Laser Radial or Sunfish for a Old Man

Thread starter #1
I am a 50 year old novice sailor. I have done some recreational Sunfish sailing on friends’ boats over the years, but I have not sailed much over the last 30 years.

I recently sailed a Sunfish on a lake in Louisiana, and that rekindled my interest in the sport.:)

I am trying to decide between purchasing a used Sunfish or a Laser Radial.:confused: I have read a lot on the forum about the two boats, and I cannot make a decision. I am 5’8” and weigh 135 pounds. So, the Radial is the best option on a Laser.

I am drawn to the Laser because it sounds like the boat is
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]more challenging and responsive than a Sunfish;
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]faster;
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]provides a better workout (I am in good shape and like to stay that way); and
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]more complicated and therefore more likely to keep one’s interest over a longer period
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]comes rigged for performance (hiking strap, adjustable gooseneck, etc.).

But is the Laser Radial more responsive, challenging etc.? The smaller sail depowers the Laser and makes it more comparable to a Sunfish on a performance basis.

I am drawn to the Sunfish because:

·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]it is easier to rig (I don’t know how to rig a Laser);
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]easier to sail and control (I don’t have a lot of experience);
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]less costly to buy (greater cost/benefit ratio especially if the Radial does not offer any more than the Sunfish);
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]less costly to maintain;
·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]it can be rigged for racing, and so I could grow into the boat.

None of the clubs around here have much of a fleet in dinghies, and so this is not a consideration. So, the likelihood is that I will be doing recreational sailing. What I am looking for is something that is challenging and will keep my interest, is not too much for a novice who will be learning on his own mostly by trial and error and books, does not require a lot of upkeep (I don’t have a lot of time to be refurbishing the boat and doing significant repairs) and within these strictures is cost effective.

I have not seen much on the forum about the upkeep and maintenance differences between the two boats. Are they about the same, the cost of replacing rigging and sails aside. I realize the Laser parts costs more.

I would appreciate feedback from experience sailors who have sailed the two boats?
hola. I am no expert but, I have sailed both (learned on a sunfish) and you are right for most of the feelings you expressed. SO my 2 cents are:

1- both boats are a lot of fun, the sunfish is more forgiving with those hard chines and kick up rudder
2- I find that the laser is a better performer, more exhilarating (I hope I spelled that ok) and a true joy to sail...even if I suck at it.
3- you need to sail "what they have" to enjoy your boat with others and learn so it pays to find out with your local clubs and class people for both laser and sunfish what kind of sailing activities they regularly have, you would be surprise of all the things going on that you do not know about because you are out of the loop
4- there is a large laser masters bunch all over

I am 51, 178pds, 5'10" and I sail a full rig me up but I truly love sailing that boat!!

Best of luck


ps go to the laser class north america web page and check out the fleets in your area.
Thread starter #3
Thanks, Antonin. :)

Your answers were very helpful.

Since my email, I was able to get in contact with Ellen Burke, the SW Coordinator for Sunfish. She put me in touch with some Sunfish sailors in Louisiana, and I am learning more about group sailing opportunities all the time. I have a lead on a racing rigged boat here in the State, but nothing definite yet.

I would love to try out a Laser one day too!

Jim Slatten
CajinSailin down in Bayou Country
I'm 49, and for what it's worth, I've sailed both, and I pick the Sunfish. I find that it is easier to sail, and in light air can beat a full rigged Laser. I find the Laser too temperamental and hard to control, at least for my age and skill level.

When you are near the point of capsize, the Sunfish has a definite point that beyond which, you will capsize. You can actually feel when the boat is approaching that limit, and act accordingly. For the Laser, it is more like a continuum, where it rolls past the point of no return without you even being aware of it, and the next thing you know, you're in the water. I also find it harder to right a capsized Laser. If you don't do it just right, it will just roll over again the other way.

All that being said, I have friends who are in their late 40's and early 50's, who wouldn't sail anything other than a Laser.
I am 66, 5'9" 190 lbs, and I just raced my Sunfish today on Lake Ontario in 3' seas and 20 mph winds. The course was a windward/leeward so each leg had a long run in cross seas. The Sunfish sailed well in these conditions whereas the Laser would have been death rolling all over the leeward legs. The Sunfish does have better manners off the wind.

Alan (I'm going to be sore tomorrow) Glos
Cazenovia, NY