Laser Sailing at Woollahra Sailing Club

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Laser Sailing at WSC

Single-handed Club Class


The Laser is the single-handed option for sailors who are too big or too old to sail the Optimist. The Laser can be rigged with three different sail plans, providing great versatility across a wide range of sizes. Lasers are best suited to sailors 13 years of age or older, over 45kg, and focused on racing.

Lasers are one of the fastest growing one-design classes in Australia and the primary singlehanded boat used in youth sailing events. In 2008, the Laser Radial debuted as the Women’s singlehanded event at the Olympics.

Consequently, a number of young women are now sailing in the Radial. It is not atypical to see a significant number of female sailors at Laser Radial events.

Captain: Zac Skulander
Email: lasers@woollahrasailingclub.org.au

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Laser (dinghy) Wiki

The International Laser Class sailboat, also called Laser Standard and the Laser One is a popular one-design class of small sailing dinghy. According to the Laser Class Rules the boat may be sailed by either one or two people, though it is rarely sailed by two. The design, by Bruce Kirby, emphasizes simplicity and performance. The dinghy is manufactured by independent companies in different parts of the world, including LaserPerformance Europe (Americas and Europe), Performance Sailcraft Australia (Oceania) and Performance Sailcraft Japan.

The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed dinghies in the world. As of 2012, there are more than 200,000 boats worldwide. A commonly cited reason for its popularity is that it is robust and simple to rig and sail in addition to its durability. The Laser also provides very competitive racing due to the very tight class association controls which eliminate differences in hull, sails and equipment.

The term “Laser” is often used to refer to the Laser Standard (the largest of the sail plan rigs available for the Laser hull). However, there are two other sail plan rigs available for the Laser Standard hull and a series of other “Laser”-branded boats which are of completely different hull designs. Examples include the Laser 2 and Laser Pico. The Laser Standard, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 are three types of ‘Laser’ administered by the International Laser Class Association.

The laser’s hull is made out of GRP, Glass Reinforced Plastics. The deck has a foam layer underneath for strength

The boat’s history began with a phone call between Canadians Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce. While discussing the possibility of a car-topped dinghy (a boat small enough to be carried on a roof rack of a typical car) for a line of camping equipment, Bruce Kirby sketched what would be known as “the million dollar doodle”. The plans stayed with Kirby until 1970 when One Design and Offshore Yachtsman magazine held a regatta for boats under $1000, called “America’s Teacup”. After a few sail modifications, the Laser easily won its class.

The prototype was originally named the “Weekender”; the sail held the letters TGIF, a common American abbreviation for “Thank God it’s Friday”. In December 1970 Dave Balfour, a McGill engineering student, suggested the name Laser and contributed the Laser sail insignia.[1][2] The Laser sailboat was officially unveiled at the New York Boat Show in 1971. The first world championship was held in 1974 in Bermuda. Entrants came from 24 countries, and first place was won by Peter Commette from the United States.

The Laser became a men’s Olympic-class boat at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and a special Olympic edition of the boat was released that year in commemoration. A version with a smaller sail, the Laser Radial (see below), was first sailed as a women’s Olympic-class boat at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Arguably the greatest champion of the Laser Class is Robert Scheidt (nickname “El Demolidor”) from Brazil; he won the world championship eight times and won two gold and one silver Olympic medals.

The Laser is manufactured by different companies in different regions. They include LaserPerformance in Europe and the Americas, Performance Sailcraft Australia in Oceania and Performance Sailcraft.

As a one-design class of sailboat, all Lasers are built to the same specifications. The hull is 4.19 metres (13 ft 10.5 in) long, with a waterline length of 3.81 m (12.5 ft). The hull weight is 56.7 kg (130 lb), which makes the boat light enough to lift onto a car-top rack.

The various sizes of Laser are all cat-rigged; in they have only a main sail and no head sail. The Laser Standard sail has a sail area of 7.06 m² (76 ft²) and, especially in higher winds (15 knots and over), is most competitive when sailed by a very fit, agile, and muscular person weighing no less than 80 kg (175 lb).

The Laser uses a Portsmouth Yardstick of 1085 for racing involving other classes. The equivalent yardstick in North America is the D-PN, which is 91.1 for a Laser.

Laser sailing and racing presents a unique set of physical and skill based challenges. Fast Laser sailing requires an advanced level of fitness in order to endure the straight legged hiking and body-torque techniques essential in getting upwind and reaching quickly.

Since 1998 Laser sailing has increased to not only be physical upwind and reaching, but to also include far more demanding sailing and potential speed increases when sailing downwind. Traditionally sailing downwind has been considered processional in dinghy racing, simply being pushed downwind. But Laser sailors, including Ben Ainslie and Robert Scheidt significantly changed the techniques used to race a Laser downwind. The techniques these sailors introduced uses a much more dynamic sailing method, concentrating on surfing the waves going downwind. The sailors will weave their way downwind, constantly looking to either side for the next large wave they can “hop” onto and surf downwind. To maximise their speed, boats will often be sailed by the lee, where the boom and sail will be allowed to travel significantly forward of the mast.

This change in technique for downwind racing has changed most dinghy racing to be much more competitive on the downwind legs and resulted in a change of the international course shape from a traditional triangle to a trapezoid giving greater opportunity for increased upwind and straight downwind legs. In addition, downwind laser sailing can very easily result in a death roll where the boat rocks, flips and capsizes to windward.

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