Top 19 Laser Sailing FAQs

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Welcome to our Laser Sailing Tips Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have any questions that are not covered below, please let us know and we will endeavor to answer them for you.

Alternatively, if you have any tips that you think others may find useful or questions that you know that people have and you can answer, please feel free to share your knowledge.

  1. How long is a laser sailing race?
  2. How old is my laser sailing dinghy?
  3. How does laser sailing work?
  4. How to rig a laser sailing boat?
  5. What is laser sailing?
  6. What to wear laser sailing?
  7. What is laser radial sailing?
  8. How much do laser sailboats cost?
  9. How fast do laser sailboats go?
  10. How much does a laser sailboat weigh?
  11. How long is a laser dinghy?
  12. What to look for when buying a laser dinghy?
  13. Where to put tell tales on a laser sail?
  14. Where to buy a laser sailboat
  15. Where are laser sailboats made?
  16. How to fold a laser sail?
  17. When is the Laser sailing season?
  18. Where is my nearest Laser sailing club?
  19. Where can you sail a Laser?

How long is a laser sailing race?

The length of a laser race varies. It is normally determined by the race committee depending on the weather conditions on race day. Moreover, a lot of sailors nowadays assess the length of the race according to the estimated time it takes for the race to be over rather than the actual distance traveled.

How old is my laser sailing dinghy?

Laser sailing dinghy boat number foil sticker
Laser sailing dinghy boat number foil sticker

To determine the age of your laser dinghy, you will first have to check the number embedded in the hull. Usually, it is located beneath the bow eye or in the transom.

For more information, click here.

Below is a table of laser sail numbers by year that you can also refer to:

YearHull / Sail Number
197735265 – 42273
197842274 – 56277
197956278 – 72998
198072999 – 86490
198186491 – 93254
198293255 – 104928
1983104929 – 112845
1984112846 – 118022
1985118023 – 123688
1986123689 – 128595
1987128596 – 132231
1988132232 – 136322
1989136323 – 139659
1990139660 – 142789
1991142790 – 145705
1992145706 – 148322
1993148323 – 152360
1994152361 – 155822
1995155823 – 158264
1996158265 – 161382
1997161383 – 164398
1998164399 – 166270
1999166271 – 168874
2000168875 – 171536
2001171537 – 173950
2002173950 – 176694
2003176695 – 179554
2004179555 – 182213
2005182214 – 185370
2006185371 – 188573
2007188574 – 192439
2008192440 – 194846
2009194847 – 197063
2010197064 – 200309
2011200310 – 202431
2012202432 – 204542
2013204543 – 206662
2014206663 – 208458
2015208459 – 210618
2016210619 – 212235
2017212236 – 214962
2018214953 – 216182
2019216183 – 217579
2020217580 – 218359
2021218360 – 220548
2022220549 – 222993
2023222994 – ?

How does laser sailing work?

Laser sailing differs significantly from sailing on other boats. It is very unstable so takes a lot of effort and concentration to get it sailing well. Since the laser dinghy lacks a motor, paddle, or oars, you need to master the skill of using the wind to propel your boat forward. One day, a gentle breeze might allow you to enjoy a quiet day out with nature, but the next day, it could be strong and gusty, testing your skill in coordinating your movements with the boat, the wind, and the water.

How to rig a laser sailing boat?

Different people have different ways of rigging their sailboats. A brief method is outlined below:

  1. Gather all the pieces in one place. Connect both pieces of the mast. Make sure they fit together securely.
  2. Slide the mast into the pocket of the sail. Make sure to insert the battens into the sail.
  3. Put the mast into the mast step on the deck.
  4. Put the front end of the boom into the gooseneck.
  5. Connect the outhaul, fasten the clew-tie-down, and tie it around the boom.
  6. Rig the mainsheet.
  7. Fasten the boom vang to the lowermost part of the mast.
  8. Screw the hull plug into the drain hole.
  9. Fasten the rudder, and connect the tiller and tiller extension.
  10. With the centerboard ready, launch the boat, slide the fin into place and tie off, and set to sail.

For more detailed information, please go to

What is laser sailing?

Laser sailing is a popular water sport that uses a one-design dinghy. Although the design of the boat is straightforward, Laser sailors and racers face a unique set of challenges that require special physical skills. Laser sailing necessitates a high level of fitness so that a sailor is able to withstand the hiking and body-twisting skills vital in sailing, especially when sailing upwind.

Discover more about how laser sailing works at

What to wear laser sailing?

