Laser Sailing Tips

Advice For Laser Sailors
Of All Levels

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Discover how to start the sport of Laser sailing with our step-by-step guide that quickly gets you onto the water.

Even with NO experience at all, we simplify the process to help you learn the basics of sailing, along with tips and techniques used by expert sailors. This means you can get the most out of your Laser Sailing Dinghy faster!

Beginners Guide to Laser Sailing

Below is some information to start laser sailing and what you should expect when you start.

Click on the links below to see handy tips and tricks to help you:

sailing theory

Sailing theory to give you a better understanding of the basic principles

buying your dinghy

What to look for when buying your dinghy

Laser dinghy on dolly and trailer

The places to look for a laser dinghy for sale, and the best questions to ask

Laser rudder tiller and tiller extension

All the major controls and fittings on a Laser, and what they do

laser sailing knots

A step-by-step guide on how to tie all the knots on your Laser dinghy

Attention All Laser Sailing Newbies & Enthusiasts...

Laser Sailing Tips - helping you get the most out of your Laser dinghy

Laser Sailing Tips - helping you get the most out of your Laser dinghy


Enough with the contemplating! The perfect time to uncover the simple steps that will get you sailing has never been closer.

Without the advice shared here, you might find yourself investing more of your valuable time and hard-earned cash than necessary!

If your heart is set on diving into the world of Laser sailing, I have some exciting news for you.

Over nearly three decades, I've been mastering the art of sailing. In recent years, I've started Laser dinghy. Over that time I have spent countless hours learning about laser sailing by:

  • talking to other keen sailors,
  • reading the best sailing books,
  • browsing other great sailing websites, and
  • trial and error on the water...

to find the best ways to get up to speed in this great sport.

Here’s the good news… it doesn’t have to be like that for you!

Here at Laser Sailing Tips, we share many of the tips that beginners can use immediately to start the journey into Laser sailing.

Even if you are not a beginner, or if you sail other types of dinghies or even yachts, I am sure that you will be able to pick up some useful tips.

One of the great things about sailing is that there is always more to learn. Whether you are learning the basics of sailing or are at a more advanced level, learning from others is one of the best ways to speed up your knowledge.

And the best part is that this information is available to you FREE!!

So read on, and in no time you will be experiencing what 1000’s of others are experiencing… the enjoyment of sailing a Laser.

To your sailing freedom,

Brendan at

ps. I'd appreciate any feedback and ideas you may have for this site. Please contact us if you have your own laser sailing tips you'd like included, and we will recognize your contribution as expected.

pps. Send me any questions you have about Laser sailing. I always try to answer all questions.

ppps. I'd love it is you could share this information on Facebook and Twitter. Click on the sharing links on each page to share. The greater our efforts in broadening the reach of Laser sailing, the better :-)

Next: About Laser Sailing Tips

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  1. paul kench on July 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Hi thank you for the site, it has aleady been really useful. My problem has been severe weather helm as the wind increases and it seems that increasing the downhaul tension should help this, I do have one further question that I was hoping that you could help me with. When we bought the boat it came with what is apparently a slightly shortened centreboard. How much do you think that this could affect the weather helm and could you tell me the correct length of a centreboard so that I can see how by how much it has been shortened. Thank you very much in advance. Paul Kench

    • admin on July 13, 2011 at 7:25 am

      Hi Paul
      Glad that you’ve found the site useful. I don’t think that the shortening of the centreboard a little would cause the weather helm that you mention. Sounds like you are just overpowered. As the wind increases, if you start heeling more, this will naturally tend to point the boat up into the breeze, causing the weather helm. Try flattening out the boat more using the cunningham, outhaul and vang. Hike out hard. This should help keep the boat flatter, reducing the weather helm, and increasing speed.
      As for the correct length of the centreboard, you may want to check out the current rules.
      Cheers and all the best!

