The Laser Project

Ok, so I have too many boats... Problem is, with all these boats, I ain't sailing any of them!!!  Needing inspiration and a little motivation to keep going with Contadanza, I have bought a cheap Laser to remind myself what I am doing all this for!  The Laser was on ebay down in Stoke on Trent, and was going for a very reasonable price considering it had a fully working and good condition road base, launching trolley, top cover etc...  Everything was there that I needed to sail it immediately, although the boat had a problem with its hull to deck joint.  The boat had also been painted at one point in its life.  None of this worried me.  There is seldom anything wrong with a composite boat that cannot be fixed!

So after driving and trailering a total of 800 miles to get this thing (still works out cheaper!) I started a brief renovation of the Laser.  I got the boat upside down and adapted a camping mattress inflator onto the drain bung, and blew air into the boat.  I then went round the gunwale with soapy water and a sponge, identifying leaks.  This method proved entirely effective, and I narrowed the damage down to 2 or 3 specific areas, namely the bow, and under the gunwales where the typical Laser launch trolley supports the boat.

The next step in the process was to let the boat dry out, then I adapted the vacumn cleaner hose onto the drain bung, and run the vacumn cleaner for 20 mins to draw air through all the big holes.  While this was happening I prepared some thickened polyester resin, using fumed silica for the thickening agent.  With the vacumn still running I then trowelled the resin into the voids and holes, whereupon the vacumn managed to draw the resin deep into the void.  I had used a highly catalysed polyester so it would set up quickly, and indeed this happened within 10 mins, all the while I was adding more resin as it was drawn in.  Once I felt I had successfully pugged the boat I stopped the vacumn and let things cure in the sun for half a day.  then I repeated the blowing/soapy water routine to ensure I had hit all the leaks as required.  Minor sanding then finished the area off.

I then turned the boat the right way up and removed all the deck fittings.  After a quick sanding with 80 grit on the old ugly pain I rolled on 2 coats of International Interdeck Beige, which made the boat look 100 times better.  I will leave the hull for now in the interests of going sailing, although a hull repaint is on the agenda at the end of the season.

I then cleaned up and refitted all deck hardware with silicone.  The rudder and keel were gently sanded with 400 grit wet & dry to remove some minor marking, and a new rope pack, toe strap and clew strap were added.  The sail was thrown into the washing machine with some biological washing powder (whaat!?! the sail is ancient!!)

From the gunwale up the boat looked fantastic, and I can't wait to make the hull match.  I am thinking of doing the hull the same light grey that I am planning to use on the topsides of Contradanza, which will be good as I can hone my skills on the Laser before commiting expensive paint to the yacht.

So I have now joined Aberdeen & Stonehaven Sailing & Yachting Club and looking forward to getting the boat wet!  Of course as its a Laser I am going to get mashed by kids and old boys, and they will all laugh at my ancient heap of a boat, but thats all part of the fun!

Pictures soon!


8th August 2011

Pictures as promised!!! Taken during my first race day at Stonehaven, and conditions could not have been worse!  There was a 2 to 3 metre swell running and the wind was much stronger at the tops of the waves than at the bottom!  I set myself 2 objectives.... do not capsize, and do not puke!

I made a really good start, and was quite proud of myself with only 4 boats ahead of me after rounding the first windward mark, and they were all big skiffy things!  I held my own for a while, then I started to feel the mal de mer.  I completed 1 lap, and was just 2 tacks away from finishing the first race in a good position when my poor tummy told me to turn for shore... I needed to not puke more than I needed to complete the race!!!  The boat had surpassed my expectations, and was obviously competitive given the conditions and the people I was sailing with.  I was pleased!  Next time I shall return with copious Stugoren!


Setting up Setting up Heading out!


