Travelling is inherent to Laser sailing and regattas or training camps might take you anywhere from the club down the road to an event on the other side of the world. If you’re heading far away, here’s three ways to fly with your tiller and extension.
When planning for your travels, remember that most extensions are between 48-54 inches long, so check your extension before buying some travel cases.
#1) The Soft Golf Case
This is our most recommended trick for a few reasons. First, you’ll be able to pack your tiller, your sailing gear, and likely your clothing all in one bag. Not only will this mean less luggage to carry around, but it will also save you extra checked luggage fees as you’ll only have one piece of luggage. And, best of all, most airlines have no fees for golf bags, but can charge upwards of $200 for other sporting goods, especially water sports.
Just remember when you’re checking in that you’re off on a golf trip!
Some examples are this bag or this one.
#2) The PVC tube
An easy to make solution
This homemade case is extremely sturdy and should protect your tiller & extension against even the most disgruntled luggage loader and most severe turbulence out there. Go to your local hardware store and pick up a 3 inch PVC tube that’s as long as your extension. Get end caps that match the size (extra points for screw caps), and voila! Bonus tips: Drill two holes and add a piece of rope for a handle. Also pack a piece of cut up yoga mat that wraps around the PVC, and you’ve now got yourself a foam roller!
The downside of this method is that checking your tiller will result in an extra bag, which could make the trip a bit more expensive depending on your airline.
Bonus points for a screw cap!
You could also do this with sturdy cardboard or a fishing rod holder, however this method will give you the exact length you need and last a very long time.
#3) The Carry On
From chatting with sailors who fly down to ISA, this one seems to work about 50% of the time. We’re just mentioning it here because it’s a fairly popular option but we wouldn’t recommend it. To get it on, you want to tape both pieces together and pass it through security as a cane or photography equipment If you are able to carry it on, great, if not you’ll have to check it as is, without protection. This almost guarantees your tiller will show up in multiple pieces.
A note on making collapsible tillers..
We’ve seen some sailors cut up their carbon tillers and insert a sleeve and some screws so that it can be taken apart and packed in a smaller bag. While the seems like a good idea, we’ve also broken tillers while doing starting drills. A lot of proper Laser techniques, like sculling, put a lot of hard stress on the tiller. Until we see a properly made one that keeps its full strength even though it can be collapsible or broken up, we don’t recommend this as it will affect your sailing.
ISA offers full tiller and extension rentals if you don’t want to bring yours!
How do you fly with your tiller? Let us know in the comments…