Thursday, January 9, 2014

Leech Telltales

I have been practicing recently and trying to get a feel/understanding of the sail shape and how to set controls. I have a long way to go, but one thing that I really can't get a handle on is how to use the leech telltales. On my sail I have leech telltales just below each batten.

I have searched the internet and the books I have on Laser sailing and there just don't seem to be much. Some books don't even mention them at all. When they do, it is just an offhand remark such as "they should be streaming if the sail is well trimmed".

I have experimented and for me the leech telltales seemed to stream (on a beat) more often when the windward telltales were not streaming. When I have both the windward and leeward streaming the leech ones did not.

Can any readers enlighten me?  Do you use your leech telltales?  Do you give priority to the others?

What do you do when the windward/leeward telltales are streaming but the leech ones are not?


  1. I wish I could help.

    If we had options about which sail or mast to use, then they would be important. But as a strict one-design class we're stuck with the one design, so setting a Laser sail is always a compromise. In light air, we have to destroy the top of the sail in light air with too much vang in order to keep the boom down and out. For this reason, I have never used leach telltales.

    At the recent open worlds in Oman, I did not see a single person use them. There were discussions about where Robert Scheidt placed his telltales - he had a single set at the front of his sail.

  2. As Doug says, none of the top sailors in a Laser seem to use them any more (if they ever did). I put a set on when I got a Laser and had the same trouble as you had – I couldn’t get them to fly in a way that was consistent with sailing fast. I think it is just part of having an unstayed rig with a bendy mast. A number of top sailors have used a set at the same height as the top batten but one to two feet in from the mast – Ben Ainslie has a bit about it in his Laser book. Essentially, he says if the top telltales indicate the sail is under-trimmed while the bottom telltales are flying then the vang is too loose, and the vice versa would also apply. However, this is on a reach, not a beat: as for beating, the only telltales they refer to using are the luff telltales, with sail shape dictated by the need to power up or de-power.



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