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One of the preferred ways of transporting a laser is on top of a car. Building a roof rack to support the boat is a good idea.  If built properly a roof rack can support the boat and keep it from stressing from being tied down too hard.  The Thule rack system is highly recommended for commercially built racks.  One of the biggest problems with cartopping is getting the boat on top of the car.  If you have a regular car it is not too bad but if you have a van it can be a little bit more difficult.  Some interesting methods have been developed to help with this problem.


Roof Racks

Tying Down

Car-Specific Advice

Loading Methods


web site:
dealer locator: here


web site:
dealer locator: here


If you go with a Thule or any kind of roof rack make sure the bars are about 6 inches longer than a Laser is wide. When you put it together offset the bars about 6 inches to one side so they stick out. Then you can tie your spars on where they stick out. 

I've got a Taurus wagon and my old Thule rack for the Chrysler wouldn't fit. To buy the parts to make it fi was about $135!!! 

Because the wagon comes with custom rack i had something to tie the boat down to. So I made a rack. I used 2 pieces of 1x4 wood and then made a roof mold out of 1/2 inch styrofoam building insulation. I cut the insulation into strips 4" wide same as the wood. Taped the first piece to the roof of the wagon where the rack goes. Glued one piece to the 1x4. Put the 1x4 styrofoam side down on top of the styrofoam taped to the wagon. Centered and levelled it. Then cut a styrofoam wedge to fit the gap each side. You have to use glue to hold the pieces together. Did this once for the back and once for the front. Took each of the 2 racks and covered them with duct tape. Result - great racks which spread the load evenly over the roof of the wagon. Cost - less than $10. But you have to have a vehicle that has something you can tie the whole thing down to on the roof. 

Allan B 1416


To: laser@polecat.Law.Indiana.Edu
Subject: cartopping
Date: Tue, 31 May 94 11:33:58 EDT

The Laser Email Archives


by Helen Gerald

I carry a Laser on top of my Cavalier hatchback, where the boat and the car are just about the same length. The roof bars are too close, and can't be moved as they are secured to four fixed mounting points. (by worryingly small screws, must buy an estate car next year but evidently not a Mondeo...). The boat seems fine. Hints: 

- use wide webbing straps and use two sets for security. 
- most standard roof racks are too short. Make a set of four wooden wedges which go between the rack and the boat to support it properly. 
- roof rack padding tubes are good. If parking by the seaside and leaving the car for a fair while, take them off or the seagulls peck them to pieces! 
- secure front and rear: front from the bow eye to your car's towing eye, rear from the rudder fitting to the eye on the car that was used to secure it to the transporter. 
- if transporting your trolley on top, remove the wheels as they will make your petrol consumption rocket. 
- I find that the top mast section is too long to go in the car, so it can be secured on top by tying it to the trolley. 
- no faster than 60mph please. 

Loading is fun. Himself has developed a single-handed technique that makes use of the grassy reservoir bank at our club; he puts the boat there, flips it over on to its deck, reverses the car up to the bank and then lifts the bow on to the rear roof bar. He can then push the boat forwards until it is in the right place. (Watch your aerial) Otherwise two at a minimum to lift the boat, and three makes it a lot easier. 

nb car designers are now developing a bad habit of reducing the width of the boot opening, making it much harder to get your foil bag in. My previous Cavalier was a lot better for this. Oh well. 


49813 'Yellow Submarine' 164506 'Newforold (In the Drink II)' Island Barn Reservoir SC


To: "'laser'" <>
Subject: car-topping
From: Gerald Helen
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 10:00:00 +0100

The Laser Email Archives

Cartopping Speeds

The best way to cartop, is to put 2x4 roof rack across the Laser's mast step opening, and a 2nd 2x4 across the very back of the cockpit. Make sure the boat is tied securely across these supported areas with rope that is not going to chafe away on the Laser's beam rail. Put something soft here between the Laser's rail and the rope (a cover works great). I use a "trucker's knot" at each fastening point (gives you 2 to 1 purchase for tightening). Also make sure that the roof racks are securely fastened to the car's roof (as tight a you can get them).

You can go as fast as you want at this point, although I don't believe that exceeding the posted speed limit serves anyone. It just wears out your tires faster and burns more gas.

Does your Ford escort have a metal gutter rail? If so, go buy some Yakima brand gutter rail posts with a flat upper surface and bolt your 2x4s to them. Staple some padded indoor/outdoor carpeting to the 2x4s. Cheap, effective, and safe.

I've been cartopping my Laser for years and have never had a problem. I replace my tie-down line whenever it begins to look chafed or weak. I check to be sure that my roof racks are securely fastened to the gutter rail and that my tie down line is tight each time I stop for gas. You'll do fine if you do this too.

