Glossary

A list of common terms used throughout Laser 2 Land and their meanings.

Aft
At or towards the stern (rear end) of the boat.
Block
A pulley. A device with a wheel with a groove in it used to change the direction of rope under strain. Can be used in series or parallel to improve the purchase ratio on a line.
Bow
(Rhymes with cow.) The forward part of a boat.
Bowline
(Pronounced bo-lin.) It is the knot used to make an eye or a loop in rope's end. It is one of the very few knots that every sailor should know. Commonly used on the Laser 2 to attach lines to the sails (eg sheets to the spinnaker, or outhaul to the mainsail), tie halyards to the heads of sails, and many other uses.
Buoy
An anchored float used for marking a position on the water. Usually made of steel or moulded plastics for a permanent mark (eg mooring buoys or channel markers), or an inflatable plastic for temporary racing marks. A race course (and often the start line) will usually be marked out by a series of temporary or permanent buoys.
Buoyancy Aid
Also known as a PFD in some parts of the world, this is a type of life jacket designed primarily with sporting use in mind. They are generally only designed to hold a conscious person afloat, and are generally shaped to allow greater freedom of movement than a full lifejacket.
Cleat
A device designed to grip rope and hold it in place. Also camcleat; clamcleat.
Cockpit
The recessed area in the deck of the boat in which the crew works.
Fairlead
A small hoop, or tunnel, that guides a line, or protects a line from fouling.
Foreguy
See Forestay.
Forestay
GRP
GRP refers to the type of materials that the Laser II hull is made out of, it means that the hull is made out of combination of fibre glass and plastic. (GRP is short for Glass-Reinforced Plastic).
Halyard
The line used to hoist a sail, generally attached to the head of the sail and then runs down through the mast to a cleat at the bottom, where it can be used to tension the luff.
Handicap
A system often used when racing mixed fleets of boats to attempt to even out the different performances of the boats and enable boats that have different performance capabilities to race fairly against each other. There are various different methods for applying the handicap to a boat's score or time in a race, one such is the RYA's Portsmouth Yardstick scheme.
Helm
  1. The tiller.
  2. The entire steering gear of the the boat (the tiller, tiller extension, rudder and fittings).
  3. The directional control of a boat (eg she's very light on the helm, or she has quite a weather helm)
  4. The person steering the boat (see also Helmsman).
Helmsman
Often shortened to 'Helm', the person steering the boat. In a Laser 2 the Helmsman generally sits towards the rear of the cockpit and holds the tiller and mainsheet, controlling both the mainsail and the steering of the boat.
Hull
The main body of a boat.
Life Jacket
A floatation vest designed to be capable of holding an unconscious person afloat in the water, with their face upward and away from the water. There are various types designed for different purposes; some formed out of hard foam, some need to be inflated by blowing into a small valve on the front and some fold-up and have an automatic gas bottle to inflate them as soon as they're immersed in water. Whilst these are the safest form of floatation device to be wearing if you are knocked into the water, their size and shape can make them cumbersome, leading many racers to wear a Buoyancy Aid instead, which are only designed to offer extra floatation to a conscious swimmer.
Mast
Main vertical spar used to support sails and their running rigging and in turn is supported by standing rigging, such as the shrouds and forestay.
PFD
See Buoyancy Aid.
Port
The left side of a boat looking forward. Always the left-hand side of the boat itself, irrespective of which direction any of the people on board may be looking in.
Port tack
Sailing with the wind on the port side of the boat, and the mainsail out to starboard.
Portsmouth Yardstick Number
Also known as 'Portsmouth Number'. This is a relative measure of a boat's all round performance and speed, it is often used to calculate a boat's handicap when working out the results for a race involving mixed fleets of boats of different types and classes. The lower the number is, the faster the boat is.
The RYA run the Portsmouth Yardstick scheme whereby they take the returns of racing results from clubs all around Britain and calculate each class's Portsmouth Number, they then publish this list of adjusted numbers annually (links to the RYA's web site and their Portsmouth Yardstick scheme are on Laser 2 Land's links page).
The Laser II's Number can be seen on the Facts and Figures page.
Reach
To sail with wind on the side (or beam) of the boat.
Run
To sail downwind; sailing with the wind coming from directly behind the boat.
Shrouds
Spinnaker
The large, flappy, often multi-coloured, triangular, parachute-like sail that is flown out in front of the jib and forestay, attached to the mast and a spinnaker pole. The spinnaker works a bit like an umbrella on a windy day, you hoist it up at the front of the boat and it catches the wind and pulls you forwards. It is used when running downwind and when reaching across the wind, and it is stowed in the spinnaker chute when not in use. It gives you a lot of extra speed and acceleration and will definitely put a smile on your face in a decent wind!
Spinnaker Chute
The tube inside the foredeck where the spinnaker is stowed whilst beating, and where it is launched from when hoisted.
Spinnaker Pole
Also known as a 'Spinnaker Boom'. On the Laser II, the spinnaker pole is a lightweight aluminium tube about 2.5m long, one end of it is attached to a ring on the forward edge of the mast, the other to a corner of the spinnaker. It is used to control and add stability to the spinnaker, and allows the foot of the sail to be held open. The spinnaker pole is normally stowed alongside the boom when not in use.
Starboard
The right side of a boat when looking forward. Always the right-hand side of the boat itself, irrespective of which direction any of the people on board may be looking in.
Starboard tack
Sailing with the wind on the starboard side of the boat and the mainsail out to port.
Stern
The after (or back) end of a boat.
Yardstick
See Portsmouth Yardstick Number.