14th September 2011

So I have been racing!!  Generally speaking I am racing every Wednesday evening after work.  I have not managed to get to a weekend yet, but maybe this weekend!  I have a new wetsuit to replace my shortie, purchased from LOMO in Glasgow, and I have to say its a fantastic suit.  My shortie was getting cold!  You can check out my results on the ASYC website although it does not make exciting reading!  I feel generally the boat is competitive if I try really hard, but could do with some minor tweaks.  Where I stitched the battens in the sail has small pleats that I feel are dis advantageous.  Also, on quiet days, the boat comes back ashore dry inside, but on a windy day, I get a couple of litres.  I feel this may be from the centreboard trunk at the top hull to deck joint, and this may need the old vacumn and resin trick at some stage!  I could also really use a decent outhaul system as the one I have currently does not let me adjust the outhaul easily at all.  I have a new vang, which is actually really nice.  Overall I am slowly dialing the boat and myself into a competitive plan, and I am now starting to keep up with the laser fleet.

I should have some more pictures of the renovation up shortly!


29th February 2012

So I got the laser back home for a week so I can sort her out before the start of the sailing season.  I had repaired one side of the hull to deck joint the first time around, but this time the opposite side had really failed!  Over 3/4 of the joint on the starboard side had failed this time, so drastic action was necessary.  I dremmeled the gap out, prising the deck and hull apart to ensure a good bonding surface.  I then hoovered and flushed the area with acetone.  Then, putting the vacumn onto the drain bung like last time I let the suction draw thickened epoxy through the joint.  As it was starting to set up, I could hear the hoover note change, and I let the vacumn off.  The joint clamped itself well.  The next day I sanded things off and refreshed the deck paint.  I also applied epoxy to the inside of the centreboard case and mast step to be sure these were not leak paths.

Meanwhile, the rope pack had been washed and the cover washed.  I also managed to get the centreboard sanded down, faired and resprayed.  New wheels on the road base and inflating the launch trolley wheels completed the mini refit.  The boat is now ready to head up to Skene and shred the entire season from the beginning with all the teething troubles of the first season out of the way!!

I also feel like I might consider attending a few traveller series around Scotland this year, where obviously I will have the ugliest laser every time!


First Skene Weekend, 3rd & 4th March 2012

So we got the boat renovation quickly finished off, and I went up to Skene on the Saturday to help with the "gardening" required at the club site... if you can call 40 people with strimmers, axes and saws gardening!  With the club site cleared early, I decided to tow the Laser up that day so it was ready for the Sunday.  I was pleased to be allocated a space right next to the waters edge!  The Sunday was a good first effort, with two races back to back.  I particularly enjoyed dragging my laser 7 feet to the waters edge, and not having to immerse myself above my ankles!!  Spoiled I am!  I will try to hit this series in a consistent manner... indeed I got a fairly good start at this, and again the old laser proved it could keep up with the rest when I was concentrating.  I will get some pictures of the racing next week, meanwhile, pictures and results below:

Skene Sunday Series Race 1

Skene Sunday Series Race 2

Laser ready to head off to Skene!


Second Skene Weekend - 10th & 11th March 2012

So some more racing this weekend, and I was very pleased with my results!  The boat stayed dry inside, and I was able to finish well in several races.  I especially enjoyed the first race on Sunday, which was very windy with lots of people capsizing and some collisions.  I may not be the greatest in light and shifty winds, but when it comes to staying upright when the shit hits the fan I am pretty good, and I stayed upright and made few minor mistakes.  The reaches and runs on this race were superb.  It got me thinking... maybe I should get a new sail... maybe it would make a big difference....

One thing of note, the International Interdeck non slip paint I used on the lasers deck is seriously aggressive.  I managed to put a large hole in (ahem!) both cheeks, which I have since repaired with two layers of sharkskin neoprene and Bostik 2402.  I also have some Progrip for the deck of the laser to try and make sure it does not happen again.  I really do not want to have to suffer the pain and embarrassment of a big chafed butt again!

Some pictures from the weekend:

Rediculous pose.... Arty! Bum!

