Measurement Q & A

What are these questions about?

These questions have been posed by sailors wanting clarification, either on the ILCA Rules or on the ISAF RRS as they apply to the Laser. My reply here may be the one I gave to the sailor.

I am sometimes slightly incorrect, occasionally just plain wrong. If you know better, please email me and I'll post a correction. I don't know everything, and I'm still learning after more than 30 years of sailing Lasers.

Are Measurement Certificates required by the Laser Class?

The answer is No. The Laser 'Measurement Certificate' merely states that PSE / Laser Performance built your boat, and is valueless as a document for scrutineering purposes. I can't even remember whether my 'new' boat came with one in 2002.

The Laser 'measures' when it leaves the factory, and it is rare for any unused and unaltered boat or component to fail scrutineering. The whole manufacturing process, and even some manufacturing tolerances, has been tightened up since the Laser became an Olympic boat.

Measurement and scrutineering at Laser events is mainly concerned with how you have rigged your Laser, and how you might have 'improved' it. Any significant manufacturing deviations from the norm revealed by measurement are reported back to ILCA and thence to the manufacturer.

When do ILCA Rule changes come into effect?

Thanks to Max Robinson for asking this one.
ILCA Rule changes have to be approved by vote of ILCA members (including you and me) after being agreed by all Laser builders. The changes are then submitted to ISAF for approval as the Laser is an International (and now Olympic) Class. So it may be a little while yet before you can legitimately use the set of changes that will allow you to use Velcro to stop the front of your centreboard slot wearing out.

The last changes that were approved were released for use in February 2008. As the voting form was published in Laser World in March 2007, you can work out for yourself roughly how long it will be before you can use the new rule changes, provided of course that they are approved.

Changes to the Rules by ILCA

There is a type of rule change that does not require a vote by the membership. This is where World Council approves an equipment change to 'Builder-Suppplied' equipment. The new centreboard friction brake and the new Harken traveller blocks come into this category.

The new centreboard brake has been incorporated in the Rules; the new traveller blocks have not. I have been assured that a rule change for these blocks is not needed: I'm not sure that this is true, for these blocks have to remain an optional change, and should be defined as Builder-Supplied alternatives to the Standard blocks, which must remain legal.

I have seen a set of the new Harken blocks, and they have been designed to be exactly the same dimensions as the existing ones, though they are probably lighter. The traveller block swivels slightly at the mid-joint, so you will still need to tape it up to make the while thing rigid enough to prevent it snagging when you gybe. All in all I'm not sure I want to pay 74.95 to replace a set of four blocks that costs 23.80, even though the top pulleys have bearings. Worse, if the bottom pulley fails (it does not have bearings) you'll have to replace the entire traveller-block.

At the Masters Nationals one sailor reported that the new traveller blocks track towards the centre-line more easily than the old blocks. Has anyone else found this problem?

Where can I stick personal sponsorship / advertising on a Laser?

You are allowed to place personal sponsorship advertising on a Laser hull behind a line 1.2 metres from the front of the hull. (25% of the hull-length is approx 1.05m, therefore the minimum distance of 1.2 metres applies.) The front 1.2 metres is reserved for event sponsorship and competitor hull numbers allocated by the Race Committee, but it hasn't prevented Laser Performance from sticking their Laser symbol ISAF-illegally onto the hull within this front 1.2 metres. Maybe they've changed their ways recently. If your Laser has these Laser symbols at the bow an event organiser can legitimately demand that you remove them; this happened at the UK Youth Champs a few years back.

Sponsors' material on the sail is slightly more complex to understand, but simple in principle. You are allowed to place personal advertising on the sail provided that it does not interfere with the spaces reserved for identification by Appendix G of the Racing Rules and under Regulations 20.5 & 20.9. ISAF Regulations 20.5 and 20.9 only apply in the Laser Class for 20.9,1 (a) 1 (Sailmaker\s Mark), but the provisions of Appendix G of the RRS do apply. Therefore leave space on your sail for these items:


It is also advisable to leave the space above the top-batten reserved for the diamond shape for female sailors , even if you're male.

Leave plenty of space around these items to prevent confusion. One place for a sponsor's mark is between the lower set of sail numbers and the national letters, or below the national letters. Keeping your marks away from the front of the sail reduces your chances of being 'spotted' on the line. Sponsors' marks do tend to stand out. Of course you would rather be behind the line than jeopardise your start with a logo, wouldn't you?
photo courtesy Chris Burrows

Conflicting sponsors

Something I was not aware of until I looked up the ISAF Regs to answer this question, is that "the Organizing Authority of an event may not reject or cancel the entry of a boat or exclude a competitor because that boat's or competitor's advertising is or may be in conflict with the Advertising or sponsor of that event".

Matters used to be the other way around, so that if the event was sponsored by Ford I would have had to use another sail if the organisers object to my sail with AUDI plastered all over it. ISAF has shown rare sense to realise that one cannot just insist that a competitor buy another sail because an event sponsor objects. While not vastly expensive to a Laser owner, it would be ruinous for a Sigma owner.

Can I use an iPhone 3G S afloat?

Not while racing you can't. It has an inbuilt electronic compass which makes it illegal. And someone has designed an app for calculating all sorts of sailing speed stuff. Great idea, but not for Lasers. Next question.