- About the Laser
- Videos for Laser Sailing
- Books for Laser Sailing
- Links for Laser Sailors
- The Vital Statistics
- Who's Who in Lasers
Note: the information on this page is for the Standard Rig. We'll be producing pages for the Radial, 4.7 and Rooster 8.1 rigs as soon as possible.
About the Laser
One of the most popular dinghies in the world, with over 200,000 boats worldwide, the Laser is a competitive one-design for one person. Simple to rig and easy to sail (though not to sail well) there are fleets all over the world, with plenty of competitve racing thanks to the tight class rules which mean that there are virtually no differences between equipment from one sailor to the next.
Designed by Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce, the hulls are constructed from GRP. They were designed to be car-top-able, and are easily transported on a roof-rack or road trailer. Their popularity, good performance and close racing led to them becoming an Olympic Class in 1996, an honour still held today. Many great sailors, past and present, have sailed within the class since it became popular in the 1970s.
The boat rewards good fitness, and can be challenging to sail, both upwind and downwind. It is also quick to plane, making it an exciting dinghy to sail.
The class also has Radial and 4.7 rigs for smaller sailors (as well as an unofficial 8.1 rig for bigger sailors), and is active through a range of age groups. There are championships for youth sailors, but also for 35 and over sailors - namely the Masters. With world championships for the 35 to 44 (Apprentice Master), 45 to 54 (Master), 55 to 64 Grand Master) and 65+ (Great Grand Master), this is a highly skilled and very competitive form of racing.
Videos for Laser Sailing
There are literally thousands of videos available, so this is just a selection of our favourites. If you are looking for particular skills to practice then click on our Categories page and choose the area you wish to improve. The chances are that there'll be a Laser video there.
Tom Slingsby, Olympic Gold medallist and America's Cup winner, has fun in a breeze:
The legendary Robert Scheidt (another Olympic Gold medallist) sailing upwind and downwind:
Paul Goodison, also an Olympic Gold medallist, shows how to rig the boat and be on the water in less than 10 minutes:
There are more hints and tips from Paul Goodison on YouTube here.
Ok, so we've had a lot of Olympic Gold medallists already, so we might as well get a few tips from Ben Ainslie as well. Here he is on starting:
There are lots more videos by Ben Ainslie here
Brendan Casey demonstrating and describing downwind sailing techniques:
Jon Emmett, author of Be Your Own Sailing Coach and multiple champion, demonstrates loads of key skills in the videos on his YouTube Channel
Books for Laser Sailing
Specific for Lasers
The Top 3
Paul Goodison's book is my favourite, being up-to-date and covering a lot of ground. Ben Ainslie's is, of course, well worth reading - the only draw back is some of the rigging information is slightly out of date. Tim Davison's book is a good all-rounder.
Other Great Class-Specific Books
I really love the Ben Tan book - Complete Introduction to Laser Racing because it covers so much ground and has a range of great comtributors. It's tough to get hold of it now, though, which is why it didn't make the Top 3. The Dick Tillman book is also an old favourite, but it is a little dated now, as is Glenn Bourke's famous and much loved classic.
General Books Useful for Laser Sailors
These three books will help any sailor improve in any class of boat.
You need to be physically fit to do well - even just a little bit of all-round fitness can improve your results a lot. These books are all helpful in designing a program that works for you. My favourite is Sailing Fitness & Training by Michael Blackburn.
Getting your head right can be as important as getting your technique right. These books will all help with this area, and the Eric Twiname book, Sail, Race and Win is possibly my all-time favourite book on how to improve your sailing
Books for Self-Coaching by Olympic Coach Jon Emmett
Jon Emmett coached Lijia Xu to an Olympic Gold Medal,and is a multiple World Champion himself. These well written books share the secrets of how to coach yourself and improve your sailing.
Sailing Technique and Performance Books by Frank Bethwaite
Frank Bethwaite is a bit of a legend - relentless in his pursuit to understand high performance race craft. His two bigger books (High Performance Sailing and Higher Performance Sailing) can be quite dense to read while Fast Handling Techniques is lighter and easier to read. All are hugely important.
