This article also appeared in the Fall 2012 Edition of The Laser Sailor and is now featured here as well.  It was written with help from Kyle Martin.

Sport cameras are a relatively new breed of cameras that are compact, waterproof, durable and can be easily mounted on all kinds of surfaces.  This makes them great for boats and sailing and especially the Laser.  The footage from these cameras is great as a training aid, as a keepsake of your sailing and as a way to share sailing with friends and family – just don’t bore them with 20 minutes of you sailing upwind with nothing happening.  Not only do most of these cameras do video, but they can also be used for time lapse photography either to watch the whole series, or just to pick key photos of maneuvers , scenery or technique.

Disclaimer: While great for training and pleasure sailing, cameras are not legal equipment for racing on a Laser.

There are several different brands of cameras on the market each with their own strengths, weaknesses, price points, features etc.  Kyle and I both use the GoPro Hero2 cameras, but any of these cameras could be mounted in the shots below.

Easy to set and forget, sees a great scene into the boat and all of the activity in the cockpit
Con: Often submerged leaving wet spots on lens, risk of snagging others mainsheet
Tip: Use a tripod mount on the bow eye for the most secure attachment.
How-to Video
GoPro Bow Mount GoPro Bow Mount View
Mast Facing Forward
For best results, angle slightly off center to port. This ‘looks’ ahead around a mark or down the line on a start.
Shows boats ahead of you
Boring video if you are in front
Go Pro Mast Mount
GoPro Mast Mount GoPro Mast Mount View
Side Mast Facing Aft
Tip: To mount use a roll-cage mount with extra long screws
Pro: Similar scene as the bow, but from a higher elevation.
Con: Only works upwind
GoPro Side Mast Mount GoPro Side Mast Mount View
Pro: Wide view shows boats around and position in cockpit
Con: Unsteady in waves, weight aloft
GoPro Masthead Mount GoPro Masthead Mount View
Pro: Closer view of cockpit than masthead
Con: Good video one tack, ok video other tack
How-to Video
GoPro Mid-Mast Mount GoPro Mid-Mast Mount View
Side of Boat
Tip: Use a suction mount on the smooth hull surface.
Pro: Interesting angles
Con: more likely to be underwater, greater risk of getting banged against something
GoPro SIde of Boat Mount GoPro Side of Boat Mount View
Pro: Great shots of hand-over-hand activity in the cockpit, putting the viewer in your seat
Con: easy to obstruct the view with hands or bang camera with tiller extension and hiking out shows all sky
GoPro Chest Mount GoPro Chest Mount View
Pro: Nice point-of-view shots
Con: Scene changes fast as the wearer quickly looks around the boat to sail
GoPro Head Mount GoPro Head Mount View
Boom Facing Starboard
Tip: Wrist mount fits boom perfectly
Pro: Unobstructed rear view downwind
Con: Completely obstructed view on port tack by sail
GoPro Boom Facing Starboard Mount GoPro Boom Facing Starboard Mount View
End of Boom Facing Forward
Tip: Use roll cage mount
Pro: Shows sailor in cockpit and what’s ahead when sailing upwind
GoPro End of Boom Facing Forward Mount GoPro End of Boom Facing Forward Mount View
Stern Facing Forward
Pro: Shows sailor plus what’s ahead
Con: Slight risk of snagging your mainsheet
Pro: Shows sailor in cockpit and what’s ahead when sailing upwind
GoPro Stern Facing Forward Mount GoPro Stern Facing Forward Mount View
Side of Dolly
Pro: Can be used right-side up, or down
GoPro Side of Dolly Mount

Jon Deutsch
Races Lasers, PHRF boats and anything else he can find to race and usually has a video camera running. Check out his YouTube channel.

Kyle Martin
Races Lasers and makes a variety of tips and tricks videos on how to make the most of GoPro Cameras. Check out his tips on his YouTube channel.

Other YouTubers posting Laser footage:
laserinternational, ClaySails, DCSSInstructors, Districttwelvelaser, ericjpetersen1, GRSALaser, jondeusch5, kylemartin101, laserd8, LaserPerformance, LaserTrainingCenter, lightningfleet192, nalsalam, paigesailor, prsalaser, robsuhay, rwbeigel, SailProCameras, sdalin27, syelland100, ussailing2, wjsymes, xdlaser, zorgetbetty, 5FishBoy5, raffak1, GreatDaneLaser, pgihockey13, sailingshack, lasertouring, jonemmettsailing, eshedsailing

Sunday afternoon we made a GoPro mount for the back of a J109 that I’ll be racing in next week at the Annapolis NOOD Regatta.

We took a 8′ white wood curtain rod, fit it in the flag pole and added a GoPro to the top of it.  I have yet to add a safety line and bungee tensioner to help keep it from bouncing around.  Look for video from this next week.

Here’s what it looked like:

Rear view

side view

And here’s the view:



This GoPro mast mount should work for all mast sizes from a Laser on up.  It was modeled after a mount seen on Layline’s website.  On a Laser the mount can be used to film what’s ahead, or by putting it to the side and using some extenders can point backwards towards the cockpit.  Obviously the mast rotation will result in some less than ideal shooting angles some of the time.

