Outhaul Systems - Ordering Guide
The following is designed to help you choose the optimum outhaul system by looking at what is important, the types of system available, and then the blocks, rope, inhaul bungee and clew strap. If you have any questions or need further advice please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Unlike the kicker and downhaul, the forces on the outhaul system are lower, but to be effective the outhaul system needs careful attention. All of our systems have a 6:1 purchase which is what the vast majority of Laser sailors use. There are a number of variations on the 6:1 system relating to how the sail clew is attached to the system, and where the system blocks are located.
As the forces are lower, the block type and size on the outhaul isn’t as critical. What is really important to effective operation of an outhaul system is the clew strap and the elastic, as we want to be able to pull the outhaul on easily without it getting snagged up on the boom, and when we release it we want the sail to run out by itself, even in the lightest wind, without having to help it.
The first decision to make is about how the sail is attached to the clew
There are two main types of system, both of which enable the sail clew to be easily released from the outhaul system, but in different ways.
The normal system has the primary line fixed to the boom end eye and uses a clew block attached to a hook or shackle, so that you can easily detach the outhaul system from the clew of the sail without having to undo any knots. There are a number of hooks available and they are subtly different. We use the Harken hook in conjunction with a choice of block type. But the hook can get caught and release inadvertently. A good alternative to the hook is a captive click shackle.
Quick Release System
The quick release system uses a large loop that fits over the end of the boom and a block that is fixed to the sail clew. Our spliced clew block is a neat way of having a block secure on your clew, with the advantage of being able to move it from sail to sail. Blocks permanently attached to the sail clew are what a lot of the top sailors use due to the security it provides, but you need a way of easy way of undoing the outhaul primary to release the sail when you come ashore. One way of doing this is to have a ‘quick release’ system where the primary line has a large loop that fits snugly over the end of the boom. This neat solution is becoming more and more popular. For more information as to how this system is rigged have a look at the installation instructions.
We offer both of the above system types, which are listed separately under Outhaul System Normal and Outhaul System Quick Release pages. Note that our outhaul systems assume that you are using a clew block – if you don’t want to use a clew block, send us an e-mail after any order and we will lengthen the primary by 10cm to compensate.
Where do you want the blocks located?
There are three choices here:
1. Centre Top of Boom – The first (and most popular) is to have the centre block fixed to the cleat in the middle of the boom so that it sits on top of the boom, one block along the boom, and the third block at the gooseneck.
2. Centre Side of Boom – The second variation is very similar to the first, but the block at the cleat sits alongside the boom, rather than on top.
3. Front of Boom – The third variation has two blocks on a strop at the gooseneck, and the third block in the system located towards the front of the boom at the end of a longer primary line.
There is no measurable performance difference between the systems – it is mainly down to personal preference and how/where you like to mark your calibration markings on the boom. You can choose what is best for you via the Block Location drop-down menu. If you are un-decided as which configuration is best for you, have a read of this article by four top sailors.
If you want an outhaul system that is specifically built and optimised for the 4.7 rig, add the System Option ‘4.7 Rig Optimisation’ that is listed below the outhaul systems.
Unlike the downhaul, the outhaul can get away with smaller blocks and we recommend Harken T2 Soft-Attach 18mm (which is what you get with a new Laser) or the economic Allen 20mm Dynamic Tii or Ronstan 20mm Orbit blocks.
For the primary line a light but strong 3mm D12 Dyneema is perfect. For the secondary line (the one that you pull on) we use Robline Dinghy Control as the standard line and Robline Dinghy Polytech as our premium line. The Polytech has Technora in the cover which makes it more durable. Gottifredi Maffioli EVO Race 78 which is similar in performance to Dinghy Control is also available - if you want this line order your system with Dinghy Control and add a note at checkout saying that you want EVO Race 78. All our secondary line ends are epoxied/heatshrink sleeved to help keep them nice and tidy. We offer a wide range of primary/secondary colour combinations. If you want more information on our secondary lines and how to select which is best for you read our article on selecting secondary lines.
The secondary control line length can be selected for either a simple loop handle or a braided handle.
