Friday, September 8, 2017

Hiking Strap Aero V Laser

It called the double friction method, an innovative hack of the Laser's hiking strap setup. 

The idea is to use 7mm main sheet laced through the eyelets at the back of the cockpit to create friction points allowing the hiking strap to be adjusted as needed on the water. A worn piece of main sheet is recommended as it has more friction. 

It is a clever adaptation of the existing eyelets, a work around for the original crude design.

In reality its a little too tricksy and most club Laser sailors just thread some cord through the strap and the eyelets and secured with half hitches.

The 21st century way to use a buckle and velcro.  This is the Aero hiking strap, adjustable in two places, too easy.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

No more duct tape

My tennis elbow has gone. Lateral Epicondylitis is very  common among Laser sailors especially and tends to get worse at regattas and for many it never goes away.  Sailors applying bandages, velcro straps and duct tape are common sights in the change room.  There are various theories. It could be caused by hanging off the mainsheet when hiking, or it could be the sheeting action and many blame the Laser’s heavy weather helm. 

Despite still sailing two to three days a week on my Aero, my Lateral Epicondylitis has now cured itself. It must be one or a combination of these three things.

the black Aero sheet is much easier to hold

  1. There is no hanging of the mainsheet, the Aero has to be sailed very flat and in 18 plus knots, the boat foots onto a semi plane upwind and is kept in that mode with constant adjustments for gusts and waves.
  2. The mainsheet is much thicker than the regular Laser sheet. It can be easily held with no gloves or regular yacht gloves. So much kinder on the hands.
  3. The weather helm is very light, the sheeting arm gets a rest on the next  tack.

Having sailed both boats, my experience is that the Laser’s weather helm is the main culprit, my steering arm hurt the most. But the thicker Aero mainsheet significantly reduces the need to grip a skinny rope and this also reduces tension in the forearm.

Steve Cockerill knows the Laser causes tennis elbow. Steve was interviewed by Yachts and Yachting following his win in the 2017 Aero Worlds. (full article)

Laser rudder rake causes heavy weather helm

Mark: You've come from a Laser sailing background. How comfortable is the Aero compared to the Laser?
Steve: I would say massively comfortable. When I was sailing at the Laser Masters' Europeans earlier this year my hips were giving me gyp, but I've just finished the Aero Worlds and I'm not in any pain. I'm tired, my knees are tired, my joints are tired and my back is tired, but I haven't got tennis elbow from steering upwind and I haven't got any pain in my hips. When you get in the right place and sit further back you get a nice, even amount of pressure on the back of your calves against the side deck, and with hike pads on you can really give yourself a nice hiking position. It really is very ergonomically designed for hiking and I've got to say I like it.

Unfortunately not everyone has access to an Aero and if you are still sailing a Laser and suffering tennis elbow here is one approach from a renown AUS Laser masters champion.

"I had bad tennis elbow a while ago. I got it from hanging off the mainsheet. It was so bad I couldn't even carry a coffee cup.  However I cured myself after about 6 weeks. Here is how:

I first received advice to seek a physio, tennis elbow is often caused by muscles higher up, ie not at the elbow. So I asked a doctor friend. He said he didn't know because he is a gynecologist :) but he did give me a vital clue that it is just inflammation.

Therefore no need to see a physio because I then knew how to solve it myself.

I noticed that it hurt when I lifted my straight arm up horizontal. So I started exercising to cure that by rotating my straight arms in small horizontal circles several times per day. Also I used duct tape on my forearm to keep the muscles from expanding. Plus I lie on the floor on my back straight legged and arms stretched above my head. I roll from side to side and I can hear the muscles and tendons cracking.

So I did those exercises plus duct tape when I sailed. I was still sailing 4 times per week but after three weeks of doing the exercises plus duct tape solved the problem and now my tennis elbow is 100% cured.

I still do those arm rotation exercise morning, evening, before, between, after sailing and I still use duct tape on my forearms.