  2. Mark on July 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Great site. A Really nice read. I’ve a quick question, I found myself in an uncomfortable situation not long ago. I was around 1 mile off shore practicing beats when the tide turned and the wind dropped to nothing (literally nothing). I couldn’t move the boat at all and gently bobbed with the tide drifting out to sea! Fortunately the wind rolled in and I was able to sail back but I spent a good 20mins I panicking! If I’m close to the shore I usually paddle the boat back. Do you know of any techniques to somehow get back in when you’re quite far out (as paddling 1 mile is likely beyond me)?


    • admin on July 19, 2011 at 3:08 am

      Hi Mark
      Thanks for your comments and question.
      Not a good spot to be in! I thankfully haven’t been out when there is absolutely no wind. Other than paddling I’m not sure what you can do. You can try moving the rudder from side to side which will push the boat forward – not ideal for large distances and probably doesn’t do your gear much good. Other than that, keep an eye out for any puffs of wind on the water that you may be able to use to your advantage, as well as any approaching motor boats and ask for a tow. Maybe some of the other readers have some suggestions??
      Let us know if you discover anything more useful.
      All the best

      • Alan on September 2, 2011 at 1:05 am

        Have you thought of strapping a kayak paddle (which can be broken in two) to the mast and using it for paddling home?

        Also, if the current is not too strong you can make some progress (I suspect about an mile an hour) by standing on the bow an gunnel bobbing – rocking back and forth. This takes a bit of practice but it is effective.


        • Fernando Mendonça on October 24, 2012 at 12:20 am

          I always carry a cell phone on board for emergencies. Excuse my English but I use google trasnlate.

          • admin on October 28, 2012 at 7:02 am

            Nice tip Fernando!

      • S on July 28, 2015 at 11:59 am

        Takes some balance but take the main sheet in your hand and stand in front of the mast. Rock the boat side to side as much as you are comfortable. More the better. This should get you going a couple of knots once you get comfortable.

    • Andrew on November 9, 2013 at 10:09 am

      If you run out of wind, never paddle. You need to create your own wind by rocking the boat. One way is to stand up with one foot on either side of the deck, heel the boat over by loading up one foot, then roll the boat back by loading up the other foot. This will induce flow over the sail, and you will move forwards. The other, more advanced option, is to tie off the tiller, sheet in the main and quickly run onto the foredeck. Whilst holding the mainsheet in one hand and two hands on the mast, you can flop the mast from side to side with your hands and body and generate good speed. You steer by heeling the boat and using the shape of the hull to turn. Never paddle. It’s a waste of time and energy compared to rocking

      • admin on November 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        Thanks Andrew. Sounds like it’s worth a try. Thankfully I’ve never been in that situation, but will give it a go if / when caught out next time.

  3. Tiago on August 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    What a site.
    Huge amount of info for one who wants to learn a bit about the boat before buying one.
    Extremly usefull.
    I’ll be back to learn more!

    • admin on August 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

      hi Tiago
      Thanks for your comments. Glad you like it the site have found it useful. Good luck with your Laser sailing :)

  4. Col on November 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Brendan thanks for putting together such a great site. I’ve just bought a laser and am very keen to get out there sailing on Sundays at my local sailing club. Thanks to your articles I’m a little more prepared. The laser I bought does not have a turbo kit installed however I notice that most at the club do have them. What is your take on the benefits of a turbo kit at novice level? Col

    • admin on November 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      hi Col
      Thanks for visiting my site and for your question.
      You definitely don’t need a turbo kit when you are just starting out. They are quite expensive, so if you are just testing to see whether you will continue with the sport, you can (as you have done) buy a boat without the turbo kit, and always upgrade at a later date. By installing the new blocks, cleats and control lines in the kit, it provides more purchase and easier access to the lines, making adjustment of the vang, cunningham and outhaul easier. This allows more precise tuning, which may give you the competitive edge.
      Hope this helps. Good luck with your laser sailing journey.
      All the very best.