...and finally, Three Absolute Classics
These three books are nailed-on classics - books that have helped generations of sailors and are still relevant today. Start to Win is a good, relatively basic book that will help get you to the front of the fleet; Winning in One Designs is widely regarded as essential reading for one-design sailors; and Advanced Racing Tactics is more in-depth, is a tougher read, but will help with a lot of in-race strategy.
Other Great Things for Laser Sailors
Links for Laser Sailors
Class Associations by country:
- The Australian Laser site
- The Irish Laser site
- The New Zealand Laser site
- The North American Laser site (and the District 11 North American site)
- The South African Laser site
- The UK Laser site
- The Andorran Laser site
- The Argentinian Laser site
- The Austrian Laser site
- The Belgian Laser site
- The Brazilian Laser site
- The Czech Republic Laser site
- The Danish Laser site
- The Dutch Laser site
- The Finnish Laser site
- The French Laser site
- The German Laser site
- The Hungarian Laser site
- The Indian Laser site
- The Italian Laser site
- The Mexican Laser site
- The Norwegian Laser site
- The Peruvian Laser site
- The Spanish Laser site
- The Swiss Laser site
- The Swedish Laser site
The ISAF microsite
Wikipedia page for the Laser
Boat Set-up, Boat Handling and Other Tips
- The Club Sailor website tips for Laser sailors
- I'm a big fan of these Words of Wisdom articles, written by race winners describing what they did to win. Useful stuff.
- SailLaser sailing school website
- A discussion on Laser "practice" sails on the Sailing World website
- Four good blog posts on choosing between a Laser Radial rig and a full rig - here and here and here and here
- A video for repairing the daggerboard and rudder
- A video with various ways of setting up a toe-strap adjustment system
- A video for repairing a broken self-bailer
- A video tip for marking the mainsheet to help with downwind sailing. They also have a video for rigging your mainsheet here.
- There are some useful tips for what to look for when buying a second-hand Laser on this page.
- A nice photo article on setting up the control lines properly.
Blogs and Blog Posts
Our favourite blogs:
Those are our favourite blogs, but there are loads more good ones out there. Here's a good selection in alphabetical order:
- 100 Races
- Apparent Wind blog
- Christine Neville's blog
- Earwigoagin has a lot of posts relating to Lasers and Laser sailing
- How to Sail the Laser blog
- Jon Emmett's blog
- Laser 200380
- Laser Sailing Notes
- Laser Sailing Tips blog
- Laser Salience
- Laserista blog
- Paul Goodison's blog
- Marc Jacobi's blog
- Pavlos Kontides' blog
- Reaching Broadly
- Scott Young Sailing
The Vital Statistics
Suggested sailor weight range: 75kg-90kg (ideal weight range is 78kg-83kg)
- Hull Material GRP (classic boats wood)
- Year Designed: 1969
- Hull Length 4.2 metres
- Beam 1.39 metres
- Mainsail Area 7.06 square metres
- Hull Weight 58.97 kg
Who's Who in Lasers
Bruce Kirby - designer
Robert Scheidt - Class legend and multiple world and Olympic champion. Check out the Videos section to see him in action.
Ben Ainslie - Former class Olympic Gold Medallist, four time sailing Olympic Gold medallist and America's Cup winner. Check out the Books section for his book, and the Videos section to see him in action.
Tom Slingsby - reigning Olympic Gold Medallist and America's Cup winner. Check out the Videos section to see him in action - it's well worth a look.
Michael Blackburn - Olympic medallist, Olympic coach, fitness guru and author of the wonderful Sailing Fitness and Training
Nick Thompson - reigning World Champion (2015 & 2016)
Our Blog Posts Featuring Lasers
- Why People don't Protest Each Other (and Why They Should)
- Trigger's Broom and My Ever Shrinking List of Sailing Excuses
- How to Fix Anything on Your Boat in Just 23 Steps
- How Laylines Can Improve Your Day
- Learning Not to Death Roll
- An Ode to Frostbiting
- Frostbiting is Good for the Soul
- Would George Clooney Improve His Sailing Quicker than You?
- One Coach, Two Capsizes and Three Lessons Learned