Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hands On: Harken Laser Blocks

Last week we let you know about the new Laser blocks that should be available at the end of the month. We've even had a bunch of people pre-order them already, so kudos to you early adopters.

Since then I managed to get my hands on a set of these and install them on my boat. I took them out for a spin during the weeknight racing we hold here at SSA on Tuesday nights. Unfortunately the weather didn't fully cooperate with my plans as the we mostly drifted around in a breeze that varied between 0 and 3 knots.

Never the less I was impressed with the new blocks and I got a few comments from some of the other Laser sailors out on the course - so at the very least these new blocks will totally make you look cooler. And everybody knows that looking cool is the first step to going fast.

Here's a video we shot before I went out sailing talking about the differences between the new and old blocks. Sorry for the intermittent applause, there was an awards ceremony going on for the Snipe Women's Nationals that had just concluded - which was won by Carol Cronin and Annapolis local Kim Couranz by the way. There are some more detailed technical specs below the video.

Weight Comparison
Old Laser BlocksNew Harken Blocks
Traveler Block2.7 oz (including shrink wrap)2.5 oz
Aft Boom Block1.71.6
Forward Boom Block1.51.3
Total5.9 oz5.4 oz

So the new blocks are 0.5 oz lighter which is a littler more than a 8% reduction in weight. Is that significant? I can't imagine anyone would ever actually notice that small of a weight difference. If you're doing an Olympic campaign than sure, every little bit counts, but for most of us that's not the big selling point here.

The blocks all measure pretty similarly. The distance between the bearing surfaces of the sheaves on the new traveler block is 1/8" further apart than on the old blocks but Laser Performance assures me that the over distance when the traveler and the boom block nest together is the same. I still need to measure the overall traveler line to boom distance with both of them and will put those measurements up this weekend after I have a chance to put a tape measure on both setups.

Overall the new Harken boom and traveler blocks seem pretty cool and I think will be a welcome new change (albeit a small one) in a class that's been pretty static for a while.

I'll be using the blocks this weekend at the Laser Radial & 4.7 ACCs here at SSA so any additional feedback I have I'll post as a comment here.


  1. Sweet.

    Also, kudos for most annoying laugh track ever.

  2. Pointless, lots of other more pressing areas that need updating.

  3. That's because the class is only interested in pointless updgrades that don't change anything. Sign up for a different class if you don't like it.

    I don't think this (and definitely not the vang/cunn) were totally pointless, and frankly I'm sure happy to see those god awful blue blocks gone.