Another thing that I have is $300,000 liability insurance on a boat owner's policy from Allstate. The policy cost me $51 per year, and covers me while racing and transporting my Laser. This is not a bad thing to have.

Have confidence and good luck.


Jim Richmond
District 23 Secretary

Cartopping Speeds(ing)

I'd say that depends upon the car, the driver, the conditions, the traffic, and the confidence you have in how well you've tied the boat to the car. Following Jim R.'s directions should take care of the latter. The rest is up to your judgment.

I car topped a Laser through Montana in April on top of my little BMW, (don't  laugh, the guy I delivered it to was trailering it behind a Porsche!). I had brand new Thule racks and a super tie-down job done by my engineer husband. Although they have now re-instated them, at that time there were no speed limits in Montana. It was a beautiful, warm sunny week day with absolutely no traffic at all (that's why Montana had no speed limits for so long - there's nobody on those highways!), and I LOVE to drive fast.

When I got over 90 or so, the car did start to feel a little "light" on it's feet. I think because of the boat's shape, it acts as a wing, just a bit. When there was a cross-wind, I had to slow down quite a bit. If you get Yakima racks, you can get an air dam for the front rack that prevents the wind from getting between the boat and the car, so that should prevent this "lift" phenomenon.

It certainly did affect the gas mileage, by about 2 to 3 mpg.


Use your judgement! If the car feels fine going 60, try 65 etc. You'll know  when the boat starts to affect the car's behavior and when you start feeling  uncomfortable.

Lainie Pardey- who drives and sails by the adage "lead, follow, or get  out of the way!"

Weight of Boat

by Pete Sykes

Putting a boat/canoe/windsurf/skis on the roof generates lift as you drive along either due to the shape of the hull or the attitude to the wind. Most roof rack manufacturers and car manufacturers give load figures for weight which I suspect are really static figures. So you can, within reason, ignore the weight limit (Which I think is stupidly low on some cars i.e. Hondas) and worry about the boat flying off upwards instead. 

I don't know any ways to avoid this other than buy a car with real gutters ( Audi 80 - old model - works well) or roof rails bolted onto the roof. Then back it all up with ropes to the bumpers front and rear. However don't over tighten the ropes or you bend the boat (Or if its a Lada, - the car) 

I'm looking for a road trailer for the laser for this very reason but I'm looking for one which will also take bikes, windsurfs canoes ... as well so I haven't found it yet. 



To:, laser@polecat.Law.Indiana.Edu
Subject: Re: cartopping w/ Honda CRX
From: Pete Sykes <>
Date: Tue, 31 May 94 15:06:29 BST

The Laser Email Archives

Cartopping vs. Trailering

by David Hazlehurst


I have carried a Laser on the top of my Saab for years with few if any problems. The Thule rack that I use would be even better if I had cross members that were six inches longer so I didn't have to tuck the spars under them. I also have a Kitty Hawk trailer that I rarely use because I prefer car topping. But I do plan to buy the spar holders that Ken Hopkins at Kitty Hawk sells. 

But car topping on a Honda Accord should be no problem and I know Thule sells racks for these cars because I can see one on the street from where I am sitting. As I recall my rack cost less than $100 from a Saab dealer so you should be able to do at least as well as that. 


Good luck. 

Home made Roof Rack

When car-topping a laser the roof rack, on a car/van/etc., might not fit the boat right. An easy solution to this is to build bunks that sit on top of the roof-rack. The bunks I made were very easy to make. They are basically 2X4's covered by carpet. The 2X4's I used were about 57" long. The length is not very important so long as the bunks support a laser. I covered the bunks with carpet. I also made sure all the staples I used were pushed all the way in by going over all of them with a hammer. On the topside of the bunk a staple not pushed in all the way could scratch the boat.

On one side of each bunk I put to eye-hooks. (the side of the 2X4 that is only 1") Each eye-hook lined up with the roof rack. I tied the bunks down to the roof rack using the eye-hooks.

The eye-hooks kept the bunks from sliding from side to side. When the bunks are finished they go on top of the existing rack across the width of the vehicle. If you have no place to put your spars you could make the bunks longer. You could then off-center the boat and put the spars on the other side of the bunks. For more on transporting spars see Transporting Spars


Another thing that you could do with these bunks is mount them on Quick-n-easy Mounting Brackets.  They are about $49 and can be bought through sailing equipment stores.

by Jon Deutsch

Homemade Rack

By Bill Warren

Cartopping Advice

by Malcolm Osborne

I found (to my cost) that standard crosswise accessory metal roofracks are a bit short for a Laser. Unless you have a very long vehicle, one of the racks will go across the cockpit. The cockpit corners will rest on the rack, but this area of the Laser isn't very strong. I modified my racks by screwing wide planks down to make the racks longer than the Laser's beam. I put closed cell polyurethane foam blocks under the gunnels so that the boat is supported in this area rather than the center. I supposed padded, shaped racks would be the ideal so as to spread the load evenly over the whole area. By all means put fore and aft ties to the bumpers, but don't tighten too hard or you will either bend the boat or your racks. The main purpose should be to counteract wind pressure tending to lift the boat. 

