Our next boat class featured is one of the most popular dinghy classes in the world: the Laser. Like the Albacore, this little boat also punches well above its weight class. Originally conceived in 1969-70 by Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce as a boat intended to be small enough to put on the roof of a car to take camping. From those humble beginnings, the Laser has grown to being the standard single-handed dinghy in the Olympics since 1996.
This class has become so popular because the class is extremely restrictive with respect to design and equipment specifications. The hull also suits a wide variety of sailors and has accommodated differences in weight by reducing the sail plan. The standard Laser works best for sailors up to 84kg (185lbs). However, the Laser radial has 18% less sail area and can be easily sailed by someone up to 70kg (154lbs). For even smaller sailors, the 4.7 rig has a 35% smaller sail plan than the standard setup and can be capably handled by a sailor up to 55kg (121lbs). While these design parameters have served to keep the focus on skill level of the sailor, it has not been without its drawbacks. The Laser class has been mired in litigation between the original designers and licensed manufacturers. The class remains strong despite the ongoing legal battles.
While back to “normal” for our sport varies significantly, for smaller marinas, yacht clubs, and community clubs the Laser might be the safest, more COVID friendly boat class. Intended to be sailed alone, designed as a performance racer, and with a large worldwide fleet, it’s the ideal class to get back on the water.
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