Offset Launcher Installation on USA 8012 (Waterat)

After 20+ years of sailing a bag boat, I decided it was time to make life better for the forward hand on 8012 by installing a launcher tube. The bag boat rig was great for the helm (easy up & easy down), but the crew found it to be a handful in big breeze and it was difficult to perform a starboard tack take-down at the leeward mark.

I was too cheap to pay a professional to do the job so after discussing the various kit options with other bag boat owners, Macy Nelson, Nick Nelson, & I decided to ask Larry Tuttle (Waterat Sailing Equipment) to see if he would design & fabricate a side launcher kit similar to the one he built into Morgan & Trevor's boat for the Santa Cruz Worlds. Larry has been building Bow Launcher kits (Tack aft) for years, however our thinking was that the side launcher would be less work for an amateur to install because the there would be no structural work required. The tack would remain forward and the deck beam would not have to be cut. There are also some sailors in the class that believe that the Jib Tack forward may be faster.

As with all of Larry' products, the Kit came with easy to follow instructions. Also a few of the progress photos as the work progresses. From beginning to end it took me about 30 hours of work. I made some fairing mistakes that added a few extra hrs of hand sanding. The deck and bulkhead cutting went very quickly after layout (measure twice & cut once). To get to the watertight bulkhead I turned the boat on it side and cut the diagonal bulkhead first to gain better access.

The tube and launcher mouth are two pieces, and must be fitted to the boat's deck curve, glued together in place, than taken out and glassed, then re-set in the boat and bonded in place. To get the tube in & out an extra cut is necessary and re-used later. I did a lot of the internal fairing w/ the tube out of the boat. After bonding the tube to the deck there was a little a fairing require at the deck joint. I did a cheapo paint job on the deck w/ spray paint (Car Color GM 7200 = Waterat Grey).

The hardest part of the job for me was the fairing at the watertight bulkhead and the aft end of the tube. It's just time-consuming to sand areas that are hard to get to. I made a few changes to the plan to save time, and that ended up costing me in the long run.

To avoid relocating the bow tank inspection port, I moved the aft end of the tube 2" to port. This made it much more time consuming to fair around the inspection port rim. I sanded thru to the Kevlar inside the tube which again required more fairing. I used a fillet joint on the aft end of the tube instead of a foam fairing which led to more sanding. All in all the job went quickly with little snags. A few hours after work each day to fair-in and place more epoxy and repeat the next day.

The big surprise was that there was little if any weight gain. The weight of the launcher & epoxy was offset by the removal of all the bag boat rigging that was no longer necessary.

We have sailed the boat w/ the new side launcher in a few regattas and have found it to be very similar to the bow launcher boats I have raced recently. One issue which holds true for all forward tack boats is that one needs to be careful not to drop the spin sheet's over the bow. I set my boat up so the helm or the crew can pull the kite up and down. So far we have found it best for the helm to pull it up and the forward hand take it down.

Many thanks to Larry Tuttle for his fine work. Larry can be reached at Waterat Sailing Equipment in Santa Cruz, CA at (831)768-1520 or by email.

Photos for the project: 











Henry Amthor, USA 9041

USA 8012 is now owned by Whit Duncan.