Friday, May 02, 2008

Well Said Sir

I'm a lurker on the Laser Forum but I have to admit that, after a while, a lot of the stuff posted there becomes pretty tedious. Oh no, not another thread whining about how the sails don't last for ever. Oh no, not another newcomer to the class who wants to redesign everything on the boat. These folk just don't get it.

Then occasionally someone posts something that captures with total clarity what Laser sailing is really about. Such was the case today in a post by Debos, which I have reproduced in full below.

The laser is not the fastest boat in the world, it is not the slowest, it is not the prettiest(particularly with its sail up), it is not the best downwind, or upwind, it goes pretty well on a reach, if you can keep it upright. It isn't the cheapest boat out there, and it clearly isn't the most expensive. It is nearly useless for camping, and it has no loo. The unstayed rig trims counter-intuitively to stayed rigs. It is not built to last forever, but is reasonably durable.

It is arguably the most popular race boat in the world, I think for 2 simple reasons:
  • it was introduced at a time that it had no real competition and a huge demand for the concept, giving it a huge marketing head start, and

  • the class has made a serious, long term commitment to keeping the boat as one-design as possible.
These factors combine to produce the 6 figure sail numbers stretching across the sails of new boats.

It would be nice if the manufacturers were able to provide us with prettier sails, that lasted a bit longer, for a more reasonable price, but they have figured out what we are willing to put up with and have set the bar there. The sails we have produce fairly even racing, and unless you are in superb physical shape, and compete at the very top level, the difference between a one race sail and a 30 or 40 race sail can be blown by a few minutes of lazy hiking, or inattention at the helm.

If you want to race the fastest boat in the world, you need to find a different class.

If you want the opportunity to redesign deck layouts, design new sails, alter foil shapes, add hiking systems, etc, you need to find a new class.

If you want the best, purest one-design singlehanded racing possible, available in practically every body of water that humans sail on, choose the Laser.
Well said, sir.

4 comments:

Tim said...

Well I have to say that on surveying the club dinghy park and seeing how few my choosen class has become and looking at what other classes are sailed and recognising that it ain't easy to find a scratch crew when your regualr crew is at uni, the Laser begins to look like a possibility.

JSW225 said...

Sunfish class is still bigger. Nanner nanner!

Tillerman said...

Actually, the membership of the International Laser Class Association is much larger than the membership of the International Sunfish Class Association. Mainly because the Laser is a true worldwide class whereas the Sunfish is only really strong in the USA with less than 40 members in any other single country.

If you just want to count North America (USA and Canada) then (according to meeting minutes you can find on the class websites) the Laser Class has 1564 members and the Sunfish Class has 1450 members.

So nah nah nah nah to you too jsw225.

But much of what Debos says in his post is also true of the Sunfish. Don't forget I wrote a post a while ago on 10 reasons why the Sunfish is better than the Laser. So I'm not into knocking the Sunfish. But don't get me started on the Force 5!

yochris77 said...

RIght on Debos!

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