For all of the latest news & information on Laser’s in Western Australia please see the WA Laser Association Website.
You can choose one of three different sized rigs: Laser Standard, Laser Radial, Laser 4.7
What is a Laser?
The International Laser Class sailboat, also called Laser Standard and the Laser One is a popular one-design class of small sailing dinghy. According the Laser Class Rules the boat may be sailed by either one or two people, though it is rarely sailed by two. The design, by Bruce Kirby, emphasizes simplicity and performance.
The dinghy is now manufactured by several boat manufacturers worldwide (see External Links). The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed dinghies in the world. By 2007, the number of boats produced exceeded 190,000.
A commonly cited reason for its popularity is that it is robust and simple to rig and sail. “Laser” is mainly used to refer to the Laser Standard (the second largest of the sail plan rigs available for the Laser hull), but this can be very confusing as there are a series of other “Laser”-branded boats using different hulls. Examples include the Laser II and Laser Pico, but these may be called Laser 2, and a Pico. (Wikipedia)
The Laser Concept
A high performance low cost singlehanded dinghy.
Since its inception more than 21 years ago the Laser has come a long way while really changing hardly at all. On a cold and blustery day outside Montreal in late November of 1970, when after a month of tuning and tweaking, the final choice of mast sections and the cut and structure of the sail were established, the basic parameters of the boat were fixed and have not been changed.
The hull shape and the shape and position of the daggerboard and rudder were never altered from the original plans. The sail area also remained as drawn, but on the second prototype the centre of effort was moved forward in small increments to fine-tune the helm or ‘feel’ of the boat, and to make it right for as broad a range of crew weights as possible in a small single-hander.
That was also the day when the name Laser emerged as by far the best of the many that had been suggested, and it was the day we realised that if the class were to reach the prominence which seemed to be indicated by the unusual excitement it had already created, we would have to guard most diligently its one-design nature.
Sailing technology was asked to wait in the wings, while tactical ability, combined with agility and the desire to win, were given front stage, centre. In its 21 years, the class has allowed only four additions to the basic boat: a compass, a ratchet block on the sheet, more parts in the outhaul and more parts in the vang. That’s all folks!
Although there was resistance to even these minor adaptations, they have worked out well, because all but the compass (which should be allowed on any boat for safety and tactical reasons) have served to increase the effective crew weight range. Being able to flatten and unflatten the sail easily with the new vangs and outhauls has made it possible for lighter people to compete against their heavier rivals in strong winds.
Putting smaller rigs on the Laser hull has further broadened the boat’s realm, and the Laser Radial Rig in particular has virtually created a new class for sailors in 60 to 70 kg range, which includes an impressive percentage of the world’s population.
Simplicity and performance were prime objectives, and these features went hand in hand with low cost and light weight; but the idea that the boat would be tossed on top of a car or onto a trailer, and launched and retrieved from a beach, meant that it would also have to be durable. In its turn the tough hull structure has resulted in a boat that needs little maintenance and enjoys minimal depreciation.
By sticking strictly to the one-design concept, which has included only one set of master moulds, from which all other tooling is manufactured, there is no hull measuring required at regattas, and it is generally agreed that there has never been a class which comes close to the Laser in uniformity of shape, rig and structure. Whatever skill was expended on the project fell neatly into line with fortuitous timing and a generous dollop of blind luck. The result has been a most satisfactory experience, which is reinforced yearly by the knowledge that so many of the world’s leading sailors are graduates of the Laser school of sailboat racing. It is even more satisfying to see how the class is constantly reclaiming its own in the form of Laser Masters – those who thought they had escaped the addiction but keep coming back for more and finding that the thrill lives on.
The Laser was created as a strict one-design dinghy where the true test, when raced, is between sailors and not boats and equipment.
The fundamental principle of the Laser rules is that you cannot change anything unless specifically permitted by the rules to do so. Such permissions are restricted and generally only allow a limited choice to accommodate different physical attributes of sailors.
The class has actively rejected any suggestions to change or “improve” equipment so that the absolute similarity of all boats is maintained and costs of competing are kept low.
The strength and absence of any flexibility in The Fundamental Rule of the Laser Class has enabled the class to grow at a rate unsurpassed by any other dinghy.
The Class Association has absolute control over all aspects of the class rules. Further protection is achieved by the requirement that ISAF has to approve any changes. By exercising control worldwide, the Laser has been maintained as one of the most pure one designs in the sailing world.
As well as being popular in well established yachting countries, the absolute one-design rules have made the Laser uniquely popular as the racing dinghy in many smaller countries who have little or no experience, knowledge or opportunity to participate in “high tech” classes.
One of the greatest success stories of Laser Racing. Masters sailing consists of three age groups:
The fleet includes Olympians and past Champions who bring to the class a wealth of talent and experience. For many the Laser rekindles the spirit of competition, for others it is an enjoyable way of keeping fit.
Although best known as a senior class the Laser has proved itself to be very suitable as a youth class, being used by many National Authorities as their preferred youth boat. The addition of the Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 rigs further extend the versatility of the boat for young sailors.
In the last 17 lYRU World Youth Championships the Laser has been chosen as the singlehanded class 13 times. Following the introduction of a female singlehanded event in the lSAF World Youth Championships the Laser Radial has been chosen for the female event.
Since the Laser Class adopted the Laser Radial for major women’s events it has enjoyed excellent support. Women compete equally with men in the Radial Fleet.
A place in a Laser World Championship is not a gift, it has to be earned. Those who have succeeded and have experience of other classes comment that ‘a Laser World Championship is one of the hardest regattas to win’. This high standard of competition is reflected throughout the various levels of Laser racing in what is arguably the most active and competitive racing class in the world.