I havn't had any experience with lengthwise racks as custom fitted to station wagons, but I should imagine that also, good padding (an old mattress would be good) would be required to prevent damage to the boat. 

Malcolm Osborne 
Pretoria South Africa 

>>> William Davis King <
> Wednesday, 16 April 1997 18:53 
>>> I'm about to cartop a laser to a regatta for the first time, and I'm looking for a little simple advice: 
1) Are there any good pictures/ tying down advice out there? the laser FAQs, as best I can tell, only describe how to get it up there (and personally, I think "get a bunch of people to help lift it" to be a better plan for my back and my laser ;-)) 
2) I've got a ford explorer with the standard roof rack. I figure I put the laser on the roof rack, tie it to the rack and with some lines to the bumpers, and hit the road. However, the roof rack has a sticker that says "do not use for over 100 pounds." Is this going to be a problem? I know a laser's a bit over 100 pounds, but is this going to hurt the boat or risk it falling off, or is it just going to risk crushing my roof rack? Do laser sailors normally have to install better-than-original roofracks before cartopping? Does anyone use an explorer and has it worked well? 

Davis King


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Cartopping advice -Reply
From: Malcolm Osborne <>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 12:43:26 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Building a Roof Rack

by Ted Packard

For racking my laser
 I use a set of "Quick-N-Easy" gutter clamps which I paid ~$30 for 20 years ago. These are cast aluminum brackets which clamp to your rain gutter. I believe the Quick-N-Easy brackets are still available. 

Then get a 10' clear 2 X 4 at your local lumber yard. Cut it in half and attach with 3/8" bolts to the brackets. 

This will give you a much stronger rack than either the cheep hardware store racks or the expensive sporting goods store racks. 

At the right end of each rack I have a 6" x 18" X 3/4" piece of plywood screwed on sticking straight up. Each piece has three ~3" dia holes in it. I tie the laser down with two motorcycle tie down straps over it, Slide the spars into the holes, Stick a bungee cord around the spars and I'm off. 

If you have a wagon and can get the racks a good distance apart you don't need the ropes to the bumpers. 

By swaping the 2 x 4's I also rack bikes, canoes, and ice boats. Each pair of 2 x 4's has custom brackets for that equipment. 

Ted Packard


To: laser@polecat.Law.Indiana.Edu
Subject: RACKS: Cheep hardware store VS expensive fancy
From: Ted Packard <>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 10:02:28 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Cartopping Without a Roof Rack

by Clifton Bancroft

cpg wrote:- 

"I am going to be cartopping a Laser this weekend and have a mid-size car to do it on, but no roof rack...does anyone have any words of wisdom/warning on this procedure? 

My intention is to just lay down some hard foam, then "strap-her-on", with the spars lashed to the side of the boat..." 

Dear cpg, 

I've done this twice. Once with a pair of Hobie 16 hulls and once with a Laser. 

To stop the load sliding about while under way I "strapped-her-on" rather firmly. Both times this pushed in the roof panels but I was able to pop them back undamaged with a shove from inside the car. 

I recommend you put extra foam layers along the roof edges where the car frame is, to prevent the load from bearing on the middle of the roof. 

I also found that the load shifted a bit on curves or bumps, forcing me to stop occasionally to check or rearrange it. A rubber bath mat or carpet underlay between the roof and foam might provide enough friction to help keep things in place. 

Without a rack I couldn't find any tidy, secure way of tying the spars along side the Laser and they ended up bundled and padded and riding on the centreline of the upturned hull. No problem. 

Good luck, 
Clifton Bancroft 
145543 'Take a Hike' 
RPDYC Malaysia


Subject: cartopping a Laser without a roof rack
Date: Thu, 09 Jan 97 09:30:46

The Laser Email Archives

2x4's and Carpet

by Jim Richmond

I just have the parts of the carrier that attach to the gutter rail. I put wood 2x4's across them. I stapled carpet to the 2x4's. I tie the boat to the racks with hemp rope (chafe-resistant). I have taken my laser on the roof of my toyota van at least 15,000 miles this way. No problems. Wood is more flexible than metal. It forms to the slight curvature of the deck very nicely. 

