Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fat Boy Laser

Steve Cockerill at Rooster Sailing has come up with a more powerful rig for the Laser, the Rooster 8.1, that claims to deliver "amazing performance" and would suit anyone over 90kg. I see he hopes to develop a racing circuit and a national championship in the UK.

Hmmm. Wonder if it will ever take off in the US? Perhaps I should volunteer to be President of the US Rooster 8.1 Class Association?


JSW225 said...

Without extra reinforcement, the longevity of the mast step (which does give out on regular lasers) will severely diminish, especially if the rig is taller.

But being a "big boy" myself, I'm game.

Tillerman said...

I think you're right jsw225. I have heard of various attempts to "turbo-charge" the Laser. I even know of one guy who rigged an asymmetric spinnaker on one. But all these turbo version must run the risk of stressing the mast step too much.

"Raps" said...

If you are going to turbo a laser, you midas well go with a square top main with full battens. They depower quite nicely in puffs and you might be able to fit a windsurfing carbon mast too..

I thought the mast steps only gave out in a certain vintage? I would imagine you could reinforce the mast step with less than .5 lbs of glass and epoxy, might be a good tradeoff for the extra sail area,

Tillerman said...

Why not go the whole hog and rig some shrouds and stays while you're at it?

Tim said...

Woohoo! Then you're half way to having a real boat! ;0)

Tillerman said...

What do you mean Tim? You think I should ask Mr Cockerill to make me a blue sail?

Mallard said...

The mind continues to boggle! I'm about 92kgs-ish, and I'm loving my Laser Standard! Getting on one of those 8.1s would see me getting *very* wet at the moment! heh heh But, what the heck - go for it!!!

rudderman said...

Comments from the Yachts & Yachting forum discussing the stress implications on the Rooster 8.1 and whethjer the standard Laser is up to it...

The bigger rig will always generate more force (drive and heel) for a given wind speed. So in any given wind the force on the 8.1 rig and hull will be higher. This is amplified by the additional mast height.

However, the maximum force on the rig & hull depends on how much heeling force the sailor can counter by hiking. If you stop sailing at a lower wind force because you're using a bigger sail, then the maximum force is the same - you just give up earlier. If the 8.1 rig attracts bigger sailors who use it in strong winds, then the max force will be higher.

On the other hand I'll bet rooster's sail develops more forward drive per heeling force than laser's does, so the total forces might even be lower!

Apart from the old (wooden step) laser hulls, has anyone lost a mast foot? All we've had is a broken top mast - due to the radial sail's cut rather than total force.

NB: as for rigging - it's all those little ropes to thread and retaining pins to undo that takes me forever, not putting the sail on the mast or the mast in the boat! If only the cunningham hole in the sail was big enough to post the cunningham block through


Given that the max righting moment is determied by the sailor not the sail, the max loading on the mast step on the beat won't be affected by sail size. The average loading may be increased though, in that a fatty will be fully-hiked over a wider range of conditions (though as an aside, it's interesting to appreciate that the max potential thrust of the rig, when fully hiked, will actually decrease with increasing sail size as the centre of effort is moved skywards, increasing heeling moment and necessitating a lower force to equate to the same heeling/righting moment!).

Well off-wind, where loads are effectively unlimited due to the possibility of bearing off ever-further in the gusts, the mast step loadings will be increased by a bigger rig.

So, Laser might have a point if they quibbled over warranty claims.


Surly the max loading will increase, if for a given crew weight is the boat is kept flat, and the sail size is increased the force acting on the centre of effort will increase therefore the moment acting about the mast foot will increase so the load at that point will increase.


That's why I said the average loading would increase. But once you're fully hiked on the beat, the righting moment and the equal and opposite heeling moment of the rig is at a maximum and can't go beyond that, whatever you do with the sail size.

The "force on the centre of effort" could only increase if you had more righting moment to balance it with, which you don't, so you have to start luffing or dumping (assuming you're already on max sail flattening).


Once the helm is fully hiked the boat is at max load regardless of rig size ...


no the max rig loads will be when the helm is fully hiked and there is a gust


No, beacuse when a gust hits a sailor who is fully hiked the boat heels therefore reducing the load on the rig! There would be momentary instant where the load would be greater before the boat has started heeling, however most materials can take much greater loads in short temporary stints than they could if the loading were permanent. The age of the boat will also come into play, due to the mast step losing some stiffness over the years and probably becoming more brittle aswell so the gust impacts may affect it more on an older hull.


Well, I am over 90Kg (well over unfortunately) and for many years have longed for a single hander for which I could be competitive in, sails well on the sea, does not weigh the same as a 505 and has a plentiful supply of second hand boats, the impossible dream.

With the advent of the Rooster 8.1 my prayers would seem to have been answered, so it was with some trepidation that I took up Steve's offer of a sail on Saturday. The conditions were glorious, 15 to 20 knots of breeze, wind over tide producing some good waves, the sun out and pretty mild.

I have sailed a Laser on and off for the last 20 years and am well aware of how they feel in these conditions with a lump like me inside. I am glad to say this was now in a completely different boat to what I was used to it was lithe, nimble and exciting. For the first time I could drive the boat down wind and waves not getting stuck in the troughs, 5th gear had finally been found.

As the final test I lined up against a good friend of a similar weight who normally sails quicker than me downwind. I took 20 to 30m out of him in 150m of sailing.

In short the Rooster 8.1 has delivered a boat for the big guy, which is a market the major dinghy manufactures have completely ignored. . Will it be faster than a standard laser? That is a more complex question, the optimum weight to sail a laser would appear to be 80-82 Kg, what this rig does is make the boat feel that way for a larger sailor. The more important element for me is that sailing a Laser can be fun again.

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