Outhaul Elastic/Inhaul Bungee
You need a shock cord to help release the outhaul in light winds. This wants to pull the clew of the sail back along the boom in the most effective manner. There are two types of outhaul elastic/inhaul bungee systems.
- The first is a simple bungee that just pulls the sail clew back in towards the boom centre cleat.
- The second, and far better type, is a ‘double puller’ elastic. One part of the elastic pulls the clew back in, and the second part pulls the control line back through the blocks, fairlead and cleat. The double puller is attached at the boom cleat at one end, and just behind the floating outhaul block at the other. To do this in an easy to rig way we use a bungee with loops at each end, and a toggle to loop the free end of the bungee over.
You will find both of the above listed underneath the outhaul systems under Systems Options
Finally, it is also important to use a good quality clew strap to reduce friction in the system to a minimum, and McLube the end of the boom to ensure that it is nice and slippy.
All our systems are supplied with detailed rigging instructions which can be seen here:
Normal outhaul - Port Side Rigging installation instructions
Normal outhaul - Starboard Side Rigging installation instructions
Quick Release outhaul installation instructions.
Switching between 4.7 and Radial rigs
One of the questions that we regularly get asked is how to easily adapt the outhaul system for sailors who regularly switch between 4.7 and Radial rigs. The foot of the 4.7 sail is about 10 inches/26cm shorter than the Radial. There isn’t a simple answer to this question as it depends on the type of outhaul system being used, type of clew block and also the type of inhaul bungee you are using.
For a ‘normal’ outhaul system where the end of the thin primary line is luggage tagged to the blue plastic eye on the end of the boom, one simple way to adapt a radial/standard rig outhaul is to use a short extender strop luggage tagged to the 4.7 sail. This works with a clew block with a captive shackle, but not with the hook. The extender strop is listed on the primary lines page.
For a ‘quick release’ system where there is a large loop that fits over the end of the boom, things are a bit easier. In this type of system the clew block remains attached to the sail. On the radial, this block typically sits close to the clew, attached by a ‘semi-permanent’ fixing such as a Dyneema soft shackle, or strop with toggle, or one of our ‘luggage tag’ blocks. To adapt this outhaul system for the 4.7 rig, a simple solution is to have a clew block attached to your 4.7 sail with a longer strop, so that when rigged it will sit in the same position as the block on a radial sail. We have added this clew block/strop for the 4.7 rig available with a range of blocks. These are listed towards the bottom of the quick release outhaul page under system options.
Whatever outhaul system type you use, the inhaul bungee/outhaul elastic will need to be switched between rigs as it is important that it goes through the sail clew grommet, and not the clew block/shackle or hook. Therefore, one length of bungee will not work – you need to use the right length for each rig. We offer both ordinary and our double puller elastic for the radial/standard and 4.7 rigs.
- You offer both normal and ‘quick release’ outhaul systems – can you explain the pros and cons of both and how I should decide what is best for me. Like a lot of choices when it comes to rigging your Laser a lot is down to personal preference, often based on what we have got used to using. Both the normal and ‘quick release’ are popular ways of rigging the outhaul. The normal version has the primary line fixed to the boom end eye and relies on a clew block as the way of releasing the sail. There are numerous clew block options to choose from including the ubiquitous hook, or a captive shackle. The ‘quick release’ system was developed as top sailors wanted to have a clew block permanently tied onto their sail, and needed a way of releasing the sail from the outhaul system – which resulted in the large loop that fits over the end of the boom. It is very quick and easy to rig. Both systems work just as well as each other functionally. From a rigging and derigging perspective the ‘quick release’ version is marginally easier. From a security perspective, the normal version is less likely to fail – the ‘quick release’ version can get accidentially pulled off the end of the boom if it got snagged on a RIB or other boat for example (some sailors put a wrap of tape over the loop, but this seems to detract from the rigging simplicity). Personally, having used both, I use the normal version with a captive shackle/clew block.
- Should I choose a Harken 18mm/Allen 20mm or Harken 29mm block for the outhaul system? The loads on the outhaul system are low in comparison with the downhaul system and as a result we can use a smaller block for the outhaul. If the budget allows, then using the Harken 29mm block will result in a better system as ropes run better through larger sheave blocks, but priority should always be using the available budget on the kicker and downhaul before the outhaul.
