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Is the Laser a good recreational boat?


New Member
Long time reader, first time post-er. I'm looking to get a small boat along the lines of a Laser for recreational sailing. I like getting out on the water early in the morning or at sunset just to putt around the Long Island Sound where I am. Would the Laser be a good recreational boat? I'm definitely not going to race, but I'd like something I could occasionally crank up.. I don't want something that is going to be dumping me all the time and I certainly don't want to have to be hiking way out the whole time.

What do you guys think? You all seem to know this boat better than anyone. I'm pretty good at sailing big boats and I'm sure I could adjust to something small. I just want something that will be relatively comfortable. It'd also be nice to be able to take someone else out on it as well once in a while. Oh, I should also mention that it needs to be cartoppable.

Thanks for all the help, maybe I'm chasing after a boat that doesn't exist.



New Member
laser is pretty perfect for what you want

not too roomy for a second person but its not a huge problem
A laser is perfect for what you are looking for there are approx 200 thousand of them and only a small portion of those are raced...the rest people just have fun with Enjoy


New Member
Thanks for all the replies. I'm about 165-170 and it blows 8-12 or less on the days that I would go out.

What about a Laser 2? Do they sail well with just the main?
Hello Alex,
The Laser is a wet boat. I think it is a great recreational boat and a ball to sail... But the learning curve with them will keep you swimming for a bit. Good thing for me is they are easy to reright. One thing they will do is get you in shape if you spend a decent amount of time on the water in them.....
But if your looking for a lazy dry cruiser boat that can comfortably seat two, look at something else. The Laser is a one design high performance Olympic class racing boat made for single handed sailing...
I don't want to discourage you... Just telling it like I see it... Good luck and I hope you join the ranks of Laser sailors, cause as ya can tell here Lasers rule!
Best regards,


New Member
For recreation, I am sailing a Pico (also a laser product) with a radial rig. The Pico is a only recreational boat about 12ft, very stable and in comparison with the laser there is more space so you can put in also another person (your kids, or your tiny girlfriend). You will definetely get wet, but since it is more stable than the laser you might be a bit more lazy (with hiking etc.). There is also a small gib but it doesn't serve a lot, helps a bit upwind.
the cartopping issue might be a problem as the hull weight about 60kg.


New Member
forget the swimming part, i sail LIS too and you will never have too much wind. Go with a laser there are doxens of them around here, i picked up 3 in a matter of 1 month, 2 for free and one for $300. I ended up giving away two hulls to friends and keeping the best. It is easy to find the hulls and then buying used rigging and sails for a crusing only laser is cheap. In the end I had a race ready (top 30 in the JSA LIS events of 100+ lasers) for under $1000. I can't think of any boat that is a better bargain and you will probably be spending less than that.

Actually if you do end up finding an old hull and need to put together rigging I still have some stuff I wouldn't race with but would give you for just cruising around. (Boom & Sail- if i can find the sail)


Upside down?
Staff member
Consider a Sunfish as well. Great for recreational sailing under all sorts of conditions (5-30 mph winds). Young or old, lightweight or 'up there'. Definitely less tippy than a Laser.


New Member
Thanks for sharing all of your opinions. I'll try and get out on a Laser in the next couple of weeks. I tried a Vanguard 15 the other day which I really liked and has the advantage of space but is harder and more time consuming to set up. My friend has a Radial so I'll see how that stacks up against a Sunfish, which is always an option.

How much should I spend on a Laser (if I choose one)? I've been tracking them on eBay and they seem to go for about $1200 or so.

Kevin, where are you in Larchmont? I grew up on Woodbine Ave. (same street as the LYC but towards the other dead end) and my parents still live there. I did a few thursday night races on Brava which is moored there.



New Member
Depending on where you launch from the V15 is easier to deal with than a Laser. Not that its difficult to rig a laser but if you have a dock space pulling off the deck cover and having everything rigged is appealling - thats how most of the V15 guys at Larchmont do it. Some are on dollys and have to go down the ramps to the dock, then it becomes a 2 person operation.

The laser goes from $600-3500 although if your just looking to cruise around I'd think about $1000 is a good estimate. The boats at the low end are usually needing something (Dolly, a spar, a rudder or centerboard) that will bring them up to around $1000 anyway. Itd be easier to just get a complete one for a little more.

I don't live in Larchmont anymore but I still sail from there, I'm usually around on Sat/Sun in the summer but not during the week.


New Member
It can depend on your health & age. If you don't expect either of these factors to be a problem, then go with it! My Dad's middle aged & now finds them uncomfortable. Until a few years ago both my parents used them as rec. boats. I even got to ride along with them before I was born, and then as a baby, and a toddler! They cartop great on our suburban, too.


New Member
It's a lot of fun if you want something that an adult can sail and go fast on.

I find a Laser too small for two adults for any length of time

" I'm pretty good at sailing big boats" ... I found sailing a keelboat and sailing something like a Laser to be very different, don't assume it will come naturally ... plan to spend some time getting used to it.

