First Boat: Sunfish vs. Laser

Better 1st Boat?

  • Sunfish

    Votes: 4 50.0%
  • Laser

    Votes: 4 50.0%

  • Total voters
Thread starter #1
As the title says. In college in Oregon and wanting to spend $300 or less on a boat for the summer. Plenty of sunfish and lasers for this price on CL out here. Nothing fancy, just something fun. Used to sail awhile back at summer camp growing up on Sunfish, Americans, Vanguards, Hunters, Classic Snipes etc. but I've lost most of that knowledge. Not looking to race, just take to the lake on the weekends with a lady or one of my buddies.

Leaning towards the Sunfish (already know to stay away from Pearson years, been doing some basic research), as I don't have experience with lasers and I like the design/smaller form of the Sunny. What should I get and why? Thanks in advance.


Just sailing
For the type of sailing you plan to do and being on a budget, a Sunfish may be best. Still, I doubt you will find much of a boat for $300.


Upside down?
Staff member
I agree with torrid. If you find a decent (!) Sunfish for less than $500, count yourself lucky.

You can learn to sail on a Laser or on a Sunfish, but a Sunfish is more forgiving, and usually cheaper.

And if your ladyfriend hates getting wet, a Sunfish would be a better choice since you are less likely to (both) end up in the drink.
Both have their pluses and minuses. Sunfish is faster to rig, more forgiving dragging on the beach, more stable downwind and lets you rig the sail up high so getting knocked on the head is not a problem. Laser has bigger cockpit ( minus with a lady/plus with buddies :)) , feels better sailing upwind in waves.
We used to sail Lasers about 30 years ago and loved them!! Very capable boats, but a bit performance oriented and less forgiving as a Sunfish. IF you could find a laser for under $800, drive it to Michigan and you'll get a quick $1,500 for it. They are legendary and very hard to find around here. It's very rare that CL lists one.


Upside down?
Staff member
Yes, that is a nice write-up. Tillerman's blog is my favorite!

My only comment is that reason #9 doesn't apply anymore.
Whereas it's true that a few years ago just about anybody could participate in the Sunfish Worlds (with 100 boats on the line), the current format is considerably more strict. Only 72 boats on the line and you REALLY need to qualify (if you are a US sailor). Unless somebody drops out at the last moment and you are allowed to fill that spot.
I started in a sunny and moved to a Laser, cause honestly. Sunfish can get boring. If your fit and ready for a workout then get a Laser. If not, start with a Sunfish. I have not been sailing for about a decade. I'm getting my children in to a Sunfish on a local lake (2,3,4). But I'm just waiting to get in to something a little more performance oriented. I love the splash and wind and calf pain for days, hopefully I can still handle it.

But $300? I sold my 94' Laser with a hole in the side for a grand a couple years ago, giving the rigging and all else was excellent.