Jim Richmond 


Subject: Re: laser boat carrier
From: "James E. Richmond" <>
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 18:59:49 -0700

The Laser Email Archives

Old Tires

by Scott Fox

I've seen people use two old tires between the roof and their isn't pretty but it seemed to work..I would try to use soft foam not hard foam, maybe old throwable lifecushions to help absorb the shock..or better yet spend the $100 for a good roof rack, Thule or Yackama.... Scott Fox The Boathouse


Subject: Re: Car topping - without a rack?
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997 06:59:26 -0500 (EST)

The Laser Email Archives

Well Anchored Rack

by Kent Leverich

You definitely need to have well-anchored racks. The first set of racks I had for my Ford Exploder attached to the tracks for the factory luggage rack . This was OK for a windsurf or spars, but I never had the nerve to try it with my Laser. If I had, upforce from wind getting under the boat would have probably torn the tracks right off the car. 

I now have a bar in front that attaches to the door frame. This provides a more solid attachment point. My rear bar is still in the factory tracks, but I don't think this is nearly as much a problem. 

I didn't like drilling holes in my car, but it's better than seeing your Laser flying away in your rearview mirror. 

Kent Leverich 


To: <>
Subject: Re: Boat on roof bars
From: "Kent Leverich" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 21:57:19 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Well Anchored Roof Rack

by Marcel van Loon

Hi Paul, 

The Dutch Laser distributor told me the following story a couple of weeks ago: 

Someone just bought a brand new Laser, strapped it onto the roof bars on his car, and started the journey back home. Near Amsterdam (he already traveled for about an hour or so) the roof bars came of...including the Laser, which was damaged beyond repair! 

This guy was insured, so he returned to the distributor to pick up a new hull, which he apparently transported back home without further problems. 

In view of this story, I'd like to give you the following advise: 

Not only strap the hull secure to your roof bars, make also sure that your roof bars are well secured to your car! 

Make sure you're insured! 

Drive savely and have fun Lasering! 

Marcel van Loon (163834) 

> -----Original Message----- 
> From: []On Behalf Of 
> Paul Nix 
> Sent: Sunday, May 31, 1998 8:35 AM 
> To: Laser List 
> Subject: Boat on roof bars 

> Hello, > 
> I normally carry my laser on a combi-trailer, however this year I 
> have been 
> lent a caravan so I am going to carry the laser and trolley on roof bars. 

> Are there any secrets/things to watch out for when carrying laser and 
> trolley in this fashion? > 
> Thanks, Paul Nix


To: <>
Subject: RE: Boat on roof bars
From: "Marcel van Loon" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 21:11:24 +0200

The Laser Email Archives

Just Buy It / Tie Downs

by Steve Borgstrom

Richard Hengst <> writes: 
>Anyone got any good ideas on building a cheap cartop rack for a 1996 
>Civic Hatchback.

Cheap is a relative term. Assuming you want to cartop your Laser, what is it worth to be certain you and the boat will arrive at your destination together. 

I went through the same thought process last summer when I decided to get my boat out of my mother's garage (after 14 years!) and get it to where I could use it. A an inveterate DIY kind of guy I was going to build a rack for my 2 door '93 Toyota Tercel sedan when She Who Must Be Obeyed objected. End result was a really nice, useful rack from the good folks at Yakima for about $300. If you feel really cheap just buy the risers and extension kit and find the pipes someplace else, make sure you get them as wide as possible so you have someplace to hang the mast and boom. My rack probably adds 18" to the overall width of the car. 

The next trick is getting the hull tied down to the car, I made up a harness of sorts (5/16" clothes line) that pulled the hull down onto rack from the towing points under the front and rear bumpers and backed that up with some nylon tie-downs from my motorcycle trailer. We made the 1200 mile trip from San Louis Obispo CA to Seattle WA in one shot, no problems. 

With a little ingenuity you can make it work, just don't drive too fast or close behind large trucks (bad buffeting) and you should be fine. 

Steve Borgstrom 
Federal Way WA


Subject: Re: LASER digest 231/cheap rack
From: (S Borgstrom)
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 22:40:06 -0800

The Laser Email Archives

Cartopping without a Roof Rack

by Ross Fleming

> cpg wrote:- 

> "I am going to be cartopping a Laser this weekend and have a mid-size 
> car to do it on, but no roof rack...does anyone have any words of 
> wisdom/warning on this procedure? 

> My intention is to just lay down some hard foam, then "strap-her-on", 
> with the spars lashed to the side of the boat..." 

