Introduction – Specs and About The Laser Dinghy

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Introduction

The Laser Dinghy, a one-design racing sailboat, was designed by Bruce Kirby and unveiled to the public at the 1971 New York Boat Show. Since then 200,000+ Lasers have been built to date and are sailed across 140+ countries, with its popularity being primarily due to its simplicity and performance.

The original concept for the Laser centered on creating a boat that was easy to build, sail, and purchase, thereby making it accessible to a broad range of sailors. The Laser quickly gained popularity and became the boat of choice for many sailing schools and clubs worldwide. It also rapidly gained recognition as a racing boat and debuted as the single-handed open-class dinghy in the 1996 Olympic Games.

Racing is very competitive due to the one-design restrictions, which means sailors are truly able to test their ability, rather than rely on differences in hull shape, sails, and other gear to gain an advantage.

Besides being used for competition, the Laser is a popular choice for recreational sailing. You can spot these dinghies on lakes, rivers, and oceans worldwide. With its one-design nature, ease of use, and practicality, the Laser Dinghy is set to remain a popular sailboat for many years to come.

The Laser Dinghy – 3 Sailboats In 1

The Laser Dinghy - 3 sailboats in 1
The Laser Dinghy – 3 sailboats in 1

The laser dinghy comes in 3 rig sizes:

  • 4.7 / ILCA 4
  • Radial / ILCA 6, and
  • Full/Standard / ILCA 7 rig

This means that sailors of just about any ability or age can enter the sport, and advance with minimal cost.

Rigging is easy using a sleeved sail over a mast with no stays, and can be launched and sailed single-handedly with ease. Minimal parts mean minimal breakages and maintenance.

The Laser 4.7 / ILCA 4…

utilizes a smaller sail than the Standard rig (4.7m2 / 50.6 ft2 which is 33% smaller) and a shorter pre-bent lower mast section.  It is ideal for lighter sailors (up to 121lb / 55kg) and beginners.

The Laser Radial / ILCA 6…

uses a smaller sail than the Standard rig (5.76m2 / 62 ft2 which is 18% smaller) and a shorter more flexible lower mast section. It is suitable for sailors between about 121lb – 154lb / 55kg – 70kg. The Radial is the most popular class of Laser, as it is suitable for the largest amount of people, including youth, women, and masters. The radial sail can easily be identified by the sail cut in a radial pattern emanating out from the clew.

The Laser Standard / ILCA 7…

has a 7.06m2 / 76 ft2 sail, and is more suitable for sailors above about 143lb / 65kg. This rig is suited to heavier sailors in windy conditions where weight, strength, and fitness are critical.

Laser standard rig
Laser standard rig
Laser radial rig
Laser radial rig
Laser 4-7 rig
Laser 4-7 rig

Summary of Key Laser Dinghy Specifications

Hull Specs:

  • Length overall (LOA): 4.23m / 13ft 10.5in
  • Length waterline (LWL): 3.81m / 12ft 6in
  • Beam: 1.42m / 4ft 8in
  • Hull Weight: 57kg / 125lb

Laser Sail Area Specs:

Laser Standard / ILCA 7 Rig

  • Sail area: 7.06m2 / 76 ft2
  • Luff: 5.13m
  • Leech: 5.57m
  • Foot: 2.74m

Laser Radial / ILCA 6 Rig

  • Sail area: 5.76m2 / 62 ft2
  • Luff: 4.56m
  • Leech: 5.01m
  • Foot: 2.74m

Laser 4.7 / ILCA 4 Rig

  • Sail area: 4.70m2 / 50.6 ft2
  • Luff: 4.09m
  • Leech: 4.54m
  • Foot: 2.48m
Laser sail dimensions measurement guide

The International Laser Class Association

The International Laser Class Association (ILCA), a global organization with regional sites, governs the Laser class of sailboats. The organization is responsible for developing and enforcing the class rules, which ensure that all Laser boats are built to the same specifications and are eligible to compete in official Laser regattas. The Laser Class Association also organizes and oversees major regattas and championships, including the Laser World Championships and the Laser Masters World Championships.

Membership in the Laser Class Association is open to anyone who owns or sails a Laser boat. Members have access to a wide range of benefits, including access to official class materials and publications, as well as opportunities to compete in official Laser events. The Laser Class Association also offers support and guidance for sailors who are interested in organizing their own Laser regattas.

The Laser Class Association plays a vital role in promoting and supporting the Laser class of sailboats and is a great resource for anyone who is interested in Laser sailing.

The Laser Sailing Community

The Laser sailing community is a vibrant and passionate group of sailors who share a deep love for the sport. From beginners and avid enthusiasts to professional athletes, this global community is bound by a common bond – the thrill of sailing the Laser. As one of the most popular sailing classes worldwide, Laser sailors come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and age groups, united by their shared passion for the sport.

