and change the underwater shape of the boat, thereby inducing a turning moment to counter the sail. We can't do that of course !

One trick that the Laser skipper can do that is hardly ever practised with intent by two sail model yacht skippers is running by the lee. It takes some practise to do well but it will almost guarantee straight running. However it's real use is more for tactical advantage. It's not something your novice sailor should be concerned with though.

" I presume you are meant to set the winch drum position so you use all the revolutions of the winch , (Fully sheeted in set attachment point of sheet line close to bow?) As it was on the boat the elastic tension band and sail sheet was going round the drum and starting to pull sail in! "

Correct, or at least most of the winches' capacity. In addition the end point for fully out should finish up with the sheet line attachment point not too far from the deck eye. This should mean that the boom can, if needed, be eased a little beyond perpendicular to the hull centre line, which can help with running by the lee in more extreme circumstances. As I said though, not something that your novice should worry about.

Have fun with it !



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Shaun has explained perfectly about setting up the Laser sail.     Oversheeting upwind is your enemy!!


after sailing / racing R/C Lasers for about 20 years and being luckyy enough to win 2 Nationals, I still find setting the sail mto get a nice curve in the leech a bit of a dark art!!


BUT is a fleet of about 15 they are a great challenge.   Also they're almost unbreakable, so great value for money!!


Enjoy your Laser.

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Thanks all for your responses. I am now better prepared for my next encounter with a laser and almost looking forward to the challenges. Looks like I may need a little time on the bank tinkering with winch drum and sheet line.

Saltire, problem with the web site you indicated is that I don't actually own a Laser and it appears to register you need a yacht as well as paying a fee.

All information gratefully received.

Thanks Eric 


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If I was to look at acquiring a Laser what would you expect to pay for a boat with all the rigs? (New or preowned, don't recall seeing one for sale on this site)

Another problem being there does not appear to be a club in the Midland District that sails this class. I don't know if any dinghy venues sail these for recreational purposes, not sure how you could check that out. If anyone can help with a venue it would be appreciated.

 Watched some u-tube racing and they appear to sail much better than expected after my initial toddler steps!

Not certain if it was the battery pack past its sell by date or is the yacht power hungry? It did not manage a mornings sailing on a 5 cell rechargeable 'AA' pack.

Will try again with the boat when available.


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They turn up on a regular basis. I just did a quick search and found this used one for sale on Facebook. Looks a good deal for the asking price of £395. Everything you need. Even includes a radio. That's fairly typical. Secondhand you are talking £300 - £450 depending on the condition, number of rigs and extras such as a bag, stand, Tx, Rx, batteries, spares etc.


I don't know of any clubs in the Midlands sailing Lasers at the moment though I know one or two Laser owners in the Midlands. Perhaps you could start them at your club as your one design class? If you get a handful in the club then run an open meeting and publicise it. You will get entries, and advice from experienced skippers on the day.

A five cell AA 2200 - 2400mAh should last all day. A morning or afternoon of sailing will use something like 950-1100mA worth of recharge, so less than that of actual capacity.


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