Sunday, February 22, 2009

12 Reasons To Have A Laser Fleet

There are at least twelve good reasons that every dinghy racing yacht club should have a laser fleet. (Almost all of these apply to Sunfish too, but I’m a laser sailor.)

  1. One man, one boat. It is easier to get more boats on the water and thus establish critical mass in the fleets, if it only requires one sailor per boat. There are no days off because you can’t get a crew.
  2. Lasers are cheaper than sloops. You can buy two or three lasers for the price of one Daysailer or Flying Scot. Parts and sails are cheaper too.
  3. Lasers are easy to manage. It is simple and easy to move your laser around on its dolly and to get it in and out of the water. No cars, trailers, row boats, docks, or launches are required. With one sail and a few lines, rigging is quick and straight forward too.
  4. Lasers are easier to store. Because they are small and easy to handle, they require less storage space than bigger boats. They can even be stacked in various ways to reduce needed storage space even further.
  5. Over 192,000 lasers have been made. Although many people hoard their lasers even when they don’t sail them, with so many boats out there it is easier to acquire one.
  6. Laser is the most popular racing class in the world. The manufacturer, supplier, and class organization support is truly world class.
  7. The Laser and Laser Radial are Olympic class boats. If you are good enough, there is an Olympic gold medal at the end of the rainbow in this class.
  8. A laser is fun. The boat is addictive. It’s fun to race or to just fool around in. It planes easily so many people just plane back and forth having a blast. Kids love them and are drawn to racing because the boat is fun. It’s hard to find sailors more enthusiastic about their boats than laser sailors.
  9. The laser is a great learning boat. More than with other boats, laser sailing demands and teaches everything from basic sailing skill to the subtle nuances used by world class racers. Numerous big name sailors in all types of boats and all types of racing have sailed lasers for part of their career.
  10. The boat adapts to different skill levels and different size sailors. With three different size sails available, the boat is good for everyone from 80 to 220 pounds and for novices to experts.
  11. The boat is safer than many others. By virtue of its size and design, it can be righted from a turtle by one person. We can not find a single fatality world wide associated with laser sailing.
  12. Sailing lasers saves on rescue boats and personnel. Because the sailors right the boats themselves, rescue boats are necessary only for freak occurrences or to keep the insurance company happy. Even if a laser needs to be towed, the operation is faster, easier, and requires less horsepower because the boats are light and can’t be filled with water.


  1. Great list yarg. Agree with the sentiment and, in general, with every point. Just a couple of minor details I'd take issue with...

    11. I agree the Laser is very safe and there are hardly any fatal accidents. I did hear of one though, a sailor who died of a heart attack I believe while racing in a Laser Masters Worlds. But I know of more similar "medical" fatalities in other classes, probably because Lasers keep you pretty fit, but you can sail larger dinghies and keelboats even if you're 100 lbs overweight and can't walk a mile without puffing.

    12. Sailing Lasers without rescue boats is a great discussion topic. I do it all the time. 99 times out of 100 you get way with it. But I did write on my blog about one incident last year where I took a novice out for a Laser sail on a small lake and she turtled and jammed her mast in the mud so bad she couldn't free it without help from a rescue boat.

    If the rescue boat hadn't come to our aid there would have been no danger to life or limb as I could have taken her to shore on my Laser. But we might have had to abandon her boat temporarily.

  2. Tillerman approaches a great potential post topic... matching sailors to boats and racing venues. Just possibly, the Laser might not be the best possible boat for that 100-lb. overweight guy.

    And, there are a few people who, though not overweight, might be just too darn big to do well in the boat, or to fit into some classes' weight limits. And, a big guy who's ideal for a Finn might also miss out on opportunities in typical college sailing programs (and idea I hijacked from a talk by Olympic medalist Zach Railey).

  3. whoops, "an", and I see you had a great start on the topic in a recent post when you said...
    "A boat that is fun to sail for one person may be boring or miserable for another. Un-athletic people won’t like lasers or 49’ers, and unsociable people will not like J24’s...."