  5. kresten on May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Hi, what is the max speed of a laser? and how easy is it to get it there?
    Best regards

    • admin on May 24, 2012 at 7:02 am

      Hi Kresten
      Good question. There’s a lot of talk out there, but as for the maximum recorded speed, one site that I saw claimed it at 16.8 knots (click here). On a broad reach in good conditions, I thought that would have been pretty reasonable to reach that speed. With some waves, I thought you’d be able to do that pretty easy :)

  6. Pacman on May 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    All of this site is excellent

    • admin on May 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Pacman, appreciate your feedback

  7. Fred on May 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    highly nice post, i absolutely love this web site

    • admin on May 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Cheers Fred :)

  8. Garfield on May 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Very interesting subject, appreciate it for putting up.

    • admin on May 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks Garfield, I’m happy that that you found it useful.

  9. roofer on May 27, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Wow, that’s what I was exploring for, thanks admin of this website.

    • admin on May 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      No problems, roofer. Glad you enjoyed it

  10. Seth on August 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I purchased a used Laser Pico and do not think the rigging on the boom is correct. I guess this is the outhaul. I need very clear step by step instructions. The instructions in the manual and on websites goes to fast for me. Are there any videos or step by step instructions just for this part??? Thank you, Seth

    • admin on August 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Seth. Thanks for your question. I am not familiar with the pico, just the standard Laser, so can’t give you specific advice. If you can’t seem to get the setup right, or find info on YouTube, maybe head down to your local club and ask around. Sailors are generally a friendly and helpful bunch, and I’m sure that there will be plenty of people around that will be able to offer you the specific rigging advice you are after. Best of luck

  11. Julian on October 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

    My query concerns the launching trolley for a Laser Pico – very similar, I think, to the standard Laser trolley. The trolley is designed to support the boat by the gunwales rather than the keel as in trollies for most other types of dinghy. The problem is that the supports have separated so that they are wider apart that the gunwales and if one side is supported, the other support is outside the gunwale. There is no adjustment as it is all welded together. The trolley is otherwise in good condition. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how the supports can be drawn in by about 2-3 inches?

    • admin on October 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Julian
      It’s a bit of an unusual problem. Not sure how this could happen. Presuming that the trolley did actually fit the dinghy at some stage, it must have been bent out of shape. Maybe a welder or a fitter and turner could bend it and / or re-weld it so that it would be at the the correct width again for your boat.
      Not sure if some other readers have seen / experienced this before, and can offer some advice.
      Hope you get it sorted.

  12. James on April 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I just bought 1988 dingy laser. First time sailing in open water I only flipped it 3 times. It rights up well. I weigh 230. Anyway , I paid 1500.00 for laser dingy 4 sails two masts all rigging and dolly… Is this a good deal.?

    • admin on April 7, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Hi James.
      That’s a bit like saying “How long is a piece of string”. For me, it really depends on the condition. If it’s in great condition, with no soft spots in the hull, the spars, sails, foils and ropes are all good, then $1500 is probably pretty good. But if it’s at the other end of the spectrum, and it’s seen much better days, then it may not be such a good deal. There’s a fairly wide range in prices on the market, and a fairly wide range of condition with boats on offer… hence why I put this guide together. Anyway, hope that helps a little.

  13. charles susino on May 13, 2014 at 1:56 am

    do you or any of your readers have experience using a turbo sail on their laser. It is claimed to have 125 ft2 so it is a considerably bigger sail than the standard 76. My question or concern is since I own a laser from the 80’s, can the mast stem, mast, and rigging withstand the added stresses and forces from the larger sail. I love the thought of the additional speed especially with a crew of two but concerned about damage.

    • admin on May 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Charles
      I don’t have any experience with the turbo sail.
      I know that you can have issues with the mast step, so if there’s any extra forces in this area, it may lead to some problems.
      There’s an interesting discussion here, if you want some further reading. Maybe some of the other readers can help out.

