Friday, April 29, 2016

7 Reasons Why the Laser is Better than the RS Aero

Once people hear that I, a long-time Laser sailor, bought an RS Aero last year they usually want to know what the differences are between the two boats. So here are 7 of the reasons why I think the Laser is better than the Aero.

1. Recognition
Anybody who sees me with my RS Aero usually comes over and starts ogling my boat and drooling on it and babbling about how cool it looks and acting like a little kid in a toy store two weeks before Xmas, and generally being really annoying. "What is this?" they eventually ask in spite of the fact that it says RS Aero quite clearly on the hull. Duh!

What is this?

Whereas when I take my Laser to the local boat ramp, everybody recognizes it as a familiar and much-loved boat, which is why they usually come on over and ask, "Is that a Sunfish?"

Is that a Sunfish?

2. Weight
The total weight of a Laser is about 170 lbs so you can get a great workout doing things like hauling it up the beach after four hours of hard sailing, or helping little weak people to lift their Lasers on to the roof racks of their super-high giant SUVs.

Manly man training to lift a Laser on to a roof rack

Whereas the RS Aero only weighs about 75 lbs so it practically runs up the beach by itself and you can lift it on a roof rack with your little finger so it provides absolutely no fitness benefits whatsoever.

3. Mainsheet Fun
The Laser has been cleverly designed with the sheet running to a traveler at the rear of the boat and nice square corners at the rear end of the hull which will conveniently catch the sheet if it trails in the water when you are gybing and give you a surprise by quickly capsizing the boat and throwing you in the water. Ha ha ha!

Ha ha ha!

Whereas the designer of the RS Aero, for reasons I just don't understand, designed it with a center sheeting system so you get none of the above-mentioned surprise capsize fun that you get with a Laser. Boring!

4. Bathtub Fun
Similarly the brilliant man who designed the Laser gave it an ingenious tiny autobailer that carefully and slowly drains the water out of the cockpit. So if you are lucky enough to stuff the bow of a Laser into a wave you will fill the cockpit with water and you will be able to enjoy a nice refreshing soak in a cockpit full of water for about ten minutes while the bailer gently empties the cockpit. It's even better than that really because all that water in your cockpit slows the boat down so you can have an even more relaxing time soaking in the tub as you wave to all your buddies sailing past you.

Manly man soaking in tub

Whereas the designer of the RS Aero foolishly designed the RS Aero with an open transom that drains the water out of the cockpit so fast that it's all gone before you can get a chance to enjoy it. Boring again!

5. Head-banging Fun
One of the most exciting things about sailing a Laser is that the boom is so nice and low that you have to duck down really low to avoid getting conked on the head by the boom every time you tack or gybe. I even had an instructor once who used to tell us to "kiss the cleat" every time we tacked. This is an excellent exercise for keeping you agile and flexible as you get older.

Of course sometimes you don't get quite low enough and you get a sharp knock on the head from the boom to remind you to try harder next time. And then after racing you can compare the bruises and bumps on your head with your fellow Laser sailors and boast about them over a few beers.

Whereas... yes you guessed it, the RS Aero has completely done away with this feature of the Laser. The boom is so high you could practically stand up during gybes! What fun is that?  If you don't have any injuries what are you going to boast about?

6. Tossing the Caber
One of the best things about the Laser is that it has a sleeved sail. To rig the boat you just slip the mast into the sleeve and then lift the rig into the air like one of those Scottish blokes tossing the caber and pop the mast into the mast step. This is so much fun to do and great exercise especially when it's blowing 30 knots. It is always gratifying to show off your "tossing the caber" skills to the newbie Laser sailors who haven't mastered the art yet.  And if you are really lucky, some gorgeous little lady Laser sailor will ask a manly man like you for help in tossing her caber.

Manly man in kilt
stepping a Laser mast

Whereas the RS Aero has a bit of string called a halyard to pull up the sail. What a crazy idea! Anyone can do that. Even gorgeous little ladies.

7. The Wisdom of Crowds

Lasers have been around since 1971! Over 200,000 Lasers have been sold! Where I live in Rhode Island we regularly get 40-50 people out sailing Lasers in our local frostbite fleet all winter long!

So if you like bumping gunwales with the same 40-50 guys you have been bumping gunwales with for the last 45 years - and who doesn't? - then the Laser is the boat for you.

Whereas if you buy a new RS Aero you will have all the hassle of trying to persuade your friends to buy RS Aeros and come sailing with you. And then you will have to persuade some sailing club to host your RS Aero fleet. And then you will have to persuade regatta organizers to let RS Aeros come to their regattas.  Who needs all that botheration?

