GBR Team sailor and European Champion Micky Beckett has written this article for us...
"The most under-rated control line on your ILCA/Laser, is your hiking strap/toestrap adjustment system. I’ve seen all kinds of systems that don’t really work and a handful that just about do. What a working system can offer you is realcontrolover your boat and an ability to transfer power from your kinetics through the boat into straight line speed.
So, let’s get down to it, how tight or loose should your toestrap be?
Unfortunately the answer isn’t neat and tidy, it’s all very circumstantial. The tension you want will depend on how tall you are and how strong your ankle fibres are, what leg of the course you’re on, how windy it is and possibly the sea state.
Let’s go through these factors one by one:
How tall are you?
Broadly speaking, the taller you are the tighter you want your toestrap, with anyone above the 6’2 mark probably wanting a very tight toestrap nearly all the time. For everyone else a good adjustable toestrap system is essential. People who come in at 5’6 or less need a lot of slack in their toestrap so they can still generate adequate righting moment. A nice rule of thumb is that the gunnel of the boat should be half way between the back of your knee joint and bottom of your bum. A looser toestrap will cause your knee joint to be too close to the gunnel and visa-versa with a tight one. If you’re not sure, get a friend to snap a photo of you doing your finest few seconds of hiking!
Do you have ankles made of steel?
Even I don’t. I’ve raced against people with really tight toestraps and tried to copy this thinking it would be a good idea, but it just wasn’t for me – it gave me really bad ankle pain and pins & needles after tacking. This is not how it should be! Realistically the longest you may be on one tack for is 10 minutes, by the end of which your ankles (not to mention quads, abs and hip flexors) will be crying out for relief, that’s okay, but don’t ignore too much pain. If you’re losing any sensations in your feet then loosen off the strap. Equally if the top of your shins are getting sore from curling your toes then you could consider going tighter.
Where are you on the course?
Upwind is where you need the most righting moment, and dependent on your height as mentioned previously a looser strap may be required.
On the reaches what you need is some righting moment and a lot of control – you need to be able to sit up and move your weight into the boatfast, this is to keep the boat quick and flat and avoid rolling to windward, for this a system you can tighten up as you go around the windward mark is very useful.
Downwind if you’re in the habit of hooking your back leg around the toestrap you will feel more locked in if the toestrap is bar tight.
The breeze and the sea state?
Anything above 14kt and you want the maximum leverage available, this means your body being as far out the boat as possible, but hips not low and getting hit by waves. If you can’t hold your body up then consider tightening your toestrap. As the breeze drops from ‘maximum power conditions’ this is where it gets interesting. A tight toestrap can be really beneficial when it’s ‘marginal power’ conditions, when you’re sat up hiking.
Over-flattening the boat (rolling the boat to windward) can be costly, but if your strap is tight then you can be locked in, able to do kinetics and effectively transfer power from your upper body through the boat, without the risk of over-flattening the boat. Also when there’s a big swell, such that at the top of the wave there is a lot more power than the bottom, a tight toestrap can be really beneficial when the lull and the trough come along, so you can stay in control of the heel of the boat at all times.
A compromise will be needed in really gusty conditions – for example how tight to go on a 5 – 15 knot day? Something to maybe discuss with others!
Ultimately it’s always a trade-off between righting moment vs control. Insufficient righting moment can be particularly punishing when lane holding in breeze, but the added control of a tighter strap can have huge benefits. It’s never worth maintaining a posture or position that punishes your joints, hiking is painful but that pain should be reserved for your muscles.
It took me years to reach the point I’m at in the photo. I’m a long way out the boat – I’ve got plenty of leverage, but I’ve also got high hips so my body is well clear of the water and I can exert very powerful kinetics through the boat. Toestrap tension will determine what hiking position you can achieve, I highly recommend spending some time considering different tensions and experimenting. Photos taken outside the boat are incredibly valuable to compare what you feel with what’s actually going on."
GBR Team sailor and European Champion Micky Beckett is sponsored by Southeast Sailboats. Southeast Sailboats newhiking strap adjustment systemmay be just what you need to get this under-rated control line under control!