  14. Zoe on December 20, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I am 15 and a keen dinghy sailor having grown up into the business. Last year I began single handing in a topaz, sometimes using an asymmetric spinnaker by converting into a topaz race X. I also love to crew: fireball, merlin, cadet, mirror you name it!
    I am looking at moving out of the topaz and into a laser radial but will only have money from selling my topaz to buy a laser.
    a) is it a good idea to move into a laser? If not do you have any suggestions of single handers?
    b) do you think I could find a decent laser for that range? (My topaz is 2 years old, only been sailed for 1 year)
    Any help would be greatly appreciated,

    • admin on December 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Zoe
      Thanks for your questions.
      It’s great to see that you are so keen.
      Regarding your questions, in my opinion it depends on what you are after. Lasers are very popular, and because they are one-design you can generally find plenty of clubs around where there is quality racing each week. They can be raced right through from beginners up to advanced, so can cater for all abilities. They are not the fastest boat out on the water, but I think it’s the closeness of the racing that attracts so many people to them.
      Considering how old your topaz is, it should still get a decent price. You won’t be able to get a new laser for the same amount, but you should be able to get something pretty reasonable. There are generally plenty on offer, so just keep your eye out and let people know that you are looking for one, so they can keep an eye out too.
      By the sounds of it, you should have plenty of contacts at the clubs, so why not ask to take someone’s out for a spin one day so you can judge it for yourself. Also have a look around and see if there is anything else that catches your attention and maybe try them out too so that you can compare.
      All the best

  15. James on April 22, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Hey, I’m 16 and I weigh 215lbs, would I be competitive, if I were to get Into laser racing? Or is that to heavy to be competitive?

    • Admin on April 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Hi James
      Yeah, 215 lbs is a bit heavy than most sailing the laser, so especially in the lighter breeze, you might struggle to keep up. If it’s generally quite breezy where you live, it might make it a bit easier for you though.
      Check out this thread for some more info… click here.

  16. Mike on August 15, 2015 at 1:06 am

    I just sailed my used laser for the first time. I noticed that I got a bit of water in the boat (not in the cockpit, but in the hull). I took the drain plug out in the stern of the boat and it drained out. What would cause this?

    • Admin on August 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Mike
      Thanks for your question.
      Water getting into the hull would most probably be from cracks. This can happen in a few ways. When your deck and hull gets soft, there can be tiny cracks that can allow water to penetrate. You can also get cracks in and around the mast step, fin case, plus where the deck and hull join together.
      So when you are buying your laser, always check out the stiffness of the deck. Also, a sign that there may have been repairs in the past is an inspection port. If the repair job was a bit dodgy, the inspection port or the repair job itself may leak a bit. And if you are keen and got some time up your sleeve, you can fill up the mast step and see if the water level drops. This may indicate a leak.
      Hope this helps a little.

  17. jackson on March 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Hi, This is such a useful site! I was just wondering if there is anything in the laser class rules against painting your boat a different colour than “laser grey”. I have noticed that you see almost no lasers in different colours apart from laser grey. I thought it would be pretty cool to have a laser that has a unique colour but I thought I would just check here in case. Thanks again for the amazing site.

    Cheers- Jackson

    • Admin on March 29, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Jackson
      Thanks for that… I really appreciate your comments.
      From what I understand, as long as you don’t make the hull lighter in weight to improve its performance, you should probably be ok.
      That being said, if you paint it, it will probably add to the weight, so (other than looking cool) it may have a negative effect.
      There is a bit of a discussion here, so make sure you check it out.
      All the best

  18. norefill on June 11, 2016 at 5:55 am

    I just got a 1976 Laser and I’m sure its a little soft and prob had repairs but for a couple of bucks it might help me learn to sail. I have had it out three time and I made it back to the dock all three times. It has also captsized and it rights up pretty easy. I was looking at parts as I need a new hiking strap and saw that plastic bottles for air are sold as a replacement for styrofoam. Looking through the inspection port I do not see anything to aid in floatation. Do I need these bottles? Will the boat sink without them? Thanks for your help.