I have transported lasers, laser>>s, and FJs this way on a variety of vehicles (don't tell the university about what we have been doing to the vans). In a pinch you can use lifejackets as padding but I prefer thick pieces of closed cell foam that is as wide as the roof and longer than its height. I have seen people use old mattress for cartopping boats also. Be aware that you must arrange the boat so that the side decks are supported since the cockpit will compose most of the area under the overturned boat. I use lines/straps through the doors separated by as much distance for and aft as possible. You should also tie down the bow and stern very well to prevent both sideways movement and keep the boat from slipping off if you have to stop suddenly. I never have found a good thing to do with spars but they can be lashed to the tiedowns above the doors if you put padding in the right places. I also remember tying off to a rear view mirror one time.

Ross Fleming 
O- Seattle, Wa. rossflem at or


Subject: Re: cartopping a Laser without a roof rack
From: (Ross Fleming)
Date: Thu, 09 Jan 1997 07:00:33 GMT

The Laser Email Archives

Tying down a Laser

by Robert Williams

There is a web site with pointers to various ideas for cartopping,

including my own solution on a Ford Ranger with a canopy.

Make sure you tie the front of the boat so it can't rotate (ie a V tie from the bow to both ends of the front bumper). Sidewinds tend to push it around. 

Use something stout to secure it from moving forward in event of emergency stop/ fender bender. Imagine your low flying Laser going in the back window of the car in front of you. I tie a line thru the hiking strap and to the trailor hitch safety. 


I just got an Astro van with a roof rack. It's so tall I don't think my old technique will work. I'm considering a trailor at the moment. 


Cartopping with a Ford Explorer


I have a Ford Explorer which lists the same weight limits. No problems here!  I simply Duct tape foam padding on the racks and use 2 rachet tie downs and a bow line to the front bumper. It works fine.


Cartopping with a Ford Explorer

by Will Gorgen

I also have a ford Explorer and although I have not yet had to put my Laser up there, I have had 4 windsurfers and gear totalling more than the weight of a laser on top. couple of things: 

1) Do not use the Standard Rack! It will bend and probably break under the load of a laser. You will probably make it to the regatta, but you may not and that is a chance I am not willing to take. (I actually help design explorers and there is not much to those racks). 

2) Go buy yourself a Thule (or other manufacturer) Rack. Thule makes fittings that allow you to clamp the rack to the track on the top of the car and that will provide a much stronger rack than the one that Ford provides. 

3) Tie the boat to the Car as well as the rack. If your explorer is fairly new, it will have little tie down loops in the track. Use those to tie down the boat. You should also tie the boat with straps or sope (I recommend straps as they leave less of a dent in the hull) directly to the rack and get it good and tight. You would be amazed at how much force a sharp corner at good speed can create on a fairly heavy load like a laser. 

Good luck! 

Will Gorgen


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: Cartopping advice
From: "William Gorgen" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 13:03:32 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Cartopping with a Four-Door Sedan

By Will Sadler

Thule racks with pads really work well if they make one that fits your car. Kind of expensive though. 

Your gas mileage goes way down when cartopping, as does the power curve. People with 4 door type sedans don't seem to have as many problems as those of us with small square underpowered truck like vehicles. YMMV. 

Another problem to consider is where the racks hit the boat. You don't want them centered in the middle of the hull where it is weakest. Ideal is under the mast step and just back of the cockpit, but that is rarely possible. 



Cartopping and Short Cars

Well, when I bought my first Laser in Canada in 1977, I owned a Mini.

You uninformed Americans who don't know what a Mini is have led deprived existences. Made in England by Austin, it was the first real econo-box. Twenty years before the little Honda Civics came out, all England (and a goodly portion of Canada, Japan and Australia) were driving Minis. A Mini is @ 2 feet shorter than the original Honda Civic. They stopped importing Minis into the US in 1968 and into Canada in 1977 because they couldn't meet the 5mph bumper requirements. My 1976 Mini got 51 mpg. around town.

So, a Mini is quite a bit shorter than a Laser.

I was 19, and cartopped my Laser on my Mini because I couldn't afford a trailer, and besides these gorgeous hunky sailors always would offer to help me unload it . .. I had a set of Ranger Racks that held the boat and the spars nicely. As long as I tied the boat carefully so it couldn't slide fore and aft, it worked nicely.

I just drove around with the boat on the car all summer, because it was too hard to unload it between Sundays and Wednesdays. I could always find the car in the parking lot, it kept the sun out of the windows, and in rainy Vancouver, much more important, it saved me from having to fix my windshield wipers. Mini's have electricity by Lucas - if you Americans haven't heard about that, ask me for my "Smoke" story.

A guy did comment once that it looked like I could just turn the whole rig over, and go sailing with the car on the boat . ..


I still have a Mini - a '67 Cooper S, right-hand drive. When I'm too decrepit to sail my Laser, I'm going to blow the local Autocross Club away. It is THE most fun car in the world to drive.

