Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Regular readers of this blog (all three of you) will know that I have something of a feud going with Joe Rouse at The Horse's Mouth about the relative merits of the Force 5 and the Laser. It's all very pointless really because it's common knowledge that the Force 5 is a better boat than a Laser. Here are seven reasons why...
1. The Force 5 is more comfortable than a Laser. Nobody claims that a Laser is comfortable. Indeed I've even written a post or two about how Laser sailing is all about ability to bear pain. Why would anyone but a masochist sail a boat that hurts so much?
2. You can take a friend with you on a Force 5. In theory you can have more than one person on a Laser. When I was a sailing instructor, on afternoons with no wind we would occasionally see how many kids we could load on to one Laser. I think our record was thirteen. But the Laser isn't really designed for more than one person. On the other hand, the way the Force 5 cockpit extends to the side of the daggerboard makes more room for a crew to join you in comfort. (There we go with the C-word again.)
3. The control lines are easier to reach on a Force 5. The Force 5 was designed after the Laser was launched and so the designer had the benefit of seeing how difficult it was to adjust the sail controls on the original Mark 1 1971 vintage Laser. As a result, the Force 5 has double-ended control lines that lead to both side decks. A few years back the highly conservative Laser class eventually allowed a so-called "new" control line set-up but it is still far inferior to the Force 5 arrangement.
That's why all Laser sailors have such long arms. Thanks to the power of natural selection, in another three generations all Laser sailors will look like this...
4. The Force 5 is more forward-looking. The builder of the Force 5, Brian Weeks, has been updating the boat with all sorts of techno-wizardry such as a winged hull and a fully-battened composite sail. How cool is this?
You're never going to see anything like this in the Laser class. Even if the manufacturer and the leaders of the class association wanted to do it, it would never get through the byzantine bureaucratic rule change process that the Laser class has invented to keep pure the true spirit of board-boat sailing 1970's style. It takes about eight years and at least seven voting steps (not to mention approval by those fun-loving wild-thing super-delegates at ISAF) to change the Laser rules to allow something like a left-handed square knot instead of a right-handed reef knot to tie your toestrap shockcord. Fuggedaboutit.
5. The Force 5 sail insignia. The symbol for the Force 5 looks masculine and vaguely pornographic at the same time. Haven't you always wanted to wear a T-shirt like this?
6. Force 5 sailors are more friendly. I will get into trouble with my Laser friends for saying this but there is an obvious reason why it is so...
If you join your local Laser fleet you will probably be the 217th sailor to sign up for the season and one of about 50 racing today. The reaction from your new "friends" is likely to be something along the lines of, "Oh hi. Welcome. You can probably find somewhere to keep your boat over there on the other side of the club behind the dumpster. Now can you move your boat so I can get to the ramp. Good luck."
Whereas if you turn up with a Force 5 at your local sailing club the only three other Force 5 sailors there will be so pleased, not to say astonished, to see you that the reaction will be more like, "Wow! Another Force 5! Amazing dude! Let me buy you a beer. Do you need any spare parts? You can borrow my trailer. Please use my new sail. Do you have anywhere to stay in Key West for the Midwinters? You can stay with my sister. Hey, you can sleep with my sister." That's what I call real friendship.
7. The Zippered Halyard Mainsail. This is the clincher for me. A sail with a zipper! Man, how can the Laser complete with that?
When I first read about this on the Force 5 website I was mystified. Zippers on boots, yes. Zippers on PFDs, yes. Zippers on drysuits and wetsuits, absolutely, especially that all-important special zipper so essential to male comfort during a long day on the water. But a zipper on a mainsail? Why?
Well, Mr. Weeks' website has full instructions for the simple 18-step process on how to use the zipper and the reason for having one: "no more Iwo Jima mast raising".
Brilliant! I have to have one.
Posted by Tillerman at 6:00 AM