Friday, October 07, 2016

Should I Sell My Laser?

Should I sell my old Laser?

There it is. Stuck in the corner of the garage with a couple of bikes. Behind the lawnmower. A convenient shelf on which to store my RS Aero foils.

It's now October and I just realized I haven't sailed my Laser since April. All summer, I have been ignoring the Laser and sailing my RS Aero instead.

How did that happen?

It wasn't the original plan.

When I bought my RS Aero I intended to split my time between the RS Aero and the Laser. Actually the plan that my two fellow RS Aero buyers and I had agreed was that we would sail the RS Aeros on Saturdays at the club and the Lasers on Sundays. But that went out the window on the first Sunday after we had taken delivery of our Aeros in May last year, when I showed up at the club with my Laser only to find that my friends had already reneged on our agreement and they were sailing their Aeros. Whatever.  Six of us in Lasers raced the two show-offs in RS Aeros and in the last race I crushed them all.


I actually wrote in the blog post about that day Laser Sailing at the Lake - Crushed! ...

I love lake sailing.
I love Laser sailing.

And so I became a two boat sailor. I would sail the RS Aero at the club and at regattas and then when I went back to sailing my Laser I would strangely find that I enjoyed the Laser even more then I used to, and that my time in the RS Aero had actually improved some aspects of my Laser technique.  A Laser sailing friend from the west coast who had also bought an RS Aero told me that when I went back to the Laser it would feel like a truck...

A truck - not a Laser

But later in the summer of 2015 after I went Back to the Laser for a couple of days, I didn't think it felt at all like a truck and I was writing of the experience...

I love my Laser.
I am a two boat sailor.

I sailed the RS Aero a lot in the summer and fall of 2015, including two regattas at our home club, the RS Aeros North Americans at the Gorge and the Archipelago Rally (which I almost won!)


But then at the start of the frostbiting season in November I was feeling all nostalgic about Laser sailing again so I took my Laser down to Newport and had a terrific time including leading the 44 boat fleet at the windward mark in one race.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I sailed a few more days with the Newport Laser frostbite fleet over the winter and did a bit of solo practice in March and April, but then I put the Laser away in the garage - and it hasn't moved from there for six months.

This summer I have sailed my RS Aero in club races and also with the Bristol Laser fleet on a couple of Tuesday evenings. I have done several RS Aero regattas including three in New England, the US Nationals at the Gorge, and the RS Aerocup on Lake Garda.

Fuzzy screen capture from a video of me sailing at Lake Garda

I have met RS Aero sailors from all over the world who share my passion for the RS Aero. And my enthusiasm for racing and regattas and traveling to regattas has never been higher. But somehow along the way I forgot my Laser.

How did that happen?

Do I need to keep the Laser any more?

Should I sell it?


John Fracisco said...

I have a Laser, and would love to try the Aero. You are fortunate that you at least have some nucleus of Aero sailing in your neighborhood.

How do you transport your Aero since it appears that your Laser is firmly attached to your Laser trailer?

Tillerman said...

The Laser trailer is the Trailex trailer specifically designed for transporting the Laser, with gunwale supports and a swivel bow. I have had this for many years

For my Aero I bought a Right-On Trailer that carries the Aero on its dolly.

Actually the Laser on its dolly will also fit on the Right-On trailer, so even if I do decide to keep the Laser, my plan is to get rid of the Trailex trailer and keep the Right-On trailer which I could then use to transport either the Laser or the Aero. All part of the plan to declutter and make life simpler!

torrid said...

Did anyone come up with an an adapter that allows you to haul an RS Aero on a Kitty Hawk or Trailex trailer? I thought I read something about that.

Tillerman said...

Yes torrid, I think some people have adapted the Kitty Hawk and the Trailex to carry the Aero. But I believe the Kitty Hawk is no longer available. Plus my Trailex is really old and I really needed a new trailer anyway. And I decided that if I was only going to have one trailer I preferred the Right-On "slide the dolly on and off the trailer" mode.

Actually, last year I was using my Laser on the Trailex as a platform to carry my Aero around - with the Aero upside down on top of the Laser supported by some foam blocks. But, practical as that was, I thought it was too much of an indignity for my good old Laser to use her purely as a platform for carrying my Aero. She might have got a complex about it.

John Fracisco said...

Which dolly did you go with? Peter's Dynamic Dolly or the gunwhale supporting RS trolley?

franknprintr said...

So Captain Tillerman,
I have a good friend that is talking seriously about buying a $6500 Laser now from the fine folks on the "West Coast." Should I steer her away from the Laser and push her towards an Aero? That's the $7000 question. I would love to have another Laser in our small fleet, but... I sailed the Aero at Menorca and had a fine time. I own two Lasers, do I sell my Lasers now and buy an Aero? Is that truly the wave of the future? Are the stars realigning themselves? What is the meaning of... Laser Sailing... and life?