Lainie Pardey

No Easy Solution

by John Fracisco

I have a similar problem (1997 Acura Integra), except I have a shorter roofline. There's no easy solution. If you try to use commercial rack systems (i.e. Yakima, Thule), you'll find yourself in the $250 range, and still lacking decent support. If you try to use a "soft rack" system of webbing and heavy-duty pipe insulation, you still don't have anywhere to secure the back end (I don't consider using the wheel arches to be smart). You could try to "mimic" the Yakima system, which uses two supports per side on the front doors, with a an extender that goes back and rests about 2 feet behind the front support (Purdue's an engineering school, draw it out). Best solution may be a trailer. You might be able to get away with a used trailer, or abandoned trailer (I'm not saying go out and buy that Trailex or Kittyhawk on your budget). Oh, and that trailer hitch will run you, too. Maybe two of you could split the cost on a trailer, someone will probably get a job after college and be able to pay off the other ;) There are some killer Laser trailer ideas out on the web (and in the archives). My problem with a trailer is that I don't have anywhere to store it (trailer spots at the yacht club are a lot more expensive than bottom rack spots which fit a Seitech perfectly). (I've been relying heavily on the club's junior program: where they go I go, if there's a spot on the trailer.) 

John Fracisco 162136 

Date: 1/26/98 11:10 AM 
To: John Fracisco From: 

Anyone got any good ideas on building a cheap cartop rack for a 1996 Honda Civic Hatchback. The problem is that there is no real rain gutter, and no windows to open at the back of the car. I think that it may be possible to anchor the end of the rack to the inside of the driver and passenger doors - doors open of course - with some kind of tension system. It is the back end that presents a problem. Anyone know a way to fit this car - cheaply? As expected, I do not want to scratch up the top too much. Soooo, any help or ideas appreciated. 



To:, "Laser List" <>
Subject: re: Car topping when your c
From: "John Fracisco" <>
Date: 26 Jan 1998 14:52:57 -0700

The Laser Email Archives

Car-Tipping a Laser

by Robert Williams

>Date: Mon, 22 Jul 96 12:28:00 bst 
>From: Gerald Helen <
>To: laser <
>Subject: Car-topping >Message-ID: <
>What's the approved method of securing all this, and is there an easy way of 
>loading it up with minimal damage risk to both boat and car? 

I devised a method that uses the mast sections as carriers for the boat. They are secured lengthwise near the outer ends of your car rack. The boat lies upside down on them. The spars should be separated by the width of the space between the traveler eyes. That is, the traveler eyes should be just outside the spars when the boat is positioned on the rack. You will find if you sight straight forward from this point the boat is flat, so the spars and the boat are evenly loaded from one end to the other. I haven't noticed any ill effect on either the mast or the hull from carrying it this way. Been doing it for several years. 

Oh. Here is an article I wrote about it last year. 

I have been 'car' tipping my Laser for a couple of years now. 'Tipping' in the title is not a typo. Read on... 

First, I have a small pickup truck with a canopy that is the same height as the roof of the cab. The canopy is a light weight aluminum affair with frame members only at the front and back. So in order to carry anything on top, it has to be supported only at those points (plus I suppose the cab). But this should work as well with a car roof rack. 

I made some holders for the mast sections and tip the boat upside down onto the mast sections. The boat rests nicely on the mast sections supported along the gunwales. The top of the boat is straight at this point, so it doesn't rock or need any padding or other support. 

The primary advantage is there is a solid point to tip the boat from. I never actually lift the entire boat; only 1 end. Also since the boat is supported along the gunwales, it's not bad for the boat. Here's how: I made some little half round mast holders out of scrap 2x4 that screwed right down to the canopy frame at each corner, so the 2 mast sections lay lengthwise right at the outside edges of the top of the canopy. The distance between them is just less than the distance between the traveler grommets. The mast sections fit between them. This helps locate the boat laterally at the stern. For a car the half round mast holders would be mounted on a roof rack. 

OK. An attempt at ascii art. This is the shape of the mast holders from the front or back:

	       _____			     _____
	      /     |			    |	  \
	     /      |  Mast goes here	    |	   \
	    /       |			    |	    \
	   /        |			    |	     \
	  / 	    \			    /	      \
	 /	     \			   /	       \
	/	      \	Actually round 	  /		\
	|		-----------------		|
	|		 to fit mast.			|
	|						|
	|						|
	|						|

Now park the truck next to a grassy area, drag the boat over so it's stern is about a foot from the side of the truck, and the boat is 90 degrees to it, right side up. Probably best to have it near the front mast support, but not in front of it. Less stress on the mast that way. Pick up the bow and just keep going up until it lays over onto the truck. It will rest against the mast section that is in place on the roof. I arrange it so the lower section is on the loading side. Hopefully your vehicle is short enough that the mainsheet cleats are above the mast at this point. Take a deep breath, grasp the bottom of the boat in the _middle_ of the stern and on the near gunwale. Lift up and out so the boat pivots on the mast section. If you let it slide back/down it may damage the cleats. If you let it slide sideways... bad things can happen. Once it's upside down, across the the masts, I pick up one end, then the other and pivot in the appropriate direction, Take care not to drag cleats or other fixtures across the masts or the top of the truck. 

