As we all know the Laser is a simple boat. Just you, four ropes and a sail. So if you want to win in a Laser you need to have all areas completely covered. There is no reason or excuse to have poor gear on your Laser. The cost of losing a race because of gear failure or even just a general lack of speed because of equipment is inexcusable. However, being a one design boat takes a lot of our choice out of what gear we use but in this there are a few exceptions and one of these is the tiller.
There are a wide range of tillers you can buy and I’m going to hopefully put you on the path to finding the correct one for you.
So what makes a good tiller? First of all it needs to be stiff. 20 years ago aluminum tillers would have been an acceptable choice but in our modern age with newer and lighter fabrics always emerging on the market the Laser world has shifted to carbon. Carbon allows you to have a lightweight tiller that is stiff and responsive. The benefits of this are many but mainly because:
1. It gives you better feel for the rudder
2. It allows you to have a tiller that sits low under the traveler
3. It means the tiller won’t flex while under pressure and hit the traveler deck cleat
But just because it’s carbon doesn’t mean it’s the best as there is still a huge array of carbon brands to choose from. When looking for a tiller some of the best points to look for are:
- Thickness – you want a tiller that is as thin as possible without giving up rigidity to allow the traveler to pass smoothly through tacks.
- Weight – Just as a cyclist looks to save grams on his bike wherever he can so do we as sailors look to save weight on our boats
- Simplicity – A tiller that is easy to use and reliable in any situation. You don’t need the best looking tiller, just the one that functions the best.
I personally have been using the same tiller for the last 3 years. It doesn’t matter what boat I am sailing or where, I will always have my tiller with me because I know I can trust it to perform consistently. In the long run the extra bit of money you fork over for a good tiller will pay you back 10 fold. I hope you can use this as a guide the next time you decide to buy a new tiller.
See you on the water,
Check out our Tillers and Extensions here.