Monday, October 14, 2013

Laser improvements

There's a new Laser out. It has a new feature that's big to sailors, tiny to cruisers and insignificant for landlubbers and almost invisible to all of us. It's not in the boat. It's in the sail, and it's one of those things that make virtual sailing just a littlebit better and closer to the real thing. It's a working telltail.
Setting sail in Puerto de Malla
So far the Laser has had the looks. Beautifully crafted hull, mast and sail with loads of details such as lines, blocks, cleats and other fittings. Now comes the brains. Not that it will sail by itself, but it will provide the visual feedback needed to enable an even better virtual sailing experience. It will make it easier for everyone to sail.
Looking at telltails
We've been missing a working telltail from the beginning of the Laser. Yes, they were there from the start, but they weren't quite working. They were just painted in the sails. Now, after months of dangerous experiments in the lab, Dutch is finally able to release a working telltail. It's the super classic model: Round dot of black tape and five inches of red wool.
Doesn't get much better than this
Yes, it has to be wool. Wool doesn't stick to the sail; Not even if it is soaked. Not a big problem for the two of us on this particular day. Outside the beautiful Puerto De Malla the ocean was quite calm. We only had a bit of seaspray. However, in a race, you need just just one misread gust, and you're in the drink. Next thing you know, you have defunkt telltails. Maybe just for 3 minutes, but that's when the other guys take off in a 3 degree shift you didn't see, because your telltails were glued to the sail.
See the islands
See? Flat! I am not entirely sure how much wave action the Laser supports, but I will get back to you on that. Promise. For now, I am just glad to see a telltail. Not that it's the first. The Flying Fizz has had telltails since 2008, maybe even before that. The Bolero was one of the first boats to pick that up. You'd think it was in every boat from there on, but no. Not even the supermodern virtual Nacra17  has telltails.
More talk about telltails
However, this is a start. We are moving away from the days of hud based sailing, where sailing was done by staring at numbers on the hud. No more looking at text that is green, when trim is good. Now we just need to get the telltails right.

The starboard telltail should be (always) green at located like 5 inches above the other one, which is (always) red by the way. You need to be able to differ between the two - even with the sun behind the sail. Why? If you're sailing too high the windward telltail will point upwards or flutter. If your're sailing too low the windward telltail eventually will flutter. However, the leeward telltail begins to flutter when the trim is off by a few degrees. Voila! Trimming made easy; Even better: Those telltails are in the lower front quarter of the jib. That's where you should be looking anyway; Forwards. Truely amazing huh? And better yet, it runs without batteries...


  1. Can you see/read the leeward tell tail through the sail cloth as in RL? Next step a working mast head fly to read downwind?

  2. Yes, I can see the leeward tail through the sail. That's why I want the SB tail a bit higher up. I'll try to capture that on a pic. However, I am unsure if the lee tail makes any sense to read on the Laser. More on that too in a future post.


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