    • Admin on June 20, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Hi there
      No, you shouldn’t need any styrofoam, as the hull should be watertight, meaning that it won’t sink. It’s fairly common for older lasers to take on a bit of water, as they can form small cracks that can let a small amount of water in, but if it’s letting in enough water that you are worried about it sinking, then you might want to investigate further and get the leaks fixed. It might have more substantial cracks around the fin case or mast step.

  19. fabio on October 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    im an italian just land in sydney. i would like to have sometimes a nice sails on a laser. do you know someone who hire them?
    thank you all

    • Admin on October 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Fabio
      Thanks for your message.
      There are a few places that hire laser dinghies out, but many require you to be a member of the club first. So you may have to ask really nicely… you never know – you might get lucky :)
      Check out these places:

      Otherwise just wander down to the local clubs and ask around.
      Some of the locals may know of somewhere that can help out. If anyone knows of anywhere that rents Lasers, please leave details below.
      Enjoy your time in Sydney, and I hope that you have a great time out on the harbour.

  20. A. Charlotte on September 18, 2023 at 3:36 am

    Hello I am a new laser sailing. I have had past experience in sailing the opti for the past 6 years. But it seems while I am training with the local race team I am going very slow compared to the other lasers. And im not sure why, we are all in ILCA 6/radial. Do you have any tips for boat handling?

    • Admin on September 18, 2023 at 7:17 am


      Thanks for your message. It’s great to hear that you’re transitioning from Opti sailing to Laser sailing! The Laser is a great dinghy, but it can be quite different from the Opti in terms of handling and speed. Here are some tips to help improve your handling and performance in a Laser:

      • – Body Positioning: Laser sailing requires careful attention to body positioning. Make sure your body is balanced in the boat. Keep your weight centered when sailing upwind, and hike out (lean out over the side of the boat) as much as possible when required to help control the boat’s heel and maximize speed.
      • – Sail Trim: Pay close attention to your sail trim. Make sure your sail is set up correctly with the appropriate tension on the vang, downhaul, and outhaul. Adjust the sail shape and trim to match the wind conditions. Generally, you want a flatter sail in strong winds and a fuller sail in lighter winds. Check out the sail setup and angles of trim of other sailors.
      • – Tacking and Gybing: Practice your tacks and gybes to minimize the time your boat spends off-course during these maneuvers. Smooth transitions are key to maintaining speed and control.
      • – Starts and Mark Roundings: Start line tactics and mark roundings can make a significant difference to your race performance. Study race strategy and practice these situations with your local race team.
      • – Fitness and Endurance: Laser sailing is physically demanding. Make sure that you’re in good all-round physical shape and work on your endurance, especially for longer races or windy conditions.
      • – Learn from Others: Don’t hesitate to approach experienced Laser sailors in your area and ask for tips or even go out sailing with them. Observing how they handle the boat and their techniques can be really useful. Watch how others start, tack and gybe, as well as their body position and and sail setup.
      • – Watch the water: Look for wind gusts and shifts. Try to keep your boat in breeze, so this might mean favoring one side of the course, or tacking before sailing into a lull in the breeze. As you sail into a knock, you might want to tack to get a better sailing angle.
      • – Keep Learning: Laser sailing is a continuous learning process. Attend clinics, watch Youtube videos, and read books on Laser sailing to gather more insights and improve your skills. Then practice what you have just learned to better understand it. There are also plenty of resources on this website, so make sure that you check them out.
      • – Mental Toughness: Sailing can be mentally challenging. Stay positive, learn from your mistakes, and maintain focus during races.
      • – Safety: Always prioritize safety. Wear appropriate gear and be aware of weather conditions and potential hazards on the water.

      This is not an exhaustive list, but as you can see, there are a lot of things that you can do to improve your performance. I am sure that others may have some other ideas on things that you can do as well. Remember that Laser sailing is a highly competitive sport, and perfecting the basics and overall improvement takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself, and keep working on your skills.
      Best of luck with your Laser sailing, and I hope these tips help!

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