Laser sailing’s popularity extends across various regions, making it a truly international phenomenon. From the shores of Australia to the coasts of Europe, and the lakes of North America, the Laser class has a widespread following. Its appeal lies in the boat’s versatility, allowing sailors to compete in a wide range of sailing conditions, from challenging regattas to more relaxed lake racing. This popularity has fostered a thriving competitive racing circuit, attracting skilled sailors to local, national, and international events.

One of the most cherished aspects of the Laser sailing community is the camaraderie and sportsmanship among its members. Whether on the water competing fiercely during races or on shore sharing stories and experiences, Laser sailors exemplify a strong sense of friendship and mutual respect. Sailors often support and encourage each other, both in victory and defeat, creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for newcomers and seasoned sailors alike. The camaraderie extends beyond the racecourse, with events often turning into social gatherings where lifelong friendships are forged.

In the Laser sailing community, it’s not just about winning races; it’s about being part of a global family that shares a profound connection to the sea and the sport of sailing. The sense of unity and passion that emanates from this community is what makes Laser sailing not just a sport but, for many, a way of life. Whether you’re an aspiring sailor or a seasoned competitor, joining the Laser sailing community opens doors to an unforgettable journey filled with exciting challenges, lasting friendships, and the sheer joy of sailing.

The Appeal of Laser Sailing

Laser sailing offers a unique and attractive experience that captivates sailors of all levels. Its versatility, simplicity, and accessibility make it an ideal choice for both beginners dipping their toes into sailing and seasoned sailors seeking thrilling challenges on the water. The statement “It’s easy to learn but hard to master” describes it well and explains why it is so popular.

At the heart of Laser sailing’s appeal is the boat’s remarkable agility and responsiveness. The Laser’s lightweight hull and sensitive controls allow sailors to feel intimately connected with the water, empowering them to navigate with precision and grace. Whether cruising around or pushing the limits on a windy day, the Laser promises an exhilarating experience for all.

For those of us who are a bit more competitive, Laser sailing provides an unmatched thrill. The class’s popularity in local and global racing circuits opens up a world of exciting opportunities to test skills and compete against fellow enthusiasts. From local club races to prestigious international events, including the Olympics, the thrill of competitive Laser events creates an unforgettable sense of camaraderie and accomplishment that drives sailors to continually seek new challenges on the racecourse.

The Future of Laser Sailing

The Laser class continues to evolve with recent developments and potential future advancements. Technological innovations and advancements in materials are constantly being explored to enhance the boat’s performance while maintaining the strict one-design principle. As the class adapts to new challenges and opportunities, it remains committed to preserving the essence of Laser sailing – simplicity, accessibility, and competitive racing.

The Laser sailboat’s enduring popularity among sailors worldwide ensures that its future remains bright. With a strong and dedicated global community, the class continues to attract sailors of all ages and skill levels. The appeal of Laser sailing lies not only in its exciting on-water experiences but also in the lasting connections and friendships forged within the community.

As a class that thrives on inclusivity and camaraderie, Laser sailing’s relevance is poised to endure for generations to come. As new sailors discover the joy of Laser sailing and experienced sailors continue to push their boundaries, the future of Laser sailing remains a vibrant and promising one.

Conclusion

The Laser sailboat’s rich history, innovative design, and enduring popularity have solidified its place as one of the most beloved sailing classes worldwide. From its humble beginnings to becoming an Olympic icon, the Laser’s impact on the sailing world is profound, inspiring countless sailors to take to the waters and embrace the thrill of the sport. Its versatility, agility, and competitive edge make it a vessel of choice for sailors of all levels, from enthusiastic beginners to seasoned professionals.

As you dive deeper into the exciting world of Laser sailing, I invite you to explore further content on this website. Discover more about Laser sailing and the thriving global community that shares your passion. Whether you’re looking to purchase your first Laser dinghy, fine-tune your racing skills, or simply immerse yourself in the beauty of sailing, the Laser class promises a journey filled with excitement, camaraderie, and boundless possibilities. So, let’s celebrate the joy and passion of Laser sailing together.

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32 Comments

  1. Vincent on February 6, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Hi,

    I am switching my boat from sailing 470 to sailing a laser now. I intend to sail laser primarily to qualify for the Olympics.

    My question is if my height is good enough to sail laser standard. My height is 167 cm (5 ft, 6 inches) and weight is 68kgs.