Tillerman said...

John - I bought a Dynamic Dolly for my RS Aero. She deserves only the best!

franknprintr - I think your friend should try both the RS Aero and the Laser and buy the one she enjoys sailing the most. I am pretty sure which one she will choose.

If you are an existing Laser owner and enjoy sailing it with your current fleet, then I suggest that you keep one of your Lasers for a while but sell the the other Laser and buy an Aero. Then you will have the best of both worlds - the fun of sailing a modern, 21st century dinghy, and the ability to race a design from the 1970s with your local fleet. Over time I think the decision of whether you want to continue as an Aero and Laser owner, or switch to purely sailing the Aero will make itself.

If you are implying that you would have to sell both Lasers in order to buy an Aero then it is a tougher decision.

What is the meaning of Laser sailing? Or perhaps more prosaically, what is the future role of Lasers in the sailing world? I may have another post coming soon on this topic. I have read a couple of interesting views on this recently. I don't think the Aero is going to kill off Laser sailing (at least not in my lifetime) but some people are beginning to speculate on how the Laser and Aero will co-exist and what the specific roles of each class will be.

As for myself, the question in the title of this post was somewhat rhetorical. There's probably another post coming soon on whether or not I will sell my Laser... and why.

George A said...

This is a mental argument which Moth sailors used to have almost every year or so back when the class was more active in the 1960s/70s and new improved designs were constantly coming down the pipeline. In a development class one must keep up with evolving equipment or be at a disadvantage on the race course. And so, old boats were constantly sold off at a deep discount to newbies as starter boats. Now days we have performance brackets and there's a temptation to collect 'em all. I for one have way too many boats and only sail a couple on a regular basis.

In order to keep your sanity I'd advise you to sell the Laser since she's just gathering dust and concentrate on sailing the Aero since it appears that there's now a critical mass of boats to race against. You can probably borrow or charter a Laser if the opportunity to compete in that class arises. This is also the dilemma which owners of Sunfish agonized over when the Laser first appeared. Sometimes it's about the boat; sometimes it's about losing touch with sailors in the old class which you're leaving. The bottom line is that one has only so much time to devote to sailing. If you don't concentrate on the Aero you won't continue to improve in that class against the guys who zero in.

Tillerman said...

Well, that's certainly a strong argument George and I agree with it in principle.

And that's basically what has been happening this summer.

And yet...

Alden Smith said...

Yes you should sell your Laser, I need one to race with the local fleet. I am willing to pay a fair price for it if you pay the freight (I live in New Zealand) LOL.

Anonymous said...

I think you should sell the Laser.

After 40 years of Laser sailing I will not be joining you in an Aero because the Laser continues to offer what I am looking for; consistently high quality, affordable, boat on boat Masters racing at club, inter club, national and international level. I guess I am not a "mess around in boats" guy. When I sail I like to race and the quality of racing at all levels is what will keep me in the Laser for the foreseeable future.

My feeling, having been entertained by your blog for quite some time, is that you love to "mess around in boats" and race more for the sake of a chance to sail with others than for the racing itself. For you I understand that the Aero is perfect and offers the challenges you seek; its easy to sail, lighter, marginally quicker and easier to handle ashore as well as on the water so it makes sense for you to choose it and move on.

I think its Just like buying a new car. How often do you keep the one you just replaced, even though you loved it until the new one arrived?

So give someone else a chance to love your Laser while you enjoy the Aero but remember, the Waszp is coming!

Tillerman said...

You make a good point Anonymous. Racing for racing's sake has never been as important to me as it is to some people. I love to sail. I love to be out on the water enjoying the open air and the scenery. I love the thrill of moving fast through the water, and catching rides on waves. I enjoy the challenge of mastering sailing skills and techniques. I like the camaraderie of sailing. I like to travel to other parts of the world to sail. I am enjoying everything that comes with sailing a new class of boat, the learning, the novelty, the challenge of building a new class and helping it grow.

So that's why it makes sense to sell my Laser and move on.

And yet...

torrid said...

Having two boats makes sense when each offers something different. Years ago I used to race my Laser on Saturday and my 470 on Sunday. The two boats weren't competing for my attention.

Sounds like you have just as much opportunity to race your Aero as the Laser, and you are choosing the Aero. I say sell the Laser.

I'd probably buy an Aero myself (and sell my Laser) if I still lived the sailing lifestyle I did twenty years ago. Life and career have gotten in the way of that, and I mostly keep my Laser out of nostalgia. If I don't sail it for a while, it costs me nothing to keep it parked in the garage.

George A said...

