Any comments on the differences between the sunfish and the laser? Is one more appropriate for a middle aged beginner tthan the other? As far as the used market in my area (fingerlakes NY,) so far there have been more lasers.
They are both great boats. I went therough this decision last year -- I wanted to start racing one design (after about 20 years away from sailing) -- I already own a sunfish, but ended up buying a laser, for reasons I'll explain below.
The sunfish is more "accessible" -- less physically demanding, fewer adjustments to make, fewer parts to rig and unrig. Practically anyone, even small kids, can jump on one and sail it. The laser is faster and more exciting to sail, more physically demanding, requires more adjustments, has more parts to rig and unrig, and smaller, lighter, less experienced sailors are going to be intimidated and/or physically overpowered.
The laser will probably teach you more about sailing, more quickly than the sunfish.
If you are interested in racing, the biggest factor in choosing what sort of boat you want to sail is the availability of local competition. It's fun to sail against lots of boats. It's boring to sail against the same 3 people every week, only to have a race cancelled if one or two fail to show up. It's fun to sail in a fleet where there are people at about your level, and also some quite a bit better than you.
So check around your area... if there are multiple good sized fleets in one boat but not in the other, then pick the one that has lots of local activity. In my case, this is the factor that got me to the laser.
I bought my Laser the year I turned 40. That was three years ago. Initially it was a challenge to learn how to sail it without always going over but once you learn the depowering techniques it is a blast to sail. I enjoy the radial rig in 15-20 mph winds. I weigh about 135-140 pounds. I haven't raced the Laser much but I do get together with a small but slowly growing group of sailors on Wednesday nights for informal racing. I bought a Sunfish and have been racing it since January of this year. There are a lot more Sunfish regattas in my area and I wanted to start getting racing experience. The Laser experience helped me a lot with racing the Sunfish. So if I were you I would choose the boat which there is more adult racing. In my case that is the Sunfish. Of course you can always get both the Sunfish and the Laser.