Laser or Pico for a family?

Thread starter #1
Looking to downsize from my Hobie 16 (sadly, just taking up too much space) as my wife and I start planning on a little one.
Trying to plan a next boat that is car-toppable so it will store more easily in our 1.5 car garage. I’ve loved sailing lasers in the past, but although I’ll be sailing it alone maybe 80% of the time, my wife and a future little one may like to come along some times. I’ve done 2 people in a laser before, but I understand they’re meant for 1. I’m ~190 lbs and my wife ~130?

Tips/thoughts? So far looking at: Laser, Laser Pico, Sunfish... The Pico sounds more “family friendly” but am I going to be bored on it as a more proficient sailer?
 

thieuster

Active Member
#2
A Pico is pretty versatile when it comes to sailing it singlehanded or doublehanded. What's more, you can carry it on the roof of your car. Perhaps it is a little dull - over here in Holland, the Pico is widely used by sailing schools. Says something about the characteristics of the boat I think. You can also turn to an RS Feva. Much more interesting and faster (with a gennaker or 'kite' as we call it). You can't put it on the roof, though. Well, at least most European cars are too small for that.

I must say that we (my wife and I) didn't sail much together when my kids where very small. Most cases it was 'singlehanded': one of us took care of the kid(s) when the other went sailing. In that case, a 'normal' Laser will suit you as well! For us, it turned into yachting at a later stage.
 
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Thread starter #3
A Pico is pretty versatile when it comes to sailing it singlehanded or doublehanded. What's more, you can carry it on the roof of your car. Perhaps it is a little dull - over here in Holland, the Pico is widely used by sailing schools. Says something about the characteristics of the boat I think. You can also turn to an RS Feva. Much more interesting and faster (with a gennaker or 'kite' as we call it). You can't put it on the roof, though. Well, at least most European cars are too small for that.

I must say that we (my wife and I) didn't sail much together when my kids where very small. Most cases it was 'singlehanded': one of us took care of the kid(s) when the other went sailing. In that case, a 'normal' Laser will suit you as well! For us, it turned into yachting at a later stage.
Thanks for the feedback! Appreciate the parenting/sailing experience.
My wife is still learning, which is why I have been leaning the Pico. I have no trouble on the laser, but she may struggle - especially in higher winds. I’ve just been worried about being bored on the Pico because I’ve heard it being described as a “toy” compared to the laser in forums.
We’ve also talked about getting the Pico for when the kids are small and daddy getting a laser later as dinghy #2. :)
 

thieuster

Active Member
#4
I see the 'learning -> Pico' connection and I think it's a good step. A Laser is not a boat for the beginner. The techniques used for sailing that boat correctly are beyond a novice' capabilities, I think. I think that a Pico is too 'dull' for an experienced sailor. Just like you mentioned. On the other hand: why not give it a chance.

Do you live close to the water? Often, you can buy a nice 20 ft yacht for the same money as a Pico or a Laser. Those small yachts are like floating camping! You can take the baby with you. There are ingenious solutions for safely storing a little on in a Maxi-Cosy that's connected to a contraption like a compass: always horizontal. Some of the smaller yachts have good sailing capacities as well! That's how we turned from a dinghy to a small wooden boat called 'Kolibri (20ft 1") onto larger boats. I'm sure that there are nice little yachts like that in your part of the world!

An example - not ours; ours dates from the pre-digital pics...

 
Thread starter #5
Getting a keelboat someday in the future is definitely a dream, but living in the Chicagoland area it’s a bit beyond our means when you also factor in mooring costs and maintenance - hence, why we are looking at dinghies.
 
#6
This is an interesting question and come up regularly on other sites. Here is my input.

Context: I've been in a similar position to the OP. We solved the car topping and storage issue with a Mirror Dinghy (probably none in the US) The Mirror is about 10ft long, it's a "sit in" dinghy with a Gunter rig, all spars stow in the boat and it is light enough to cartop easily. It will take 2 adults and two small children a picnic and the dog. They sail well. They can be motored and rowed. It is a great bit of industrial design. I still have mine 25 years on.

My club has a fleet of 6 Picos. They are little used by adults as they are too low, shallow and uncomfortable. Occasionally an adult will go out with a 6yr old or older. There is not enough room in one for a partner and small child.

We have 3 Fevas. These are designed for two younger teenagers and there is not enough room in them for a partner and small child. They sail badly when overloaded. The asymmetric spinnaker means they are dog slow dead down wind. They are grey as well...who wants a grey boat?

There are few options as far as Cartoppers go (don't bother with a Topper, far too small). You can cartop a Laser 2, they are available in the US but little room and there is no way my wife would have gone out in one with our first born as too fast, too wet and too unstable. Very little room as well.

It is very important that what ever boat you choose gives your partner confidence. She is the most important part of the equation. This confidence will turn into enjoyment which will be transferred to your child which will result in a partner and child who want to go sailing with you. I expect this is what you would like.

So here is my advice. Buy a second hand Hobie Tandem Island sailing Kayak. You are behind your partner who has your child safe and secure on her lap. They feel safe and secure because of the trimaran stability. Boat sails well enough to be exciting. They are Rotomoulds and will car top easily. They dismantle and will fit in your space.

Save the Laser/Pico for later when your child has built up confidence and enjoys sailing with you and likes falling in and getting wet.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#10
I sailed a Pico on a vacation about ten years ago. My recollection is nicely summarized by Riv:

My club has a fleet of 6 Picos. They are little used by adults as they are too low, shallow and uncomfortable. Occasionally an adult will go out with a 6yr old or older. There is not enough room in one for a partner and small child.
 
#11
I feel that colour is something that has gone from much of sailing. Lasers are now in Vela grey, sailors wear grey and black with occasional red. It's all so corporate. so homogenous, so very BMW or Audi. There are advantages economically in only producing one colour and apparently Vela grey is easy to repair, so I hope it keeps the costs down. but aren't these colours this more fun? 2014IntCanoeWorlds-18.jpg
 

thieuster

Active Member
#12
Wearing non-distinct colours has to do with the starting procedure... a sailor does not want to be recognised by the bright colours when he/she's close to the staring line :rolleyes:. You can imagine why!

Menno
 
#13
If you liked Laser I would go for Laser and not to worry about future. I am not sure how much are they in US, but in UK I got one ready for club/regional racing for 800 GBP. Probably first 2 years with baby sailing is not best option, especially your wife is still learning. I would go sail alone and spend time with family on other activities. Regarding keelboat, would you have space for 20 ft trailer sailer? I don't know though how much are they in your area.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#14
On a day with a nice breeze a Laser is not a good choice for double or triple handing ( the baby being the third.) as you know it gets very unstable offwind and can be a handful upwind.

You should try borrowing a Sunfish. It goes fast ( but not Laser-fast) in a breeze, is quite stable, and has (just) enough room for two plus baby. It’ll also be easy for your wife to get better on. But I’d borrow one first.

BTW how is an RS Aero for two? It’s wide open, but i don’t know how it sails compare to a Laser. It’s very light so easy to get around and your wife could help you cartop it, whereas a Laser and Sunfish can be at the high end of some women’s lifting ability.
 
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