Laser sailing wardrobe depends on the conditions, the season you are sailing, and personal preference. These are some of the items generally used by laser sailors:

  • Life Jacket – This is a must-have for all laser sailors. It should be cut high on the waist to make sitting and crouching easy and comfortable.
  • Dinghy Boots – Use comfortable boots that are light and dry quickly.
  • Sailing Gloves – Good gloves help you hold the lines well without damaging your hands.
  • Hat – Wear a hat with a brim to protect your face from the sun. Tie it to your life jacket so you will not lose it overboard.
  • Polarized Sunglasses – The glare of the sun bouncing off the water and your deck will put a lot of strain on your eyes if you do not protect them with sunglasses.
  • Dinghy Smock – A great option for laser sailors. Lighter colors work best because they protect you when it’s cool and wet, but do not get as hot when it’s sunny.
  • Wetsuit – some prefer full length to protect knees and elbows, while others prefer the shorter varieties that allow more flexibility.
  • Thermal Pants – Thermal pants are especially useful in cooler conditions providing warmth when wet.
  • Light Rash Vest – Helps keep the sun off your arms.
  • Thermal Rash Vest – Acts like the light rash vest but is more appropriate for early spring and late fall when extra warmth is needed.
  • Hiking Pants – Hiking pants (whether short or long) are made of perforated neoprene so it is cool to the skin and do not overheat even on a warmer day.

What is laser radial sailing?

Laser radial sailing is generally for lighter-weight sailors. Unlike the Laser Standard, the Laser Radial has a smaller sail and is preferred by many women laser sailors. But just like the Laser Standard, the design is strictly controlled by the International Class Association. The only modification difference is the size of the sail as well as the lower part of the mast.

How much do laser sailboats cost?

The value of a laser sailboat largely depends on the condition of the boat as well as the “extra” things that come along with it. Things like a roof rack, dinghy cover, foil carry bags, and spares all carry a value that is added to the price, as well as the general condition of the deck, hull, and sails.

See for more information.

How fast do laser sailboats go?

“Laser sailboat fastest recorded speed is 18.6 knots.”

The fastest recorded speed that we could find was 18.6 knots back in 2017 in Great Britain. You can read more about that record Laser speed here.

The previous record was in 2009 and was located in Honolulu, which pegged the Laser speed at 16.8 knots. Read more here.

How much does a laser sailboat weigh?

“Laser sailboat hull weight is 56.7 kg. or 125 lb.”

Laser sailboats are generally lightweight, making them easy to transport. The hull weight is 56.7 kg. or 125 lb. and can be lifted onto the car-top rack without a problem.

Its nominal weight including the deck fittings is equal to 59 kg or 130 lb.

How long is a laser dinghy?

“Laser sailboat length is 4.23m or 13ft 10.5in.”

All Lasers are fabricated to standard specifications controlled by the International Class Association. It is, therefore, a one-design class of sailboat with a hull measurement of 4.23 meters or 13 ft 10.5 in long, and its waterline length is equal to 3.81 meters or 12 ft 6 in. It has a beam of 1.42m / 4ft 8in.

Click here to check out more of the Laser Dinghy and Sail specs.

What to look for when buying a laser dinghy?

When buying a laser dinghy, you need to check lots of things. Of course, determining your budget is essential. You also need to familiarize yourself with the various controls and fittings on a laser dinghy. Ensure you know how to inspect the boat to confirm it’s in excellent condition. Make sure to check out this article which goes into a lot of detail:

Where to put tell tales on a laser sail?

Sailors have different ways of putting their tell tales on sails. Some sailors will put their tell tales just beneath the second batten pocket and another one under the first batten pocket, on the edge of the leech edge, within one foot from the mast pocket and a few feet up from the boom. You can read more about tell tales by visiting

Where to buy a laser sailboat

You can look in many different places. If you want a new boat, call the manufacturer. They most likely have one in your region. But if a second-hand boat is what you’re after, visit your local sailing club and ask for referrals. For more ideas, visit

Where are laser sailboats made?

The Laser was designed by Bruce Kirby and was introduced to the public in 1971. After launching at the New York Boat Show, it quickly established itself as the perfect one-design boat due to its simplicity and performance. Currently, manufacturers in the UK, Australia, Japan, and the USA manufacture it.

How to fold a laser sail?

There are two things to consider when folding a sail – how new the sail is and how much storage space there is for it.

There are a few different ways of folding a laser sail:

  1. Rolling the sail around a boom, pole, or tube – If you have plenty of space for storing and you like to preserve the sail in the best condition possible, then this is the best method to use. Instead of using your own boom (which has fittings attached to it and will crease the sail), you can use anything that is long and round but not too heavy or anything that is prone to rust. A good example is a PVC drainpipe.
  2. Concertina folding – This method is not recommended when your sails are new. It is also important to not fold the sail along the same lines every time because this will weaken the sail’s fibers and break.
  3. Folding the sail to its corners – This is the fold that you use when you are in a hurry or you want to vary your fold so that you do not fold along the same creases.