I used an Easy on/off bracket mast mount, but instead of using a stick-on or tripod mount, I drilled out the bracket part of a helmet mount and used two stainless steel bolts to attach it.  The other solutions are probably sufficient, but I wanted something that would be bullet proof as I see myself mounting this in some places that I couldn’t exactly get to in a pinch if something went wrong.

GoPro Mast Mount on a LaserMounted on a Laser mast pointed forward GoPro Mast Mount Laser forward viewView pointed forward
Parts Needed:

Tools Needed:

  • drill with 1/4 drill bit
  • needle nose pliers or wrench
  • screw driver
  • hack saw

Easy on/off bracket and GoPro Helmet Mount with an extra hole drilled in the v-mount for the mount.

GoPro Mast Mount easy on/off bracket and GoPro helmet mount

GoPro Helmet mount mounted to the easy on/off bracket.

GoPro Helmet mount mounted to the easy on/off bracket

From the back showing the screws cut to the proper length with a hack saw so they didn’t protrude toward the mast any further.

GoPro mast mount from above

*I used two 36″ Velcro straps which might be overkill for a Laser mast, but I actually found it to work quite well and be very secure.

GoPro Mast Mount Velcro

Finished bracket mounted on a Laser mast with Velcro straps which were wrapped around the mast 3-4 times.

GoPro Mast Mount on a Laser

GoPro Panoramic TimerA recent project of mine was to use a simple kitchen timer to build a GoPro Camera panoramic time-lapse mount.  This basically lets the camera spin 360 degrees to evenly film the surrounding area.  Either periodic stills can be taken or video can be recorded that can later be sped up into a time lapse.

I started with a basic kitchen timer.  It’s best to find one that doesn’t have a dial on it.  There are numerous egg-shaped timers that seem to work best for it.  Stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or Walmart should have them.  The first one I found happened to be shaped as a lady bug and cost something like $3.99.  The GoPro tripod mount is $8 so with the nut and washers the total was less than $13 to make.

Parts Needed:

  • Kitchen Timer
  • GoPro Tripod Mount
  • 1/4-20 half inch bolt
  • washer [optional]
  • finishing washer [optional]
Tools Needed:

  • drill with 1/4 drill bit
  • needle nose pliers
  • screw driver required
    to take apart (mine didn’t)

GoPro Timer Parts and Tools

I took the red top off the timer by simple pulling it apart with my hands.

GoPro Timer pulled apart

Next I drilled a hole slightly off-center.

GoPro Timer hole drilled

Followed by threading the bolt with the washer on it up from the inside.

GoPro timer bolt threaded through hole

On the outside I put an upside down finishing washer.  This isn’t a must do, but I think it made a better fit for the tripod mount.

GoPro timer added finishing washer

Finally the tripod mount was added.  The needle-nose pliers were used to turn the bolt from the inside while holding the tripod mount straight by hand.

GoPro timer with tripod mount

Complete assembly from the front and side:

GoPro Panoramic TimerGoPro timer complete from side

Gallery of images:

No ladybugs were harmed in the making of this mount.

Edit: A more comprehensive list of GoPro mounts and mounting locations for a Laser can be found here.

Saturday I got my boat ready for Frostbiting on Sunday and ultimately for Midwinters in a little over a week. I also put together some mounts for the GoPro camera.  I had already mounted the camera to the compass mount that yielded this video from last weekend.

GoPro Compass Mount

Pictured above is the GoPro mounted to the compass bracket just in front of the compass.  This works because most of the time when I’m using the compass I’m hiked out and thus looking at the side markings on the compass.  The few times when I actually want to look at the compass head on are usually when I’m checking the wind when I’m not looking and it’s easy enough to just look over the camera.

GoPro Mast Mount

This picture is of the GoPro mounted to the Laser mast just below the goose neck facing aft on the port side of the boat.  The ‘roll cage’ bracket is the right width, but the screws that come with it aren’t long enough to fit the width of the mast.  A quick trip to the the hardware store for some longer screws and nuts fixed that.

GoPro Bow Mount ShortGoPro Bow Mount Tall

To mount the camera to the bow I drilled a hole in the top of the bow eye and took one of the GoPro tripod mounts and used a bolt from underneath the bow eye to secure it.  Pictured is are both the short and tall versions of the setup.  The taller version gives a better perspective back to the cockpit, but being taller, it might vibrate a little more.  I also plan to wrap both in tape to be sure nothing gets caught on them.

GoPro Masttop MountGoPro Clamp Mount

GoPro Top of Mast View

These photos show the clamp mount I made to fix the camera to the top of the mast. I used another tripod mount and bolted it to a hole I made on the side of the clamp.  This mount could be used at the top of the mast, the aft end of the boom, or even on the rudder head during training.

GoPro Dolly Mount

The final location I mounted the camera to is the dolly.  Normally the dolly rides upside down on top of the boat, so by mounting the camera to the side of it I can video scenes on the way to regattas to help frame the location.  When the boat is on the dolly the mount can also be used to film while moving the boat around.