Updated December 2022 to reflect latest BlackDog dimensions. We have added tillers and extensions to our ever expanding range. Tiller selection used to be fairly simple. Read on to find out what it maybe isn’t as simple as it used to be!
Manufactured items have tolerances and the ILCA/Laser dinghy is no exception. Be it mast rake, gudgeon height or other less obvious factors, there are always some variations between boats, and also between boats from different manufacturers.
When it comes to tillers these minor variations from boat to boat can be critical. We want our tiller to be as low as possible so that the traveller block can run over the tiller as easily as possible, but not too low that it rubs on the rear deck or hits the traveller cleat. “It is advisable to have a clearance margin of at least 8mm between the lower side of the tiller and the traveller cleat. This is because even a tight fitting tiller will bend slightly under the kind of loads experienced on a windy reach, the tiller shouldnever hit the cleat and the tolerance will ensure this won’t happen.” - Team GBR sailor and European champion Micky Beckett .
For feel we want a rock solid fit of the tiller in the stock. The tiller should be stiff so that it doesn’t bend and strong so that it doesn’t break.
“A low tiller will also increase your ‘feel’ or ‘feedback’ from the rudder, as the traveller won’t be adding unnecessary friction as the tiller slides underneath. With a low tiller the blocks will also stay in the corner by the traveller eye in light conditions, which is really critical for lane holding and having an effective high mode.” - Micky Beckett
Olympic Coach/multiple world champion Jon Emmett points out “Also remember in terms of the blocks crossing the boat during light wind tacks this is usually down to good technique, although of course having a really good tiller helps a lot!!!”
Without wanting to mention the unmentionable, sailors have always thought that PSA boats needed a tiller with a slightly different angle, as tillers for UK Laser Performance boats always seemed to sit a bit high on PSA boats.
With a number of new manufacturers now producing the ILCA dinghy some sailors have found that they seem to be similar to the PSA boats rather than the old Laser Performance boats. As a result, tiller manufacturers are now making different versions of tillers to suit both ILCA and Laser dinghies, and Southeast Sailboats now stock Element 6’s ultra-low Black Dog tiller and Rooster ILCA tiller, as well as Holt and Rooster tillers for the Laser.
We did a few measurements and here is why you should maybe consider getting the best tiller for whatever boat you sail. Simplistically, the bottom surface of tillers for the ILCA dinghy should be roughly parallel with the bottom surface of the entry into the stock. Tillers for the Laser need to be angled upwards slightly. The variations between these tillers is quite substantial, not just at the traveller cleat (between 6-21mm), but also at the point where the traveller crosses the tiller (between 18-27mm). Here are the detailed results of tillers measured with the lower face of the part of the tiller that sits in the stock pressed onto an absolutely flat surface (datum) to ensure consistency in measurements.
The new Holt tiller has been designed for the Laser aftermarket rather than the ILCA and sits quite high at the transom meaning that it is tolerant to gudgeon position. The cutaway over the tiller means that it can sit fractionally lower than a Rooster tiller.
Rooster’s famous carbon fibre tiller for the Laser is just that – perfect for the Laser. Rooster have now released a version optimised for the ILCA boats.
The new Element 6 Black Dog tiller has the lowest ‘A’ dimension as it has been optimised to fit PSA and Element 6 boats. The cutaway over the traveller cleat and ILCA optimised angle makes this tiller the lowest of all when measured at the wear plate (point B). This tiller also works well with an Ovington boat.
Confused? Let’s put it another way.. If you put a Rooster ILCA tiller on an ILCA it would sit 6mm lower where the traveller crosses than a Rooster Laser tiller. The Black Dog sits even lower, due to the fact that it’s about 3mm lower at the stern, and has the cutaway over the traveller cleat. So, for an ILCA dinghy it’s really advantageous to use an ILCA optimised tiller. However, put an ILCA optimised tiller on a Laser Performance boat and it will be too low – it will continually hit your traveller cleat. If you are travelling to an event where you are chartering and not sure what hull you are going to get it may be a good idea to take a couple of different tillers with you.
