Friday, August 19, 2005


My sailing club has an active Force 5 fleet. The Force 5 is basically a Laser clone that was launched shortly after the Laser in the early 70s. It has never achieved the world-wide success of the Laser but has its small band of enthusiastic owners.

I have never understood why anyone would choose to sail a Force 5 rather than a Laser. It is slightly slower, less prone to plane and not as exciting downwind. There are many fewer regattas to attend and those regattas have much lower attendances.

Whenever I ask Force 5 owners why they prefer the Force 5 to the Laser they almost always say it is more "comfortable".

Comfortable? I can think of many reasons for selecting a board boat but comfortable is not one of my top 100 criteria. I'd choose a boat because it is exciting or challenging or even because it looks cool. But comfortable? What's comfortable about sitting on a 14 foot of fiberglass a few inches off the water for hours at a time?

When I press the point with a Force 5 owner he sprawls across his boat, feet over one side, head over the other as if he is relaxing in a hot tub. "Try doing that in a Laser," he says. Hmmm. Excuse me but why would anyone want to race in that position? You can't see where you're going, you can't adjust the position of your body to balance the boat in response to changes in wind strength and if you need to tack it will take you an extra few seconds to react. And in any case, if you did try sailing a Laser like that it's not especially uncomfortable. But no self-respecting Laser sailor would attempt such an unseamanlike feat.

But for the dwindling band of old guys who sail Force 5's, I guess that "comfortable" is some kind of rationale for their illogical choice. It reminds me of one of the claims made for the ill-fated Ford Edsel. It was said that you could change gears with a toothpick. (Apparently it had buttons in the steering wheel to control the transmission.) Wow! Even if it's true and even if you are one of those folk who always keep a pack of toothpicks in the car for the express purpose of changing gears...... what on earth were you thinking when you bought such a piece of junk?


EVK4 said...

I get the comfortable on a settle into a nice long tack, balance the boat, open a soda and bag of pretzels, and get comfortable.

I don't see going for long cruises in a fact it just seems dangerous to do that. Maybe they're frustrated keelboaters that don't live somewhere deep enough for one?

I'm with you here.

Anonymous said...

Why rag on another sailors choice of boat?

Perhaps they prefer a smaller fleet.

Perhaps they do not care for the superior attitude of the local Laser sailors.

Perhaps they enjoy sailing their Force 5 in comfort when not racing.

If you select your boat purely on maximum speed, then there are loads of boardboats that will beat the Laser. Not to mention multihulls.

The need to criticize another mans boat reveals much about you.

-B Smith
Beneteau 31
Holder 20
Hobie 16

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