Upwind there is hardly any pressure on the tiller. Holding the tiller on a Laser upwind in a breeze puts real tension in the steering arm, there is significant weather helm, a big contributor to fore arm muscle strain.
Both boats need a lot of sheeting and this is hard on the sheeting arm. The Aero having a light helm gives one arm a break on each tack.
The Aero foils certainly look more efficient, the modern materials help and it is interesting to compare them.
The Laser rudder has a defined rake which is the cause the strong weather helm feel upwind. The Aero rudder is almost vertical.
Both rudders probably have the same braking effect. When the two rudders are placed over each other they appear to have a similar surface area. The Aero rudder is longer and deeper in the water and has minimal rake which accounts for light weather helm feel.
The Aero rudder is very effective at steering while the Laser rudder lacks bite off the wind and down wind.
Downwind the Aero rudder actually works and the boat can be steered under rig adding to stability in 20+ knot runs. The Aeros flat wide hull at the back also adds considerable stability.
On the water the Aero centre board is significantly better. There no vibration or humming when on plane, the board is properly fitted in its slot and does not ride up like the Laser board.
|Aero rudder over Laser rudder|
Greater care has to be taken when using the rudder on the Aero, it works so well to turn the boat it is tempting to over use it. It is worth remembering Steve Cockerill's advice about using weight and sheeting to help steer.
Upwind on the in light/moderate breeze I hold the tiller extension as lightly as possible. This gives feedback to keep the boat flat just near the point where it is past flat and the balance changes to a lee helm.
The light hull weight means you have to scoot in and out a lot in puffy conditions. Fortunately the shape of the deck facilitates this, but more on this feature in future posts.