I made a couple of 'hooks' out of more scrap 2x4 (hardwood this time) that grab the upside down gunwales with some line to tie the boat down. Also tie the front end thoroughly so it doesn't lift or swing. Use the mainsheet looped over the aft end of the hiking strap and tied to the back bumper or other sturdy appendage to keep the boat from sliding forward. 

It's not perfect. I dinged up the side of the canopy a little learning where to stand the boat before tipping it up. I broke a cleat once dragging it across a mast section. (But then I got to replace it with much nicer Harken gear. :-) 

The hardware required for my installation was pretty minimal, and I can do it single handed, provided there is a grassy spot near the lake I can park next to. I haven't seen any permanent bending of the mast although it does flex some as I'm tipping it up. 

Oh, I use a stern mounted dolly to wheel the boat down the ramp, which is paved. It's construction could be the subject of another posting. 

For a small car I'd guess you'd need a set of roof racks spaced as far apart as possible (mine are 6 feet) with half rounds to hold the mast sections at the ends of the roof rack. My guess is it would be easier to tip the boat up since the pivot point would be lower. You may have to be careful that it doesn't tip prematurely (Crash!). However being narrower than my pickup, you are unlikely to ding the roof. 

Alternative to a grassy spot would be a piece of carpet located where you're going to tip the boat onto it's stern. 



Subject: car tipping a Laser
From: "Robert B. Williams" <>
Date: Mon, 5 Aug 96 15:00:29 -0700

The Laser Email Archives

Single Handed Loading

by Malcolm Osborne

>>> Dr. Jan Bergmann <> Sunday, 8 September 1996 23:40 
> "I have just bought a used laser with a number 22268 made by Performance Sailcraft Europe U.K.. Is it possible to concluded its age from this number? Apart from that, is there an easy way to get the 59 kg hull on the cartop by just one person (special cartops, special techniques....?). " 

I purchased my first Laser in 1978 with a 55 thousand number, thus I reckon 22 000 must be early 70's or late 60's. 

I've got my Laser onto car roofracks by sliding it up from the rear, upside down. First position it so that you can lift the bow onto the rear rack, then pick up the Laser stern and push. One has just to work the cleats over the racks. 

Malcolm Osborne (133710, 160100) 
Pretoria South Africa


Subject: age of laser, cartop -Reply
From: Malcolm Osborne <>
Date: Mon, 09 Sep 1996 14:34:03 +0200

The Laser Email Archives

Single Handed Cartopping

by Brian Bauman

I've attached an article on another single-handed cartopping method which I developed about 3 years ago. If your mail handler has trouble with attachments, let me know... 

Long-time readers of this discussion group might remember an article I wrote on a single-handed cartopping method about 3 years ago. It was also published shortly thereafter in Laser Sailor. After dredging about my files a bit, I found my original article. The technique is a bit different than the one mentioned a couple weeks ago and has the advantage of requiring only one lift of the bow instead of lifting the bow and stern once each. In this approach, you bring the boat to the rear of your auto/truck, stern towards the auto, then tumble the boat over its stern -- but I'm getting ahead of myself... 

Basically, the technique goes like this: roll your boat (I'm assuming that you have a dolly. If you don't, then you probably oughta have one anyway!) so that the stern of the boat is near the aft end of your car. After attaching lines/wood blocks (used to support the weight of the boat; described later) to the transom lip of the hull, tilt the boat up vertically (the same way that is frequently done at yacht club storage), pivoting the boat about its transom. Lean the boat up against the "third rack" located at the aft end of the car (also described later). Reach down, grab the transom, and start pivoting the boat about the third rack. Since the weight of the boat is being held by the lines/wood blocks (again, to be described later), it only takes about 10 lbs of force to start pivoting the boat. When the boat makes contact with the regular roof racks, slide it forward into place. 

The crux of the system is creating a third "rack" near the aft end of the car. I used my trunk lid (in full-open position)! (By the way, I have a '78 Olds Cutlass. You will probably have to futz around a bit to find the right combination for your car. I suspect that hatchbacks, vans and camper-shelled-trucks will be very amenable to this technique, as the "third rack" is built in). The open trunk lid supports the weight of the boat with the help of two 1x2"'s (or other similar lumber) standing upright, placed between the bottom of the trunk lid and the floor of the trunk. Tie the lid down to the latch to keep the arrangement in place when there is no load. 