"The importance of getting the right tiller shouldn’t be overlooked in the search for boat-speed, it’s worth the time to get it right.” - Micky Beckett
Get in touch with Southeast Sailboats and we can help you choose the best tiller for you.
Southeast Sailboats sponsored sailor Matilda Nicholls has just completed first senior world championships and this is what she has to say both about the event and moving forwards into 2022.
“Wow what an incredible week at my very first Senior ILCA 6 World Championships! We sailed off the coast of Oman and were hosted by an incredible hotel with the boat park practically in its back garden. We had a couple days of training before the competition started to get into the conditions and ensure our charter boats were all set up nicely. A special thank you to Southeast Sailboats for the excellent rigging that is super easy to take from event to event and set up on the charter boats! We also managed to have a pretty cool day off before racing started in the nearby city, Muscat. We were able to have a look inside the Grand Mosque and explored around the Mutrah Souq which is a big market in the city. It is always really great when we get a chance to explore the culture and traditions of these countries we get to visit for our competitions!
Racing was due to kick off the next day but unfortunately, we did not manage any races as the wind did not fill in enough. Day 2 and the Women’s fleet was very eager to get going and after a couple general recalls we were off! We managed to get 3 races in before it got dark, and I was sitting in 20thafter our first day of racing. The rest of the week we had similar conditions with 6-10kts every day and sailing until sunset to make sure we got some good and fair races in. Ahead of the final day I was sitting in 9thplace at my first Senior Worlds which was incredibly exciting after I managed to string together a consistent set of results in the tricky light conditions. On the last day I was a little too line shy due after picking up too many Black Flags at previous events this year which made my last 2 races quite tough. But I still managed to finish the week of in 15thplace overall which I couldn’t be happier with and felt super proud to make a mark in the Senior Women’s fleet. Emma Plasschaert from Belgium showed us her strong and high level of experience in the ILCA 6 Fleet by sailing a consistent week and winning the 2021 Worlds!
I am absolutely loving sailing at the moment and am trying my best to also balance my Psychology degree at the University of Exeter. The Worlds in Oman was a very motivating week watching and competing against the top ILCA 6 Women. I am now moving away from Youth Racing and becoming an almost full-time Senior sailor. I will kick off the New Year training with the British Sailing Team in Vilamoura and am very excited for what the next year of training and racing will bring. We aren’t far off from the 2024 Paris Olympic Games now and am ready to work hard on my goals both on and off the water to give it my best at the Olympic trials.”
This Olympics will be riveting, for a myriad of reasons there has never been one quite like it. The event will consist of a ten-race series plus medal race spread over up to eight days, with just one discard. Racing will take place in Enoshima, a small peninsula in the middle of the South-facing Sagami bay. Even in summer the bay can produce a lethal swell as the seabed shelves from nearly a kilometre deep up to the shallow depths near the coast. Not many events contain a provision in the sailing instructions for a tsunami, let alone an Olympics....
Our 5mm SK78 traveller works great and has been the traveller used by both myself and GBR Team sailor Micky Beckett for years. However in the constant desire to improve and develop something better, we have spent over a year developing a new traveller.
A traveller has to do a number of things, and for one traveller to do all of them well is incredibly difficult. Let’s look at what’s important:
Cleat well: One of the biggest problems with some 12 strand Dyneema lines is that they are usually oval in cross-section and some lines just don’t want to cleat. Our 5mm D12 traveller that we have been selling for many years was selected on its ability to cleat well. Covered, round lines, have the ability to cleat exceptionally well.
Lowest stretch possible: Stretch is one of the most misunderstood subjects especially where 12 strand Dyneema is concerned, and we could write a whole page about it. In fact we did and it’s here…
Smoothness over the tiller: You want as little friction over the tiller wear plate for ultimate feel in light winds.
Ability to keep the blocks in the corners: A combination of minimal stretch, together with a surface texture that helps keep the blocks out in the critical 5-8 knot range.
Durability: It’s a hard life being a traveller and we wrote a whole article on that subject for one of our newsletters late last year.