    Thanks,
    Vincent

    • admin on March 22, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Vincent. Thanks for your question.
      I would say that at 167 cm and 68kgs, you would be at the lighter/shorter end of the scale for sailing a full rig laser. You may be able to put on some bulk before the next Olympics to handle it a bit easier.
      I think everyone has different opinions on what is the ideal weight for a laser. A lot depends on the conditions and your skill.
      Just for your info, I did some research on stats for Australia’s gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics Tom Slingsby. He was reported to be 83kg & 186cm at the time.
      Good luck with it, and all the best.
      Brendan

  2. Norman on February 20, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    My Grand daughter would like to switch froom sail Terra to Laser. What is the minimum height for the class

    • Admin on February 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Norman
      Thanks for your question.
      I’m not sure that there is a minimum height. It’s more about the weight. For a Laser 4.7, the ideal weight is around 110-130 lbs (50-58 kg). Any lighter and she may have trouble keeping it flat in a breeze.
      cheers
      Brendan

  3. Giles on November 1, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Hi,
    I am looking to buy a laser and am 5ft 10 (178cm) and around 68kg, I sail in a harbour so short chop is the worst condition, do you think I’m big enough for a standard?

    • Admin on November 1, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Hi Giles
      I don’t think it’s as much about the height as it is the weight. At 68kg, you might be a little on the light side for a full rig. But it depends on how windy it tends to get also. If it’s generally pretty windy, you might struggle, but if it’s often fairly light, you may be ok.
      This thread has a good discussion on the ideal weight for laser standard sailor.
      Hope that helps.
      Brendan

  4. Pete on April 24, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Hi
    My sea scout troop has taken possession of a Laser 2. It lacks a suit of sails and a rudder. talking to others, no one is sure if the rudders are identical to Laser 1’s. Can you advise?

    • Admin on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Pete
      Thanks for your question.
      I am not very familiar with the Laser 2, so did some research. However, it was very hard to come up with information on the Laser 2 specs.
      From what I could tell, the rudders are different between the Laser & Laser 2, however, I was not able to find the actual specs on the Laser 2 rudder.
      For a measurement diagram for the Laser rudder, click here (click on the “Mast Top Section, Boom and Foils” tab).
      For an image of the Laser II rudder, check this out.
      As you can see, it looks slightly different to that of the standard Laser rudder.
      Sorry I can’t be of more help than that. Maybe some other readers can provide some more info.
      cheers
      Brendan

  5. Alessandro Bassi on October 29, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Hello,
    I am 6 feet tall and weigh 53 pounds, what laser whould be good for me?

    • Admin on October 30, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Hi Alessandro
      Thanks for your question. I hope you mean 153lb, and not 53lb!!
      Opinions vary, and it depends on your fitness and ability. If you are just starting out, you may be best suited to a Radial Laser, but you are in the overlap zone between the Radial and Full rigs. So it depends a lot on your experience and fitness.
      It can also depend on where you live. If it tends to be quite windy on a regular basis, then you may opt for a smaller rig. Conversely, if it’s often quieter on the water, then a bigger rig may help.
      I’m a few lb/kg heavier than you, and I have a full-size / standard Laser rig. I find it’s great for the lighter days, but can be a bit overpowered on the heavier days. I don’t mind though, as it just makes it more exciting when you go around the top mark.
      cheers
      Brendan

  6. Kaleb Buckland on January 24, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Hi I’ve just brought a laser with a radial sail but a Standard mast. I was gonna make a Radial mast out of the right alloy tube but I need the measurements. Would anyone know what is The length of a radial mast?

    Thanks
    Kaleb

    • Admin on January 25, 2020 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Kaleb
      Here are the measurements for the different Laser masts for each of the top and bottom sections.
      cheers

  7. Cliff Milner on August 9, 2021 at 10:43 am

    How tall is the mast on the “std” Laser? I had one once and it was fun getting it into the hole on the hull!
    Cliff

    • Admin on August 9, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Cliff
      Yes, it can take a bit of getting used to, when putting the mast into the mast step.
      Looking at this site, the total laser mast length should be approx.:
      – top section (including top plug) = 3600 – 305 = 3295mm
      – bottom section (including base plug) = 2865mm
      Overall laser standard mast length = 6160mm / 20.2 ft (approx.)
      Hope that helps!

  8. D on August 23, 2021 at 5:39 am

    Hi,
    I am 155 cm tall and weigh 49 kg. Am I suitable for sailing a laser 4.7 or should I sail a 420?

    • Admin on August 23, 2021 at 7:57 am

      Hi D
      I’m not an expert with the 420. For a laser 4.7, I think you would be a bit on the light side, but it also depends on how fit, strong, and experienced in sailing you are. It may also depend, to some extent, on where you live (some places are windier than others)… if you have a strong sea breeze every afternoon, then this may be too much.