Like everything that planes, they are a lot more fun in sheltered areas without a lot of waves or wake. The Sound is flat sometimes, not so flat other times.

fishingmickey had it right ... "if your looking for a lazy dry cruiser boat that can comfortably seat two, look at something else. The Laser is a one design high performance Olympic class racing boat made for single handed sailing..."

I rented a Hunter 14 one day while traveling, though it needed a bigger sail something along those lines might be worth considering as you decide.


New Member
Hello Alex!

Well, you've certainly encouraged people to come forward with a lot of helpful and perceptive replies! (This is a nice forum, with nice folks....) Here are just a few items, to add to what the others have said:

1) First off, on which end of Long Island Sound will you be sailing? On the eastern end, where there's decent wind? Or on the "Dead Sea" western portion? The "8-12 knots" you mentioned sounds like you might be towards the middle, but the "...or less" part sounds western. :) If you're on the eastern end, the "The Laser is a wet boat..." comments will tend to apply more, whereas the "Forget the swimming part..." comments will hold more in the west.

2) Regarding sailing a Laser 2 on just the main: I just sold my Laser 2 this summer (great boat; regular crew moved away....). People do singlehand it for fun, and you can even work out a way to do so from the trapeze, but it's not ideal for the purpose. The boat doesn't balance or point that well without the jib (n.b., the rig's not even designed to be loaded up without it, so you might wind up having to reinforce the forestay), and there are sundry details (e.g., placement of the traveller & mainsheet blocks preclude use of a long singlehanding hiking stick; relatively narrow beam that makes trapezing often a necessity) that make singlehanding kind of a pain. Again, people do it (I used to take it around the harbor for fun after races), but it's not an ideal use for the boat.

3) Regarding Sunfish: I still have my Sunfish(!), I love it, and it's definitely an interesting option, but it's very much apples vs. oranges, if you're comparing it to a Laser:

a) As mentioned, the Sunfish is much, much more stable. It has hard chines and a low rig, so it's stable at the dock, forgiving of weight placement when daysailing (as opposed to when racing), and as the previous person mentioned, it works surprisingly well in heavy air (at 30 knots, it's still straightforward to handle, and we've had races in 35). With Lasers, you can't be "lazy" while sailing, as the boat will be distinctly unhappy if you don't immediately adjust your weight and sail trim to the immediate conditions, and in some of those conditions, "comfort" is not the word that comes to mind! These are beloved characteristics for Laser sailors -- they're what make the boat so "alive" and so rewarding to sail properly -- but the boat is more of a racer than a daysailer.

b) The flip side is performance. At 165-170 lbs and 8-12 knots, you're not going to plane in a Sunfish (well, maybe on a beam reach in 12 knots breeze, if you time a surf just right -- but for the most part you'll be in displacement mode....), and if your part of the Sound has very light air with a lot of motorboat chop, the Sunfish is going to pound its flat bow and drive you to distraction. In contrast, you can always keep a Laser moving, and in light air its responsiveness keeps the fun factor high.

Do you ride bicycles very much? If so, a Sunfish is like an entry-level Trek hybrid: something that's really versatile, not overly great at any one thing, but easy & fun to pull out of the garage at short notice and tool around the block or cruise to the local coffee shop with friends. Fun, friendly, puppy dog in personality, it gives you a great opportunity to soak in the outdoors. The Laser, by contrast, is more like a lightweight road bike with carbon fork, drop bars, and narrow saddle: much faster & more responsive, very comfortable and natural-feeling to those who have learned its ways, but in some ways a more serious creation that demands and rewards more serious dedication.

4) I'll concur with the person who says Lasers aren't great for taking friends out for a sail: you can do it, but it's kind of crowded, the weight of an extra person sucks the life out of the boat, and if your friend is a non-sailor, she/he might find things alarmingly tippy. It's weird, but it's actually easier taking friends out on a Sunfish -- the performance is lower to begin with, so the decline is less astounding, and the stability is such that after a while you stop thinking about sailing and more about having a pleasant conversation.

5) And finally, if you (and everybody else!) will forgive my going out on a limb, it sort of sounds, from what you've written thus far, that you might be looking for something a little different from a Laser (or from a Sunfish, for that matter). If so, and if you want to stay in the Vanguard family, you might want to take a look at the Pico, Zuma, and RS Feva (the Feva's distributed by Vanguard, but it's not on their website; you can read about it here: http://www.rssailing.com/fleets.asp?fleet=RSFeva ). Don't get me wrong -- the Laser's a wonderful boat, and we love it! But it's a lightweight road racing bike, and there are more versatile hybrids out there. :)

Have fun trying out all the different boats!


New Member
Whatever boat you choose, think about your ability to right it after capsize and, equally important, your ability to reboard it from the water. The laser is easy to right, and easier than most to reboard (at least, the first couple of times in one day.) There are definately times, though, when I would have preferred a more stable boat. There's something to be said for being able to enjoy sailing without the main concentration being on not capsizing. Especially for beginners.