The lines/wood blocks mentioned earlier are as follows. Buy a couple feet of moulding (I found 11/16"x1 1/2 or 1 3/4 works well). Cut in half (two one-foot sections). Sand down the moulding that it fits snuggly in the lip of the transom (I'm referring to the hull "rollover" joint). Attach an eyestrap to each moulding strip. It should face aft and be as close as possible to the rollover lip. Now position the assembled woodblocks in the lip of the transom (one on either side of the gudgeons) and tie a line between each eyestrap and the aft car rack on the appropriate side.. You will have to futz a bit to find the right length that puts the center of gravity in the right spot (and also keeps the boat high enough so that you don't set the boat on the gudgeons). The line should drape over the trunk lid. It may be possible to use the traveller fairleads as the attachment points, but I think that the boat is much stronger on the rollover joint. 

The trick is to get the line length so that the center of gravity of the boat is, on average, over the trunk lid; it took me about half an hour to get the length right. My trunk lid has a bit of a "roll" on it and I think that I use that to my advantage, but I'm sure that it can be done on other cars also. 

If you have questions on this, let me know. You will want to have someone around when you try this out. It is a touch scary the first time because you do tilt the boat slightly beyond vertical before the boat it stabilizes.


Subject: Single-handed cartopping
From: "Brian J. Bauman" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 00:49:21 -0800

The Laser Email Archives

Two Person Job?

On Tue, 6 Jun 1995 wrote: 
> I can tell you from experience that it is a two person job. 
> ... 
> I swear, the boat weighs 130lbs. only when at rest; when you want to 
> move the boat around, it magically gains another 50 or so pounds. 

Especially AFTER the day's racing. Once saw a rather muscley individual carry a laser down the ramp all by himself. Grabbed the hiking strap right at the main block, heaved it up on his shoulder. One handed. Do not piss this guy off... 



Subject: Re: cartopping a laser
From: Gordo <gharris@sol.UVic.CA>
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 1995 19:58:59 -0700 (PDT)

The Laser Email Archives

Padding and Other Ideas

by Tom McGrath


I would contact rei.. ( who carries THULE racks online. next, it isn't a good idea to use the "racks" that are already on your car because i've found them quite un-sturdy and won't make it with a 180 pound boat on them.. most people that car top their boats flip them upside down, put them on the racks and have some sort of padding (foam) to protect their boat from getting scratched. i am not sure which carrier you should use.. preferably one that is long enough to accommodate your spars and your boat. i hope this helps.. 

happy car topping, 

tom./ wrote: 
> I have a laser boat here in Korea, but I don't have a trailer. I have rent 
> a truck instead to have it transported so far, but now that I have a '97 
> Grand Cherokee Jeep, I am thinking that my laser boat may fit on the roof 
> rack with a proper carrier to hold the boat tight. I know Thule makes 
> carriers for kayak and canoe but not for the laser boat. 
> Do you think it is safe to have a laser boat on the top of the roof? If it 
> is, should I get a kayak carrier or canoe carrier? The kayak carrier holds 
> the boat deck up and has a cushion to protect the bottom of the boat, while 
> canoe carrier holds the boat upside down and I don't think it has any 
> cushion. Or should I not even consider to buy neither kayak nor canoe 
> carrier as they may not fit the laser boat? What is your opinion? 

> I appreciate your help. 

> Thanks. 

> Regards, 
> Sid Shim


To:, Laser <>
Subject: Re: laser boat carrier
From: Tom McGrath <>
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 13:50:04 -0600

The Laser Email Archives

Cartopping with a Dolly

by Malcolm Osborne

The normal car-topping method is to put the boat upside down on the racks. Then turn the dolly upside down and lash the spars to it, then put this assembly on top of the boat on the car. Alternatively lash the spars to the roof racks on the side of the car. 

A Laser will rest on the cockpit corners on straight racks. Tieing the boat down may damage the deck (this is how I got delamination on my older Laser). I put stiff foam blocks under the gunnels to carry the weight of the boat. I have an Opel Astra with internal roof gutters - I don't know if your Vauxall is similar. The standard racks were too short so I had to extend them by fixing wooden planks over the metal racks. 

Malcolm Osborne 
Pretoria South Africa


Subject: Car-topping -Reply
From: Malcolm Osborne <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 1996 18:28:56 +0200

The Laser Email Archives

Better Gas Mileage

by Derek Meyer

take the wheels of the dolly, it'll save you 3mi to the gallon.

your friend, 
Derek J. Meyer


Subject: RE:boat on car
From: Derek Meyer <>
Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 19:43:56 -0700 (PDT)

The Laser Email Archives

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