  9. Defne on June 3, 2022 at 10:27 pm

    Hi,
    I’m a fairly experienced optimist sailor and I need to change my class due to my age. I am 157 cm tall and I weigh 46 kg. Would I be able sail a laser 4.7? The place I live can get very windy at times.
    Thank you

    • Admin on June 6, 2022 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Defne
      I think a 4.7 should be ok, but it would depend on your experience and level of fitness. Since you say that you are a fairly experienced optimist sailor, then that will definitely help. You might struggle a bit on the windy days though.
      If you can, ask around your local club and try to take a 4.7 out for a spin. Let us know how you go!
      All the best.

  10. Noah Baker on August 7, 2022 at 11:13 pm

    Hi I sail optimists and are looking into a laser as the next boat. I weigh 122 pounds and was wondering if I should get a radial or a 4.7 rig

    • Admin on August 8, 2022 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Noah
      Your situation is similar to the previous comment in June, so not sure if you saw that.
      It depends on a few things… including how experienced you are, how fit and strong you are, and what the typical conditions are like where you sail.
      At your current weight, you’re probably at the lower end of the ideal weight range for a radial. But if you are young and still growing, you might want to get the radial and grow into it over the next year or so. But you might struggle a bit at 1st on the windy days.
      See if you can take one of each out for a spin and give it a test for yourself.
      Best of luck with it!

  11. Russ on October 9, 2022 at 11:02 am

    Hello I have a Laser Radial sail with a “33” number above the boat sumber.
    the boat number is 177137 so its not an abbreviation of that …
    do you know what the 33 means? Thanks!

    • Admin on October 11, 2022 at 8:52 am

      Hi Russ
      I’m not sure what the “33” about the boat number would refer to. Maybe some other readers may be able to help?
      Sorry I can’t help more than that. All the best with it.

  12. Alexander Rohlf on January 26, 2023 at 2:51 am

    Hi.
    I am currently building an El Toro dinghy. I do not want to have to handle the full 14 foot one-piece mast. I read somewhere that you can retrofit a laser 4.7 mast and sail onto an El Toro hull. A Sabot boom is marginally cheaper than a laser 4.7 one, and I was wondering if a laser 4.7 mainsail would fit a sabot boom.
    Thanks!

    • Admin on January 26, 2023 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Alexander
      I am not an expert on sabots, but from my research…
      The Laser 4.7 sail has a foot of 2.48m / 8.1ft.
      The sabot sail has a foot of 7ft and a boom of 7′ 3″.
      So the sabot boom looks too short for a Laser 4.7 sail.

  13. Steve Housser on July 13, 2023 at 3:17 am

    Can anyone please tell me in what year Laser #66750 would have been made?

    • Admin on July 13, 2023 at 2:59 pm

      Hello Steve
      According to research that I had done previously, it looks like sail number 66750 would have been made in 1979. See this link for more info.
      cheers
      Brendan

  14. Doug Arnold on July 13, 2023 at 8:59 pm

    Hi,
    I have sailed Sunfish sailboats, and years ago I crewed for a friend on his J24 in PHRF races. I love the idea of excitement when I sail, but I would also like to be able I sail with a passenger. Can a Laser be sailed with a passenger for entertainment? I did not see anything about the maximum capacity of the hull.
    Doug

    • Admin on July 14, 2023 at 12:24 pm

      Hello Doug
      A Laser sailing dinghy is designed as a single-handed boat, meaning it is typically meant to be sailed by one person. However, it is possible to sail a Laser dinghy with two people, although it may not be the most efficient or optimal way to use the boat.
      It is only a small dinghy, so the extra weight will affect the performance. There is not much room in the cockpit for 1 person, so for 2 people, it will be even more cramped.
      If you just want to go out and have some fun (and you and your passenger aren’t too big), then you can probably do that. But there are many other dinghies available that are specifically designed for two-person sailing that would be a better option.

  15. James on July 23, 2023 at 11:57 pm

    Hello,
    I am looking for the width of the bottom part of the mast, to design a fitting for a wind indicator. Although I have looked through many sites (including the ones linked in the comments), I can’t find the specific measurements.
    James

    • Admin on July 24, 2023 at 10:31 am

      Hello James
      The Laser mast diameter is approx. 2.5″ or 64mm.

  16. Brian on August 29, 2023 at 12:02 am

    I holiday in Finland and have just been given a laser to use but I need a hand trolley to get it over the stones on the shore. When I had a laser before many years ago, I had a light hand trolley made with plastic tubing. Do you or anyone else have a model on how to make one? I have wheels

    • Admin on August 29, 2023 at 6:23 am

      Hello Brian
      I do not have any plans or instructions, but there are a few forums that discuss how to make a homemade dolly. Check out some examples here and here.
      Otherwise, there are new dollies for sale. Have a look at this page for more info.
      cheers

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