Current Laser National Champion and Sailing Chandlery sponsored sailor Sam Whaley explains how his Laser 8:1 Downhaul system is rigged and the ropes he uses.
In 2016 the MK2 Laser Standard sail was released and amongst many small improvements on the previous design, the most notable change was an increase in cloth thickness used. Whilst this has meant that the sails are competitive for longer and harder wearing it does have some knock-on effects, such as controls being harder to pull on. This especially applies to the downhaul and with many people previously just using a 6:1 purchase it was simply not powerful enough to pull the correct amount of downhaul on in new sails.
The Laser class rules allow a maximum purchase on the downhaul system to be 8:1 and many sailors started beefing up their systems by adding another block. This trend has swept across the Laser standard world over the past year with almost every single top sailor in the world using this 8:1 downhaul.
Here we will take a look at my version of the 8:1 downhaul. I switched to this system at the beginning of 2018 and despite being sceptical at first it really does make a huge difference, allowing you to be able to depower the sail in the windy conditions even when hiking. I would recommend it to everyone sailing a standard rig and maybe even to small people in a radial who struggle to pull the downhaul on in the big stuff.
For my primary line I use some 5mm dyneema which goes through the sail and then around the gooseneck. I loop it around the gooseneck to avoid the rope getting caught in the boom and save a few grams of weight with less rope. Going any thinner with this primary is risky as there are such high loads on this rope if it snags on anything it can break easily.
I then used a Harken T18 block and attached it to the bottom of the top T29 block using some thinner dyneema. Whilst you can use a bigger block, a T18 block underneath makes the system flow easier as the secondary line does not rub upon movement, therefore less friction.
At the kicker fitting near the bottom I have a simple loop with another T29 block, held up by my sailing watch.
My system works just like a 6:1 downhaul system, with an added block, so is very easy to rig and is just tied off at the bottom block by my watch as opposed to the top block by the foot of the sail.
As you can see by the picture above my downhaul system is also slanted forwards slightly to stop the rope getting caught in between the boom and the gooseneck.
In conclusion the 8:1 downhaul system is a must have upgrade for Laser sailors, especially standard sailors, and really helps make your Laser easy to control.
Here are the products which are used for Sam's 8:1 Laser downhaul system:
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