So now I exercise the root cause. My arms and shoulder still hurt after a hard race but no tennis elbow. The rotation exercises crunch my back muscles which cures my sore arm and shoulder within an hour after racing.  

You could also ask a gynecologist just for completeness :)"

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Marc Jacobi 2017 RS Aero Worlds

Watch 2017 World champion Marc Jacobi (USA) in race #13 of the 2017 RS Aero Worlds in Carnac (Britanny, France).

Friday, June 9, 2017

RS Aero - No Speed Hum

Have you noticed that there is no speed hum with an Aero?

This is Peter Barton's reply to one of my recent questions about the RS Aero.  Peter looks after the RS Aero out of the UK, and usually manages to get back to me over night. There is a 10 hour time difference between Australia and the UK.  

This time I was following up an question posted in this blog from the Tijuana Taxi.

Great Blog Nick, well done on 2nd at the Nat's as well. One thing you didn't mention about the foils was the trailing edge, the designers have made this a mitre. When I first test sailed one I thought this had been filed to remove some dings, but on receiving my own boat the mitred edges were still present. I am pretty sure RS have not made mention of this in previous literature but my thoughts are by creating a laminar flow away from the rudder, cavitation is avoided and the boat steers even more effectively downwind than the Laser. I would be interested in your or anyone else's thoughts on this.

Hi Nick, Yes, that looked wrong to me initially too! I checked with Alex at RS who confirmed that the main reason is to stop/reduce the humming of the foils, it allows a cleaner re-attachment of flow, otherwise you get cavitation down the trailing edge which can cause the humming sound.
Peter Barton
Have you noticed that there is no speed hum with an Aero?

I tried to take a photo of the edge of my Aero centre boat, but my iPhone camera could not get it the edge in  focus, so here a shot of an Aero board next to an ageing Laser board.  Apart from having a clever trailing edge, they simply look so much nicer.  And there is no rattle or hum.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Steve Cockerill joins the RS Aero class

RS Aero Class Facebook posted last week news that Steve and Sarah Cockerel have joined the RS Aero Class.

Steve has notched up some 50 odd singe handed championship titles over a variety of classes. 

Follow Aero news from around the world


Friday, May 19, 2017

Laser vs Aero Roll Tack

The Laser block to block rig makes the boom very low and you really have to find a way to duck under the boom when tacking.  For many of us masters roll taking is out of the question, we just can't get under the boom in the correct way.  Here are two video with instructions on roll taking.  The RS Aero has much more room, so no excuses now.

Both videos slow the action down.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Laser's five basic design flaws

When you compare the 2013 designed RS Aero with the 1969 designed Laser it is easy now to see the Laser's five basic design flaws.

Three are due to the technology and materials limitations of the day, namely the Laser hull weight, the Laser hull shape and foils.

But why did designers, Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce, chose a sail plan that required block to block sheeting at the transom?

Setting a low boom  also required a cockpit inset into the boat so low it cannot self drain. Centre sheeting and self draining cockpits were common in Moth designs in the 1960's and its hard to explain why the Laser ended up with such a poor configuration.

The Laser was unlucky to end up with a hull weight of 59kg as just 5 years later Ian Bruce and Frank Bethwaite produced the 68kg (fully rigged) Taser using Fiberglass sandwich foam. This substantially larger boat two person boat carries 11.5m2 sail and planes upwind.

In 2013 RS produced the Aero with a hull weight of 30kg

The Kirby's foresight was the was the unstayed mast that simply slotted into a hole in the deck. Comprised of two pieces aluminium tubing it made easy work of rigging, storage and transport. The approach now perfected further by the Aero and the WASZP.


1.  Bruce Kirby's doodle on a yellow legal pad. The tear sheet from this pad later became what we called the “million dollar doodle.”

2. 1960's Australian Moth with centre sheeting and self draining cockpit

3.  The WASZP with no stays, good when dismounting at 20 knots.

Read more about the history of the Laser design in Kirby's own words.