When is the Laser sailing season?

Most sailing clubs that race laser dinghies hold races in the warmer months, but this does vary depending on the club and where you live. During warmer months, there may be races every weekend. However, during the cooler months, races may be less frequent or racing may stop altogether until it warms up again.

Where is my nearest Laser sailing club?

Laser sailing clubs can either be part of a bigger yacht or sailing club or their own standalone club. If they are part of a bigger club, then they may have races dedicated to Lasers or races may be mixed in with dingies of different makes and sizes. Clubs can be found all over the place… all that is needed is a good-sized lake or body of water.

Where can you sail a Laser?

Because the Laser is so versatile, you can sail it in a wide variety of places. Any good-sized body of water may be ok for Laser sailing. Lasers are sailed on lakes, rivers, bays, dams, and also the ocean. If you are just starting out, one of the best places to sail a Laser is by going to your local yacht or sailing club. Most clubs will have a Laser fleet, and they will be more than willing to teach you how to sail. Another option is to ask around at your local marina, or even better if you live near a university, check out their sailing club. Most universities have a sailing club that will be more than willing to have you join and learn how to sail.

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  1. John Grassby on September 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Hi; I have just got a Laser – sail # 144522. But it is missing the lower mast. I am looking to buy one – but looking at the pictures of these I see that the goose-neck does not swivel horizontally. Is it possible that the boat has been designed so that the whole mast swivels in the hull hole??? Surely this would judder as it moved when under sail.
    Regards John

    • admin on September 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      Hi John.
      Thanks for your question.
      It is designed this way, and seems to work ok.
      Because the mast does swivel in the hole in the deck, it’s important to make sure that the mast base is free from any sand or dirt, so that it does not wear out the mast step or base of the mast.
      Hope you enjoy sailing your new laser 🙂

  2. Rohit on November 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Hi; I m confused to set my sail in water sometimes it work properly but sometimes in same condition not get feeling that were before

    • admin on December 5, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Hi Rohit.
      I would say that you just have a different setup.
      Getting the same setup does take a little practice. What you think might be the same may not be exactly, which can affect the feel and handling of your dinghy dramatically.
      Make sure you check out my sailing theory section to give you some of the background of the forces that are involved at different angles of sailing.
      This site is mainly aimed at those starting out, so if you are after more detailed responses, make sure you check out some of the great books going around. I have a list of my favorites here.

  3. Jeff on September 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I just picked up a laser from the original owner with a serial number of 062. The color is teal hull and white deck. Is there any collectible value?

    • Admin on September 30, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Hi Jeff
      #062 – Wow… I have never seen one that old.
      Not sure on the value on that one. Sorry.
      Some other readers may have a better idea.

      • Barclay Myers on August 7, 2017 at 11:48 pm

        Hi guys. I just read another article today that said the first commercially sold laser was serial number 100, everything before that was considered a prototype. Don’t know if that means it’s collectible but it certainly is a rare vintage

        • Admin on August 8, 2017 at 7:57 am

          Hi Barclay
          I’d agree that any Laser number below 100 would be rare. Wasn’t aware that they were considered a prototype though. Very interesting… thanks for sharing!

      • Steven D Cofer on March 26, 2019 at 10:14 am

        Unless the boat is in brand new condition, there is no collectible value. People still sail the old boats but they are prone to being heavier from water absorption through the hull to deck joints. Just sail it and enjoy it.

  4. Felipe on December 4, 2016 at 1:47 am

    If I order a laser pico from the LaserPerformance website how long does it take till it is ready to be picked up from the factory?

    • Admin on December 6, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Hi Felipe
      I think you are probably better off talking to the LaserPerformance people, as they may be able to help you.
      I have no affiliation with them.

  5. Amy on May 6, 2017 at 3:28 am

    I am taking my laser across country and have a pretty crisp racing sail. It’s too long to have in the car with us and I worry about damage if transported externally. How much damage will be done if the sail is folded for a few weeks?

