Rigging a Laser Sailboat: How To Rig & Launch a Laser Dinghy

best sailing watches

Before you head out on the water laser sailing, you have to rig your dinghy, and if you have never done this before, it may seem a little overwhelming.

There is no real order in which you should rig your Laser sailboat. There are many combinations and ways of rigging a laser sailboat, and that shown below is simply one combination. Talk to a few people as you rig up, have a few goes yourself, and you’ll work out which way works best for you.

It’s always good to rig up a few times at home before you head out laser sailing if it’s practical and safe to do so. This is recommended so that you are confident that you know what goes where, and so that you can remember how you tie the knots.

Rigging a Laser Sailboat Steps

As mentioned, there are many different ways when rigging a Laser sailboat. Below is 1 suggestion of the rigging sequence…

Before You Leave Home

Check The Weather

Check the forecast before you leave home, and look outside to check for yourself. Safety should be your first priority, so if the conditions are not suitable for your level of experience, then you may want to reconsider heading out.

Pack Your Gear

If you have been out sailing before, it’s a good idea to pack all your gear away neatly so that it is easy to find, This means that when you pack all your gear to head out sailing the next time, you will know where everything is and you won’t forget anything.

There is nothing worse than getting down to the waterfront and then start to rig your laser sailboat only to find that you have forgotten something crucial (eg. your sail or life jacket), and have to head home before you have made it out onto the water.

It’s easy to get excited about heading out for a great day on the water. However, before you leave, take a minute to check that you have everything packed.

When You Arrive At The Waterfront

Detach the Trailer/Dolly

If the trailer has to be detached from the car when parked, do this 1st. Then slide the dolly/trolley off the trailer, and position it relatively close to where you will launch, with the bow pointing into the wind.

rigging a laser sailboat - Laser dinghy on dolly and trailer
Laser dinghy on the dolly and trailer
Laser dinghy off trailer
Laser dinghy on the dolly, but off the trailer

Unpack Gear and Check

Unpack all your other laser sailing gear, including sail, ropes, foils, and spars, and lay it out to make sure it is all there.

Some people like to get dressed in their sailing gear before they start rigging their boat. If you get dressed at the start, then as soon as you have finished rigging, you can hit the water immediately. It also means that your sail won’t flog as much and cause any extra wear and tear and that your boat won’t accidentally tip over while on the dolly… which may happen especially if there is quite a strong breeze blowing.

Start Rigging Your Laser

Lay the boom on the deck. Feed the mainsheet rope through the blocks and eyelet on the boom, and through the block in the cockpit and the traveler.

It is advisable to tie a figure 8 knot in both ends of the mainsheet rope so that it doesn’t pull through when out on the water. At the boom end, this is so that the mainsheet can be pulled fully on so that it is in the block-to-block position. At the other end so that it doesn’t pull through the mainsheet block in the center of the cockpit.

Leave it loose and un-cleated. Feed the outhaul rope along the boom also.

Laser mainsheet attached to boom on deck
Laser mainsheet attached to the boom laying on the deck

Next to the hull, lay the sail out and install the battens. Connect the 2 mast sections, and feed it up through the mast sleeve in the sail, making sure the boom spigot is in line with the sail.

Also be careful to ensure that there is no mud or dirt on the bottom of the mast (this may over time cause abrasion between the bottom of the mast and the mast step, which may eventually compromise the integrity of the hull).

Laser batten laying on sail
Laser batten laying on sail
Laser batten partially inserted into sail
Laser batten partially inserted into the sail
Laser batten inserted into sail
Laser batten inserted into the sail

Ensuring there are no overhead obstructions (including power lines), from the bottom ½ of the mast, lift it up almost vertical (slightly leaning into the breeze may make it easier to handle), and slot it gently into the mast step hole. This may prove to be a little awkward, so obtain assistance if required

Laser sail without boom attached
Laser sail without boom attached

With the mast in place, slot the boom into the mast, and tie off the outhaul to the sail clew using a bowline, as shown in the knots section. Then attach the clew tie-down, making sure to tie it underneath the outhaul.

