Laser ramp ready checklist

If you sail a Laser (also called ILCA Dinghy), and launch your boat on a ramp, you don’t want to be “that person” blocking the ramp and keeping others from launching. This can be stressful for everyone, especially when your fellow sailors are trying to get out in time for the starting signal of a race.

And at the end of the day, it can be annoying if you’re blocking others and taking a lot time to get your boat off the ramp and out of the water. No one likes a ramp hog!

So, here’s what you need to do before you get to the ramp so that everything works smoothly.

Laser launch checklist

The goal is to have almost nothing to do before you sail away from the ramp. The key to doing this, is to do everything you can to get your Laser ready BEFORE you get to the ramp:

  • Tiller extension secured in your tiller.
  • Tiller in your rudder, and tied up tight, with the tail twisted around the tiller so it won’t come out.
  • Rudder tucked under traveler, with rudder bolt forward of traveler so that it doesn’t slip out. (Laser rudders don’t float.) Below is an example of what you DON’T want to do, since the rudder/tiller combo can slip as soon as the boat is tipped into the water:
  • Traveler line pulled tight. Without this, the rudder/tiller combo and slip and sink.
  • Mainsheet rigged up.
  • Clew tie fully rigged up and tight.
  • Outhaul fully rigged up, and pulled tight so sail has less power and is more manageable if a puff of wind hits at an awkward time. Like this:
  • Cunningham full rigged up, and loose so that boom can go out easily.
  • Boom vang fully rigged up, and eased to the stopper knot; this way, the sail has less power and is more manageable if a puff hits unexpectedly. Have something in the vang key socket on the boom — shock cord, velcro, tape — so that the vang key doesn’t fall out. Like this:
  • Daggerboard placed in cockpit, with shockcord ready to hook up. It’s a good idea to place the leading edge down, touching the cockpit, so the trailing edge is in the air; this way you’ll avoid nicks. Like this:
  • Dolly rail riders placed in the down position, so boat is resting on strap. Like this:
  • Bowline is untied from dolly, with a couple of wraps around the handle if needed to keep the boat from slipping off.
  • Clothing be fully dressed. Hat on, sunglasses on, gloves on, etc. It never ceases to amaze me how someone rolls up to the ramp half dressed, then realizes they’ve forgotten something, and has to run a minute across the parking lot (not fun in a wetsuit!) to go get it. Simple solution: get fully dressed before you wheel your boat.
  • Lifejacket — have it on and zipped up.

Laser retrieval checklist

The goal here is to have your boat ready to slide onto your dolly. To do that, do the following before you’re at the ramp:

  1. Rudder & tiller tucked under traveler, with rudder bolt forward of traveler.
  2. Traveler pulled tight, so your rudder and tiller don’t sink.
  3. Daggerboard shockcord off, and daggerboard resting in cockpit, back tip up.
  4. Mainsheet knot untied. and mainsheet pulled completely off the boom, so boom can swing out 180 degrees if needed.
  5. Outhaul pulled tight so sail is more manageable.
  6. Vang fully eased to stopper knot
  7. Cunningham fully eased so it’s not stopping the boom from rotating.
  8. Dolly rail riders in down position, so boat will easily slide up on the strap.

All basic stuff, but if you do this, it’ll keep things moving and help everyone have a good time on the water.

Occasional thoughts on tech, sailing, and San Francisco