How to Change Gudgeons on a Laser (keeping an old boat competitive)
The laser rudder angle is the one area that appears to be contentious. Yes the angle is too far back, but without an angled rudder you might loose some of the paddle effect at low speeds. However, it is widely known that we should minimise the rudder angle to ensure tennis elbow free sailing in stronger winds! Note: Australian boats always used to have a larger release angle on their transom - we had to make our Rooster Carbon Tillers with a different angle to cope with their transom - so I have often wondered why ILCA measure the rudder in the stock rather than the rudder blade to the boat?
Once your gudgeons are worn, the tiller drops and the rudder angle only gets worse. It's then time to do some minor boat work and replace the old ones.
If you are on a tight budget you can turn them upside down. You will get more contact area between the pin of the rudder head and the gudgeon to gain some extra life and a less sloppy fit.
Armed with some silicone, an abrasive scourer and in my case a counter sink bit (this one is called a snail) to de-burr the holes. Also, of course, some official gudgeons. Obviously there are other cheaper gudgeon replacements available, but for now let's focus on race legal changes.
The design of gudgeons has changed many times, even in the lifetime of my wife's dawn grey beach boat which I am sailing this week, so I expected the holes to not light up exactly.
First, take off the old gudgeons then clean the silicone from the boat.
You might notice that the original manufacturer had not de-burred the holes, taking a little gelcoat from the hole to prevent it cracking. I also noticed that the skin of the hull was not flat, but raised where these burrs are. This will prevent the new gudgeon from fixing neatly against the hull so I took my counter sink bit and took off the burrs. BE GENTLE.
Now smooth, I placed the screws into the gudgeon and then coated each screw with silicone, by pushing the screw into the nose of the silicone tube, before offering the whole unit up to the boat and then tightening each screw in turn until the whole unit was tight. I always fit my gudgeons upside down to give the lease sloppy fit as you have more contact area with pin and gudgeon.