World’s most popular sailboat class.

Bruce Kirby designed the Laser in 1970 with an emphasis on simplicity, performance, and to sail singlehanded.  It was unveiled at the New York Boat Show in 1971, and the first world championship was held in 1974 in Bermuda.  The Laser became a men’s Olympic-class boat at the 1996 Summer Olympics.  A version with a smaller sail, the Laser Radial, was first sailed as a women’s Olympic-class boat at the 2008 Summer Olympics.  Arguably the greatest champion of the Laser Class is Brazilian Robert Scheidt, who won the world championship eight times and won two gold and one silver Olympic medals.

In the U.S., the Laser is manufactured by LaserPerformance.  The Laser’s hull is made out of GRP with a foam layer underneath for strength and buoyancy. The daggerboard is removable for storage and transport.  Three rigs are recognized by the International Laser Association: The Laser Standard, Laser Radial, and Laser 4.7.  The Laser Radial has a shorter mast and reduced sail area from the standard, even more so for the Laser 4.7.  The Laser Standard’s LOA measures 13.8’, a LWL of 12.5’, a beam of 4.49’, a draft of 2.62’, and a sail area of 75.99 sq. ft.  The hull weighs 130 lbs., which makes the boat light enough to lift onto a car-top rack. Lasers are all cat-rigged in that they have only a main sail and no head sail. The Laser Standard sail has a sail area of 76.’  

As of 2018, there were more than 215,000 Lasers worldwide, with sailors in 120 countries.  It is robust and simple to rig and sail, while also providing very competitive racing due to the very tight class controls.  The Laser hull can be fitted with different interchangeable rigs with varying sail area and similar parts, allowing a wide range of sailors to sail and compete in a range of wind conditions.  

The Marblehead Laser Fleet continues to grow, welcomes all, and offers a buddy program, loaner boats, handicap scoring, special programs, and more.  Summer racing takes place on Tuesday nights.  The fall series kicks off with the Ponce de Leon Regatta in mid-September and runs to mid-November.  In the spring and fall frostbite season there are as many as 30 Lasers that race out of Marblehead,  Almost none of the Lasers have names. 

What do you think of this fast racing machine?  See Patrick Andreasen’s Bernie, one exception to the nameless Lasers.