Why do people hate Laser sailors?
No, I'm not getting paranoid. That was a question that OG from LiveSailDie asked me in a Skype Chat we had yesterday. To be fair to OG her question was a little more mild, "Why do non Laser Sailors dislike Laser sailors so much?"
And she went on to explain, "RQYS is a massive Laser club. We have world champions, national champions, state champions. But there are some who think they are lonely boring people with no life, just cause they are a single handed class."
I must admit her question floored me. In 25 years of Laser sailing I've not come across much antipathy from other sailors. So I can only speculate on why some folk may have a thing against Laser sailors...
1. Laser sailors are cheats. I have heard some people express the opinion that Laser sailors use too much kinetics and that they just rock and roll their boats around the course. One reason that I was invited to give the Rule 42 seminar at my club this winter was, I suspect, that the powers-that-be thought that as the most experienced Laserite in the club I would have had more exposure to illegal propulsion examples. It is true that the Laser responds well to all the banned go-fast techniques - pumping, rocking, repeated roll tacks and gybes etc. And you do occasionally see it. But my experience is that we are pretty good at policing ourselves and at major events we have judges on the water strictly enforcing Rule 42.
2. Laser sailors are a bunch of drunken party animals. Way back in the early days of the Laser when it was predominately sailed by a bunch of aggressive young guys there were some stories of wild behavior at regatta parties that was frowned on by the more staid members of host yacht clubs. But the class has aged. A high percentage of the class membership are now masters (over 35) and our alcohol tolerance is nowhere near good enough to get wasted on Saturday night and then sail a Laser all day on Sunday. Sure, there are always new youth sailors coming into the class but my experience of the young people in the class these days are that they are, for the most part, well-behaved, respectful, and serious about their sport.
I was interested to observe that at this year's Newport Regatta there were no 420's. The reason I discovered was that they had been banned because at the previous year's regatta the 420 class had been so badly behaved. What's the world coming to? Kids in 420's outdrinking Laser sailors!
3. Laser sailors don't spend enough in the yacht club bar. Come on guys. You can't have it both ways. We can't be wild debauching drunks and stingy teetotallers. Actually this one may be nearer the truth. Laser sailors love their racing. Indeed some of them (but not all) are so serious about it that they will be very careful about their alcohol consumption during a regatta. Most of us join a yacht club for the sailing, not for the social scene.
4. The Laser isn't a "real" sailboat. There is some snobbery against Laser sailors. Some people seem to think that a "real" sailing dinghy has to have three sails and preferably a trapeze or two. So what? If you want to sail a 505 or a 49er go for it. Each to their own. Just because you prefer a particular class of boat don't go around saying other boats "suck". Even Optimists have their place. 188,000 Laser owners can't be wrong.
5. If we allow Lasers at our club it will hurt the other classes. Yeah, there may be some truth in this one. The Laser is a popular class. It may steal fleet members from classes that are not so much fun to sail, or that are more expensive, or that are more work to maintain and transport. But inter-class competition is not a zero sum game. Clubs need popular fleets that will grow the sport.
6. The club is getting over-run with Lasers. This is an actual quote from the commodore of the club where I started a Laser fleet last year. All of a sudden one Sunday it seemed like there were Lasers everywhere. They had become the largest fleet at the club almost overnight. So what? Don't you want to attract new members and have active thriving racing fleets?
7. Laser sailors walk around with big smiles on their faces exuding a feeling of smug satisfaction that they sail the best boat in the world. True.
So what have I missed? Why do you hate Laser sailors?