And then, at those RS Aero regattas, you might end up racing people like former surfers and windsurfers and kiteboard sailors and even recovering keelboat sailors  - people who have never even owned a Laser in their lives! Can you believe such people actually exist? Do you really want to associate with them? Oh the humanity!

I think I'll go for a sail in my Laser now.

Update: April 4 2019. There is still a Laser in my garage but I haven't sailed it for several years. Owning an RS Aero has that effect on people. In honor of my move from the Laser to an RS Aero I have also started a new blog - Aerobian. Please check it out.


Drwatershed said...

You make some great points. You forgot about how the laser tiller has to go under that aforementioned traveller in such a way that a groove is worn in it so you have an excuse to buy a bright shiny new tiller every few years. where does one purchase those RS Aeros ?

Tillerman said...

Thanks Drwatershed. You make a good point about the Laser tiller. It has another terrific design feature too in that it is easy to forget that it should go UNDER the traveler line, not OVER it. I rigged it over the line the first time I tried a Laser. What a thrill to go on a planing reach in 20 knots to a mile offshore and then realize it is physically impossible to tack to sail back to shore! So much fun!

You purchase RS Aeros from your local RS Sailing dealer. How many do you want to buy? If you tell me where you are based I will point you to the right place.

Dan Gurney said...

Why not mention the Laser's mini rudder blade? It's so small and easy to load into the trunk of your car and store at home.

Also, while sailing fast downwind it readily washes out for those refreshing and exciting death roll swims.

Tillerman said...

Good points Dan. I also like the way that if you drop the Laser rudder in deep water it will sink giving you the perfect excuse to buy a new one.

Unknown said...

Oh. My. God. I was laughing so hard at some of these reasons why the Laser is better. I feel very comfortable, as my Force 5 has many similar features. I do feel left out of Laserdom, however, because the Laser side decks build manly-man fortitude while hiking, unlike the curvalicious Force 5 side decks.

Tillerman said...

Brian, you will probably enjoy even more 7 Reasons Why Force 5s are Better than Lasers.

Yourblogfan said...

10 years ago I was in England, with a group of people who designed what they referred to as the 'Laser Killer'. A boat much like the Aero. They failed after finding out that that people found it boring and preferred to sail, a boat in which the rudder is too small needing heeling to steer, and the main sheet can get caught on the transom, if the sailor is not good enough. But now days Laser sailors are so upset with the difficulty of finding Laser class approved parts and the fights between builders, that they may be looking for an alternative.

Unknown said...

I agree with all seven points, except the sleeved sail. When it's blowing less than 20 mph, I agree that the Aero halyard is more convenient. But when it's blowing bigger than that, I end up having the put the Aero on its side to get the sail up properly. So, the Aero's halyard, for me, hasn't been quite as convenient as I was hoping it would be in comparison to the Laser's sleeved sail.

Tillerman said...

Interesting Dion. I guess that so far I've always had the benefit of a relatively sheltered area to rig my RS Aero even when it's honking out in the sailing area, so I haven't had the same problem as you. But although my tongue-in-cheek post may have presented a one-sided view of the issue, I do see some advantages and disadvantages for both the sleeved sail and the halyard.

Yourblogfan - you could be right. The bungled attempt by the owners of the Australian builder to take over the European Laser market and the lawsuits by Bruce Kirby against the Laser class and the other major Laser builder have caused a lot of turmoil in Laser world. I suspect that this is a factor in opening the minds of some Laser sailors to consider another boat at this time.

SoxSail said...

So Tillerman, what Aero regattas are you signed up for?

Tillerman said...

Wickford Regatta - June 11/12
Massapoag Small Boat Regatta - June 18
Newport Regatta - July 8-10 (registration not open yet but I will be there.)
RS Aero US Nationals - Columbia River Gorge - Aug 10-14
67th Annual Massapoag YC Regatta - Sep 10/11 (registration not open yet but I will be there.)

Want to come and join me SoxSail? Email me at if you want info about RS Aero charters for these events.

Unknown said...

Tillerman, your 7 Reasons Why Force 5's Are Better Than Lasers was how I knew I'd picked a good boat for me to play with. Better than trying to find a cheap Laser to play with!

Tillerman said...

Pleased to be of service Brian.

Let's face it - you can have fun in a Force 5, or a Sunfish, or a Laser, or an RS Aero.

It's really not worth arguing about which is best.

But friends don't let friends sail Flying Scots. I think we can all agree on that?

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