Close-up of laser clew tie-down and outhaul
Close-up of laser clew tie-down and outhaul

Attach the vang and cunningham. Tie a small loop in the end of the cunningham and feed the end of the vang pin through it. This will keep the eye of the cunningham down low near the deck, stopping it from riding up (see photo below). Then feed the cunningham through the 2 eyelets in the rope itself, then down to the eyelet on the deck, and run it back to the cleat in the cockpit. Tie a bowline in the end for easy gripping when on the water.

A knot (bowline or figure 8 knot) in the end of the cunningham is essential, as it is the only thing preventing the rig from becoming completely detached from the hull when capsized.

Laser cunningham and vang unattached
Laser cunningham and vang unattached
Laser cunningham and vang
Laser cunningham and vang

Attach the Rudder & Tiller

Attach the rudder, making sure that the lift stop clicks into place, and leave it in the fully up position. Insert the tiller and fasten the retaining pin, ensuring that the tiller is underneath the traveler.

Lay the centerboard on the deck. Put in the drain plug in the stern of the hull.

Laser rudder, tiller and tiller extension
Laser rudder, tiller, and tiller extension
sailing boots
Need some sailing boots, Click here to check out some options…

Tidy Up

With the mainsheet eased right out, the boat should sit quite contently while you tidy up your gear, sail bag, etc. However, if there is a breeze, be careful that your dinghy will not tip over while it is on the dolly, or that the boom will swing around and hit someone.

If it is windy, this is probably not the best time to be going out for a sail if you are a beginner.

If you are not already dressed in your wetsuit, rash vest, life jacket, hat, sunscreen, glasses, shoes, etc, now is the time to do so. It’s a good idea to get someone to keep an eye on your boat and laser sailing gear if you have to go to the change rooms.

Launching Your Dinghy

With the mainsheet eased, carefully wheel the dolly around, down the ramp, and into the water. Keep the laser sailboat pointing into the wind as much as possible, however as long as the mainsheet is eased you should be able to manage ok as long as the wind is less than 90° to the hull. If possible, do not allow the wind to exceed 90° to the hull.

Wheel the laser dolly into the water until it is fully submerged, and float the boat off the dolly. If you are on your own you may have to run the boat up onto the beach so that you can pull the dolly back out of the water (be careful not to damage the drain plug on the bottom of the hull, or the hull itself). Otherwise, get someone to pull your dolly out for you.

With the boat pointing into the breeze, slide the centerboard into the fin case so that it is most of the way up, but low enough so that the boom clears the fin when it swings around. Run the elastic retaining strap up to the eyelet at the bow and back to the centerboard or mast (the tension in the elastic creates friction so that the centerboard will remain in place when capsized).

If you are in deep enough water, you will be able to push the rudder down or pull the rope attached to the rudder head, to rotate the rudder to its fully down position. If this can’t be achieved, then you may have to wait until you push the boat into deeper water to do this. Once the rudder is down, tie off the line, and make sure that you do not hit it on the bottom. Take every precaution to protect your foils.

Now, you’re ready for your 1st sail.

Laser Sailing Dinghy De-rigging

When de-rigging, simply reverse the order of the above steps.

If possible thoroughly wash all your gear in fresh water and dry all your gear before storage.

Also take care when folding the laser sail to not create a crease in the sail window, as it will weaken and eventually crack.

Laser de-rigging - Folding the laser sail
Folding the laser sail

More Information

As mentioned, there are many different ways of rigging a Laser sailboat. Some have to do with personal preference of rigging order. Some differences also have to do with different types of gear and sailing accessories that you may have (eg. turbo kit, wind instruments, etc). We can’t cover every possible scenario here, so just have a go and see what works for you.

Also, make sure to check out the video below which talks some more about rigging a Laser sailboat, and enjoy your laser sailing 🙂

best sailing watches


  1. Kyle on April 14, 2023 at 7:42 am

    In the Laser cunningham and vang photo there appears to be extra ropes attached for the outhaul could you please describe what was done to achieve that

    • Admin on April 14, 2023 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Kyle
      The outhaul is a separate rope that runs from the clew of the mainsail up and around the mast and through a cleet to lock it off at the desired tension. It is separate from the cunningham and vang. You can see more about it here. I hope that this helps to answer your question. If not, let me know.

Leave a Comment