    • Admin on May 7, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Hi Amy
      I know that many sailors fold their sails and are not too worried about damaging them, but care does have to be taken. ie. Don’t crease the sails (ie. by putting weight on the folds) and don’t fold through the window. Other Laser sailors prefer to roll them all the time around a tube (eg. PVC pipe) because they prefer their sails to be as crease-free as possible, and they believe that they perform better.
      To answer your question, I don’t think they should be damaged too much if you take care. Just do a very loose fold, and don’t put anything on top of the folded sail.
      That being said, if you are super worried, you can get rolled sail bags that may be able to protect a rolled sail from damage if transported externally (although I am not sure how well they work, as I have never used one), so you may want to check out this option.
      You could also box it up yourself and courier it over if you don’t have room in your car (I bought a windsurfing sail on the internet from the other side of the country, and it arrived fine doing it this way).
      Check out this post for other’s thoughts on rolling and folding.
      All the best.

    • Daniel on April 1, 2019 at 11:51 pm

      I Would recommend that you get a big PVC pipe and insert the rolled sail In it to transport externally.

  6. AK on May 30, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    I have just gotten a secondhand Laser dinghy which is 12 years old and I was just wondering how long do Lasers generally last if they are taken care of well.

    • Admin on June 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      hi AK
      Thanks for your question.
      It’s probably impossible to put an exact figure on it, but as long as they are well looked after, and also not had too much use (eg. hard, competitive racing), then a laser dinghy can last for years. If yours is 12 years old and been well looked after, it should still have plenty of life in it. There are plenty of laser dinghies going around racing every week that are more than 12 years old. Yours may not be as light, stiff or fast as the newer boats going, but if you are just starting out, it may be a great option to get you onto the water without spending a heap of money. Once you have improved your skills, you may be able to sell your 1st dinghy for (hopefully) not much less than you paid for it, and upgrade.
      Hope that helps a little

  7. Peter on May 27, 2020 at 2:39 am

    Hi I’ve been cleaning up a laser for my son’s to use the sail number is 13282 what’s the age of the boat

    • Admin on May 27, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Hi Peter
      I have not been able to find the exact ages of boats before 1977 (sail # 35265 – 42273).
      If you look at how many Laser dinghies were built after 1977, it is between approx. 7,000-16,000/year. So as a very rough guide, your dinghy may have been built 2-3 years beforehand.
      If anyone has laser dinghy numbers before 1977, please share them 🙂

  8. Martin Clarke on November 7, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    Hi, I used to have a 15′ Rothmans Father and Son and I am interested in getting back into sailing now that I am retired by the ocean. The Laser seems like an ideal craft for hopping around the islands along our coastline. What I wanted to know was do the lasers have scupper holes to clear the water after capsizing? The Rothmans had a sealed floor and large scupper holes in the stern which meant that it drained the water out very quickly and I used to capsize it on purpose for fun. Later I purchased a normal basic sailing dinghy but when it capsized it was full of water and sat under the water line, very dangerous.

    • Admin on November 7, 2022 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Martin
      The cockpit of the laser is not open at the back like many newer-style dinghies and skiffs. The cockpit is closed in but it does contain a self-bailer at the bottom of the cockpit that drains the water away. If you do capsize and get a lot of water into the cockpit, it will drain away but more slowly than some other dinghy designs.
      Click here to see a few images of the bailer system.

  9. Huw on September 4, 2023 at 8:52 pm

    Can anyone give me a tips to stop the main sheet catching on the stern when tacking or gybing

    • Admin on September 5, 2023 at 8:41 am

      Hello Huw
      Thank you for your question… it’s a pretty common problem with Laser sailors. In my experience, it’s more common during gybes. While different sailors might offer varying insights, the solution revolves around managing mainsheet tension during the gybing process.
      To prevent the mainsheet from catching on the stern, consider this technique: just before initiating the gybe, take in a bit of mainsheet to minimize slack around the stern corner. As the boom starts its movement across the boat, give the mainsheet a gentle tug (you can grab it between the boom block and the mainsheet block) to further reduce any remaining slack. This adjustment should help you avoid the sheet catching on the stern.
      If it is happening during tacking, then you may be letting out a little too much when you are going into the tack. Try releasing a little less.
      With practice, you’ll become more proficient at tacking and gybing swiftly, reducing the likelihood of encountering this issue.
      If anyone else has some extra tips, please share. Hope that helps.

  10. Qvlnr on April 30, 2024 at 9:01 pm

    Salut !
    Premièrement, j’apprécie beaucoup cette page là et toutes ses info, je veux déclarer par la suite que je n’ai pas trouvé une image, un article ou un vidéo qui parle des parties d’un Laser en Français.
    Encore, j’aimerai bien que tu expliques les différents manières d’exécuter un virement lors du manœuvre
    Merci d’avance

    • Brendan on May 1, 2024 at 8:00 am

      Hello, and thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, I don’t know French, so this website is only in English.
      I am not exactly sure what information you are after. However, here is some info on Tacking and Gybing that you might find helpful.
      Thanks again, and all the best.

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