Updated Cunningham System for the laser MKII Sail


The article originally on International Sailing Academy  and was later translated to Spanish on Laserista .

The Laser MKII sail brings many new changes with it and in this article we will discuss a rigging system for the cunningham to allow you to use the control to it’s full capacity. The increased weight of the new sail cloth makes applying the cunningham more resistant as compared to the MKI sail, therefore the conventional rigging system will need to be updated.

The change in the rigging is going to be the additional purchases added to the system. The popular 6:1 purchase used on the MKI sail proved to be powerful enough to pull the grommet to the boom and allowed minimal slack of the control line in the cockpit. The MKII will require a 8:1 purchase and due to the higher position of the gromet on the sail one will not be able to pull it down to the boom.

The increased weight of the new sail cloth makes applying the cunningham more resistant as compared to the MKI sail

Starting with the cunningham primary line we will attach it to the top of the vang on the removable pin (line is spliced in photos but bowline knot is sufficient). Taking the line up and passing it through the grommet we will then attach the first block (we recommend the Harken T2 block or similar style pulleys, in total you will need three for this system). The block should be as close to the grommet as possible without putting any tension on the luff of the sail when it is “max off” setting, this will ensure you have the full ability to put on as much cunningham as necessary.

Secondly we will attach a second T2 block below the one that is fastened to the cunningham primary line. The knot used to fasten the two blocks together is found on the packaging and is referred to as a “soft attach”.

The final block attachment takes place at the bottom of the mast directly below the vang tang fitting. In order to make it as tight as possible to the mast one end is spliced to the block and the other end has a loop. After going around the mast feed the block through the loop creating soft shackle. Again, splicing is not necessary but makes for a tight fit and a clean look, and is also stronger than a knot.

From here attach the cunningham secondary line (with either a splice or a bowline) through the eye of the block attached below the vang tang. Then taking the line up and feeding it through the front side (facing towards the bow) of the bottom block on the cunningham primary, then back down to the vang tang block, up through the top block and then home to the deck blocks. This may require a few attempts to make it look straight but should be worked out quite easily.

Having tried a few different rigging systems with the new sail we landed on this one as the most effective and clean. Due the the extra purchase in the system there is extra line that will float around in the cockpit but this system will help minimize the clutter and allow you to get as much of that powerful cunningham as you need!

Why top sailors train on the bike

An article that I wrote on the benefits of road cycling and laser sailing.  First appeared on International Sailing academy and was republished on Scuttlebut Sailing News

It’s no secret that the majority of Laser sailors use cycling as a method of cross training for the boat. The demand for fitness in the Laser is essential to sail consistently fast but why do so many turn to cycling, and more specifically road biking?

In this article I will discuss the main benefits road biking has had on my sailing since getting my first ride almost two years ago.

Like many athletes I have a strength and conditioning program that includes a substantial amount of cardio. Most of it takes the form of rowing on the erg, running, or interval training on the stationary bike. While I saw my aerobic capacity increase from this style of training it wasn’t until I decided to get my first road bike that I would see my conditioning and awareness significantly improve in the boat.

It is almost instantaneously noticeable in the boat.

The first and most obvious place I noticed its effectiveness surrounded the demands on the quadriceps. Before the road bike I was able to maintain a solid hiking posture but when I was done, I was done and the boat would come to a halt when I sat up. The conditioning I received from cycling allowed me to drop into a 80% mode of hiking for a “break” and then back into proper form.

I attribute this to that point you reach while cycling when you “explode” from pedalling too hard. I would take a break by slowing down to recover and then get back on pace again. Note: you still need to push through pain barriers when hiking and cycling to increase your stamina and pain threshold. On the bike however if you take a break you will not get run over by a fleet of boats and you are allowing for recovery to keep riding, the focus is fitness on the bike, not winning.

What I have described above is very similar to the idea interval training. However the beautiful thing about the bike is that it almost happens naturally over the course of a ride. While there is a need for specific interval training it is far more enjoyable to spend two hours on the road than on a stationary bike staring at a clock. When you are on the bike I find you become more present in the task at hand. Your entire focus lies on the section of road you are on or the effort you are putting into the hill you are climbing not agonizing over the time on the watch.

The conditioning I received from cycling allowed me to drop into a 80% mode of hiking for a “break” and then back into proper form.

With any activity there is an associated risk and cycling is no exception. The speeds that you travel at in close proximity to moving vehicles can be deterring for some. However with every risk there is a reward. I immediately became more aware of my surroundings and was forced into constantly surveying what was in my periphery. This skill is paramount when sailing as you can quickly take yourself out of a race by not seeing the wind coming in on the other side of the course. I notice when I am cycling frequently that I become unconsciously more vigilant about surveying the race course on the water.

Road biking is not for everyone and by no means the only answer to fitness for the Laser. One thing I can say for certain is that it provides a steep learning curve and the conditioning you receive from it is almost instantaneously noticeable in the boat. Furthermore it takes the monotony out of dry land training and is an excellent escape to clear your head.