In our search for the ultimate traveller we have built around 20 prototypes that have been tested by top sailors in the UK and in the USA. As a result of all this development and testing we are releasing our ‘ultimate’ traveller, theProMAX-99.
Our ProMAX-99 scores 5* on everything except durability – here we offer a word of caution, especially if you are sailing with a damaged or poorly positioned tiller wear plate, or worse still, no wear plate at all. OurProMAX-99traveller uses a thick Dyneema core with a beautiful but thin cover, which will get damaged very quickly if your tiller wear plate is damaged, has rough edges, or is misplaced causing the traveller line to rub against the transition between the wear plate and tiller when the tiller is hard over during sculling. Even worse is if you have no wear plate as the microscopic fibres of carbon on your tiller will tear the cover.
Our ProMAX-99 traveller was used last summer by Team GBR sailors at the UK Nationals and Senior European Championships, finishing 1-2 in both events! This what Micky has to say about it…..
“This is the best traveller I’ve used. It was quite easy to appreciate that as soon as I put it on, it out-performed anything else I’ve ever tried. It cleats instantly and easily and doesn’t slip, it’s lasted very well showing minimal wear after an intense and windy summer of sailing. In that wind range where you really want the traveller to sit down in the corner, 5 – 8 knots, the rope provides a nice amount of friction to stop the blocks sliding up, without being so heavy-duty that it impedes the movement of the tiller underneath it. It’s fantastic, I would highly recommend it.” -Michael Beckett
Tested by GBR Team sailors and chosen by them as the ultimate traveller, our newProMAX-99traveller is now available. Chosen for the Tokyo Olympics!
While it probably doesn’t cover everything, you may find the following ten point checklist useful to get your boat in top shape for the season…
1 – Check your gudgeons for signs of wear…. Replacement gudgeons are just £5.95 each 2 – Check your traveller for wear, especially at the edges where it rubs the alloy traveller eyes. Our spliced Dyneema traveller is still just £17.50. 3 – Has your centreboard brake seen better days? Replace it for just £1.95 4 – Protect the front top of your centreboard slot from wear with our wear protect pad. It also provide increased friction at the front to help keep your centreboard down. 5 – Check your control lines for wear, especially where they pass through the cleats. Also check where they rub up against the kicker fitting as this can also wear away your lines. Most control line ropes have an outer cover and a core, and the cover can suddenly give way when it is excessively worn. The signs of impending failure are a ‘fluffing up’ of the cover where it has been subject to wear in the cleating area, or where it has snagged. We have a wide range of pre-cut control lines for your outhaul, downhaul and kicker, as well as rope by the metre. 6 – Have a look at your tiller extensionuniversal jointfor the first signs of any cracking… 7 – Mast wear – reduce wear of both your boat and mast with mast wear strips and mast step protection disk. 8 – Check your kicker key for signs of distortion/cracking where the flat top disk meets the shaft. The MkII rig is especially tough on kicker keys. We sell stronger kicker keys from both Harken and Allen from just £4.95 9 – Check your downhaul primary line for signs of excessive wear. 10 – Often neglected as it is a bit hidden away – have a look at the small black fairlead on your kicker assembly and look to see how grooved it has become. Turn it around to get more life out of it, or buy the new one which is made by Harken with a slightly harder plastic for just £3.60.
Updated 16th March 2021 to reflect our new website. Our new website now offers the ability to see prices and pay in multiple currencies, and to obtain tax-free prices. When you select a currency other that GBP£ you will see tax free prices, which is the price that you will pay provided that your delivery address is outside of the UK. Please note that to pay in currency other than GBP£ use the credit/debit card checkout as PayPal is only in GBP£.
Sales to the European Union. On the 31stDecember 2020 the transitional period after leaving the European Union ended and the United Kingdom left the single market/customs union. Until 1 July 2021, sales to the European Union are now free of the 20% Value Added Tax (VAT) that is within our web pricing, BUT please note you may be liable for taxes/duties when your package reaches your country (this will vary from country to country and order value).
On the 1st July 2021 the EU is implementing a new system for web-shops such as Southeast Sailboats to add the appropriate VAT for the destination EU country to enable more rapid delivery to customers.