And some results:

Skene Saturday Series Race 1

Skene Saturday Series Race 2


Skene Sunday Series Race 3

Skene Sunday Series Race 4


Third Skene Weekend - 17th & 18th March 2012

So I went ahead and bought a new Rooster replica laser sail.  What a difference!  It goes upwind much faster, that is for sure.  The boat is more controllable now too.  It made me realise what poor condition my existing sail is in!  I realised though that I also need more cunningham control, so some kit is on order.  Also I progripped my deck edges to prevent the wetsuit chafe from the previous weekend.  I also want to be more independently aware of the course instead of the usual following the skiffs, so I have prepared laminated course cards that will get velcro attachments to the foredeck!  This will give me the confidence to aim for the top spot on the line and actually know where I am going when I start in a good position.  Other mods included an extra set of tell tales high up on the sail, and a teflon disc for the mast base, cos it was cheap!  The results were interesting.  I have certainly closed the gap between myself and the top laser.  I feel I am between 2 and 4 minutes faster as a result of these mods and my improving understanding of how to propel the laser to windward.  In a blow, if you are not hiking off the tips of your toes, you are not going anywhere!  You really have to hike it flat and hard to make good progress.  Also it seems the new sail likes a shed load of cunningham tension for going upwind, and its also critical to let it off for downwind.  the vang is less important, but good tension is needed to stop the top of the sail twisting off.  Outhaul for flattening in big breeze, sail belly a couple of inches from the boom, and in smaller breeze, up to 8 inches or so from the boom.  This regime seems to be making me go faster and faster.  Some pictures and results below!

Skene Saturday Series Race 3

Skene Saturday Series Race 4


Skene Sunday Series Race 5

Skene Sunday Series Race 6



Trailer Update - 2nd May 2012

So in the course of sailing at Skene, my launch trolley decided it had had enough and fell apart.  This was probably to be expected, as it was a horrendous home made effort built from poly waste pipe, wooden blocks, uncoated thin walled steel tube and alloy pop rivets!  At the moment, all I have to do is drag the boat 7 feet over the grass to the waters edge, but with a view to taking the boat to Stonehaven, where a sturdy launch trolley is a necessity, I decided to sort something out.  Using my exiting road base, some 30x30x2.5 SHS and some 1" Pipe I have developed a launch trolley that will work with the boat and road base.  At this point, I am waiting on a few bits and pieces to arrive, such as washers and R clips for the axles, and a rubber bow snubber block.  Once the welding is finalised and I have trialled everything again, I will send everything to get galvanised.  I have to admit I am quite excited about getting it all galvanised!!

New trolley welded up Welds not pretty, but strong enough! Yep, that will work!

Trailer Update - 10th May 2012

So further progress on the Laser launch trolley and road base integration.  I managed to get the axles set up for the wheels by welding on big heavy washers and drilling the holes for the R clips.  I also got an attachment for a breakaway cable installed, which is excellent.  The welds have been ground down and wire brushed for to get as much weld slag off before galvanising.  I also got lots of holes drilled to allow free draining of the molten zinc and to ensure no closed sections which can explode during galvanising.  I also got the trailer dismantled and its now scheduled for a trip to the galvanisers up in Elgin.  Pictures as follows!


Looking good! axle end not bad

So overall pleased with the progress and looking forward to getting it to the galvanisers!

Breakaway cable detail Indespension units sprayed up all ready to go



28th May 2012

The parts finally came back from the galvaniser!  I quickly got the trailer assembled, as I have to take the boat from Skene to Stonehaven this week.  I used all new bolts, I got the hubs greased up, and where I had to, I filed the extra zinc drips off the trailer.  Then it was off to Skene to pick up the Laser!  Using duct tape I applied some padding to the trailer where it was needed.  I towed the boat back home, but it seems that the new launch trolley, which is a gunwale hung design, has managed to separate the hull to deck joint quite severely on both sides for over 2/3rds the length of the boat!  This is ok, as I can really get in to see whats going on now, and will be able to do a much higher quality of repair than I have been able to so far!  Anyway, some pictures of the completed trailer!

Trailer built up and ready to tow! Trailer built up and ready to tow! Parts as delivered

As a small consellation to the hull to deck joint issues, the results are in from the first seasons racing at Skene.  My results:

  • Saturday Series: 7th Overall, 2nd Laser
  • Sunday Series: 6th Overall, 1st Laser

Quite pleased with that considering I was completely new to racing an Una Rig such as the Laser at the beginning of the season.  Learning how to go upwind with just a mainsail has been really good for me, as I previously took all my upwind and sail trim cues from a jib and the telltales.  I am looking forward to starting the Stonehaven season with the new knowledge I have gained from the first season at Skene!

Last Updated (Monday, 28 May 2012 22:11)