Laser sailing dinghy
A Laser is a one design sailing dinghy which was originally called the weekender, with TGIF on its sail. Designed by Canadian Bruce Kirby, it became known as the Laser and appeared at the New York Boat Show in 1971.
The first world championships, for this single-handed sailing dinghy was in 1974 around Bermuda. 24 different countries produced entrants. Although that first championship was won by an American, the greatest Laser dinghy champion is Robert Scheidt from Brazil, winning both world and olympic medals. The Laser became an olympic class boat in 1996.
All Lasers are built to the same specifications. The hull is 4.23 metres (13 ft 10.5 in) long, with a waterline length of 3.81 m (12.5 ft). The hull weight is 56.7 kg (130 lb), which makes the boat light enough to lift onto a car-top rack.
Three simple, interchangeable rigs take the growing sailor from the Optimist to an introduction to youth dinghy sailing with the 4.7 rig and then to full youth sailing in the Radial (5.7m2) with the final step to the full rig (7.06m2). A unique step- by- step progression in the same equipment in the same Class with the only difference being the sail and lower mast.
Over 175,000 Lasers have been built. Due to its relatively low cost, responsive handling and single-design restrictions, it is the most widely-owned small sailing dinghy in the world, and the most popular racing class.
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The various sizes of Laser are all cat-rigged; they have only a main sail. The Laser Standard sail has sail area of 7.06 m² (76 ft²) and, especially in higher winds, is most competitive when sailed by a muscular person weighing morethan 80 kg (175 lb).
A Laser’s date and place of manufacture can be determined by looking at the serial number stamped into the transom or under the fairlead on the bow on older hulls. This serial number is unique to the boat and is also the same number that must be displayed on the sail if used for racing. The Laser is unusual in this aspect, since almost every other sailing craft has the numbers assigned by the national organization. This means that the same Laser can be moved between countries without having to change sail numbers.
The first commercially sold Laser sailboat had sail number 100: earlier boats were considered “prototypes”. In Europe the smaller Laser Radial has surpassed the original Laser Standard in popularity. The radial uses the same hull and fittings as the Laser Standard, but has a smaller sail, shorter lower mast section and has a different cut of sail to that of the standard or 4.7. Optimal weight for this rig is 121 to 159 lbs (55 to 72 kg).
A smaller sail plan for the Laser was developed about a decade later, for the Laser 4.7. The sail area was reduced by 35% from the Standard with a shorter pre-bent bottom mast section, allowing even lighter sailors to sail. The same formula as the Radial is kept. The hull is the same as the Standard and Radial. Optimal weight for this rig is 110-120 lbs (50-55 kg), thus becoming an ideal boat for young sailors moving from the Optimist.
Another version by a company called Rooster Sailing, designed and created a larger rig called the Rooster 8.1 which is specifically made for heavier sailors. There are two variants -one with a 3.6m lower mast and one with an extender for a standard laser lower mast – made of fiber-glass.
Yet another and lesser-known variant is the Laser M Rig. This sail was the first attempt at making a smaller rig for smaller sailors. It has the same lower mast section, but a shorter top section. This variant was not as good when compared to the other rigs. This is primarily because the shorter top section didn’t allow enough bend to be induced in the mast, this made the boat difficult to sail, especially in heavier winds.
Recently, the basic sail controls have been upgraded by means of the XD performance kit, with parts made by HOLT. Fitting this kit allows the outhaul and cunningham to be adjusted more easily when under sail via cleats fitted to the deck so that the lines are always available to the sailor. As well as this, a second rigging kit has been released, utilizing HARKEN products. This gives an extra purchase on the outhaul system, but the kicker is basically the same.
A double-handed version of the popular Laser one-design class of small sailing dinghy is called the Laser 2. It is a quick, planing dinghy that differs from the laser in that it has a jib, symmetric spinnaker and a trapeze for the crew. It was designed by Australian Frank Bethwaite and was first launched as a product in Australia then North America in 1979 and in Europe in 1980. The rig is a Bermudian rig sloop with spinnaker. It is designed to be a mid to high performance race.
A version known as the Laser Fun was available, the same hull but featuring a reefable mainsail and a roller furling jib, and with the option of an asymmetric spinnaker (Laser Fun New Wave).
The Laser 2 is a one design sailing boat and is not available for amateur construction. the boat has also been discontinued as a result of the 2007 merger of its manufacturers Laser UK and Vanguard Sailboats into Laser Performance Sailing. The Laser Vago which features a gennaker and has been designed to be sailed single-handed as well as double-handed, is considered by some as a replacement. Frank Bethwaite’s hull design for the Laser 2 together with a new deck and rig, is known as the Laser 3000 class of sailing dinghy.
The Laser Pico dinghy is a small sailboat, 11’6″ (3.50 m) long, designed by Jo Richards in 1994 and used mainly for training and day sailing. It can be crewed by one or two children or an adult. The Pico comes equipped with both amainsail and a jib.
The hull is of thermoplastic sandwich construction with built-in buoyancy. She is self-draining. The boat comes with an aluminum two-piece mast, an aluminum boom, a daggerboard, and a lifting rudder.
For racing, the Laser Pico has a battened race sail attached instead of the cruising main. This sail is made of mylar and is much tougher and more powerful than its cruising counterpart.
Laser sailing dinghies are offered for sale through this site and can be viewed here.