Tillerman: If you're still hem-hawing over this, then sell your current good laser and go buy a beater laser--there's got to be tons of those kicking around in backyards all over Rhode Island. You're knowledgeable enough about the laser to spot a good one at a cheap price amongst the pile on offer. That way you could tinker,(a backyard laser will grubby, have a cockpit full of leaves and a laundry list of deferred maintenance items to work through),and also club race now and then while still pretending to be loyal to the boat. Additional benefit: the less you manhandle a laser (~130 lb hull weight vs 66 lb hull weight) the happier your vertebral discs will be.

Lisa Suhay said...

Send it to our Sunday sailing program in Norfolk, Virginia where we will use it to teach inner city kids how to sail. Then everybody is happy.

Tillerman said...

torrid - I think you put your finger on it. Are there things that the Laser offers that the Aero doesn't (or doesn't yet)? Watch this space.

George - my current Laser IS an old beater Laser!

Lisa - good point. If I do decide to get rid of my Laser, I probably will donate it to some community program rather than sell it.

George A said...

"George - my current Laser IS an old beater Laser!"

Just no leaves in the cockpit I guess...

So here's another idea: get a 4.2 or maybe a radial rig and teach all those tiller extensions to sail. Won't need to agonize over how often they kiss the dock with the bow while learning.

Different subject: Does RS impose the same strangle hold over sails that the Laser class does/did? If so, will the Aero soon see the same big price difference between class legal sails and so-called "practice" sails? I know the rationale for sole source sails is to keep things strictly one-design and thus avoid a sails arms race, but the emerging price difference begs the question on whether or not the real motivation is to create a cash cow for someone. Somehow most other one-design classes seem to thump along ok by publishing their measurement rules and permitting sails to be built by just about any sail maker--as long as those sails measure in.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous( version 1) is right - you have one of the best laser fleets (possibly worldwide) local to you, offering exceptional racing. If you sail to race then I would absolutely stick with the Laser - the Aero will not be able to match the Laser offering at any level for some time, if ever. For me - I stay with the Laser because it offers challenging Masters level racing at club, regional, national and international level , with the chance to travel to some cool places. I sailed an Aero this summer a couple of times, once in 20+ knots, it was great fun, I get the appeal, downwind especially , and how nice to have a decent sized rudder! I also sailed a d-one, also good fun, but not enough fun to move my attention from Laser racing. I guess the same thinking applies to those that still race a Star over newer sports boats, of which there are so many variants.

And you clearly know, the Laser has something special.

Tillerman said...

George - good point - I really should spend more time trying to get my grandkids interested in sailing. A 4.7 rig on my old Laser might do the trick. Another reason to keep it.

As for sails - from what I can see, genuine RS Aero sails from RS Sailing are even more expensive than genuine Laser sails from LaserPerformance. But my experience so far is that the Aero sails stay competitive a lot longer than Laser sails do. Not sure if that means the sails are a "cash cow." In any case, in the grand scheme of things, when I look at what I spend on sailing in a year, a new sail every 3 or 4 years isn't a big deal.

Anonymous - you are right. If I want to do frostbiting locally in a large fleet, then I can only do that in Lasers right now. Although there will be a small local Aero frostbiting fleet too. And there is certainly a community of older sailors who participate in Laser Masters racing. It is great that the Laser is proving to be a boat that can keep older people in the sport. I used to go to Laser Masters Worlds and other major Masters regatta but have lost interest in that lately for some reason. I guess its partly because the Aero is giving me plenty of opportunities to travel to cool places to race.

Lisa Suhay said...

Speaking of getting kids into husband is the guy who broke the distance sailing Guinness World Record in a Laser last year. We just started a new business renting out remote control sailboats here in Norfolk, Virginia. We're teaching sailing tactics and basics since the boats are completely wind-fueled. Just control the sails and rudder.
The boats we have are Nirvanas, but we just recently sailed an RC Laser and are looking at creating a second fleet. This discussion has made me wonder if we should try and contact the designer and create an RC Aero fleet. I think it would be the first of its kind.
Back to the topic at hand, Robert would like to try sailing one. We just don't have the means right now to invest in another big boat.

Tillerman said...

Hi Lisa - I thought your last name was familiar for some reason.

Good luck with the RC Laser fleet. I do have one but haven't sailed it for a while. Another thing I could do with my grandkids, I am sure.

I have not heard any discussions about an RC version of the RS Aero.

I am not sure who your local RS Sailing dealer is, but Zim Sailing is the regional distributor for the north-east. If you contacted them they ought to be able to let you know who you local dealer is and how to get a demo sail in an RS Aero.

Brian Smokler said...

Keep it. Get a 4.7 rig and practice sail and get your soon to be old enough grandkids out in it. Re: My 13 year old son asked if we could sail TOGETHER in a Vanguard 15 in this weekend's regatta instead of individually in Lasers. Sometimes life deals you a full house.

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