- You offer both top of boom and side of boom centre blocks for your outhaul systems. Why? What is best for me? Again this is down to personal preference, but the top of block version makes it easier to see the outhaul calibration on both tacks.
- Why is there only a Ronstan 20mm version of the spliced clew block when every other clew block has Harken, Allen and Ronstan versions? The spliced clew block is designed for use with the quick release version of our outhaul system which has a large loop that fits over the end of the boom. The spliced clew block is ‘permanently’ fixed to the sail – i.e. it can be removed when the outhaul system is rigged. The large loop on the end of the primary line has to fit through the opening in the clew block and the Ronstan 20mm block as the largest opening of all the small 18-20mm blocks. We now offer a Harken 18mm spliced clew block which works when you have a thin ‘teaser line’ attached to the large loop to help thread it through. An obvious question would be why not use a 29mm block? The answer is that a 29mm block can be used successfully if it is physically tied on close to the sail, but with a spliced loop version the block ends up too far away from the sail and will ‘bottom out’ by hitting the boom end eye before the outhaul is fully on.
- Should I choose Harken or Allen blocks for my system? Harken T2 Carbo blocks are the ‘de facto’ standard on the Laser, being provided with all new Lasers built in the UK. The Allen blocks are more economic, but are slightly heavier. Functionally they are very similar.
- Your range of clew blocks is a bit daunting – what is the best solution? Firstly it important to distinguish between the two fundamental types of clew blocks: the first type are designed to be released from the clew of the sail every time we rig (using either a hook, shackle, or in some cases toggle); the second type are designed to stay ‘permanently’ fixed to the sail, and are used in conjunction with a ‘quick release’ type of outhaul system which has a large loop that slides over the end of the boom which act as the release mechanism. For the first type, personal preference on what we are happy with is a major factor – some sailors are perfectly happy with the Harken type hook, others prefer the security that a shackle or toggle brings. For the second type, the Ronstan 20mm spliced clew block is arguably the best and the most economic solution.
- Can I see the instructions as to how the systems are rigged? Yes, the links to the rigging instructions are here:
- I am unsure of what is best for me – do you offer free advice? Yes, we offer free advice on what we feel is best for you, based on years of sailing the Laser at championship level. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- You list Harken and Allen based systems – which is best? From a weight perspective, the Harken block are much lighter. From a strength and functional perspective both are very similar. The Harken blocks are by far the most popular, and are the block type supplied with new UK supplied Lasers. The Allen blocks are an excellent economical solution.
- I like to rig my Laser differently. Do you offer custom systems? Yes. A quick walk around the Laser boat park at even a world championship will show that there is no ‘right way’ to a rig a Laser – a lot is down to personal preference, and we are happy to build up exactly what you want.
- Do I have to have everything spliced together? The answer is no, but there are a number of reasons why we splice our systems together. For the primary lines, the fixing to the new ‘soft attach’ blocks is important that it is done correctly, as an incorrectly fixed primary line can pull apart the head of the block. For the secondary lines, particularly the smaller Harken 18mm and Allen 20mm blocks, the size of the sheave makes it difficult to thread a 4mm control line through when a 3mm primary line has already been threaded through.
- Having a spliced system is great, but what happens when the ropes inevitably wear out? If you liked the original spliced system that we supplied we can rebuild the system using your original blocks. Just send the blocks back to us and we will replace and re-splice the lines for the listed price/metre of the ropes on our website – we can’t say fairer than that!
- I have just bought a new Laser and I have the bag of blocks and ropes that comes with it. Can you put it all together for me? Yes, we have done this for a number of customers. The bag of ropes that comes with a new Laser can be daunting. We can turn all those ropes and blocks into a ready to fit system from just £75.
- Can you fit your systems with other types of control line? Yes. Our standard secondary control line ropes are Robline Dinghy Control (which is standard on new Lasers), and Gottifredi Maffioli Race 78. More durable options that you can choose from our website are Marlow Excel Racing GP78 which as a tough Technora/Polyester cover and naked 4mm Dyneema. Some other rope types are not amenable to splicing and would be tied.