New vs. used hulls? or importance of age of a hull?


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I am looking at replacing a very old boat and I am wondering if there is a point at which age (of the boat) makes a significant difference in performance? If so, why?


JimL :?:
If you didn't have too many crashs or the boat is leaking, the hull shouldn't be a major factor that will affect your ranking at a regatta. More important are boat handling, good strategy and tactics. I'm racing a 20 year old Laser and didn't have huge problems keeping up with other brand new boats.

But it's still worth checking the hull for any unevenness. It's also important that the mast step is not damaged.


When you replaced the flotation in your dads laser what did you use as
a replacement. What was the prosess that was used to perform this upgrade. We have an abandoned laser at the club that weighs about 200 lbs .....I would luv to make it light and fast again.

Also what do you look for when inspecting the mast step.

Thanx for any help. :)



well it all depends really. it isn't always the years necisarily but the biggest difference is the water intake. as we all know a dry hull is better then a leaky hull. so if you have an old yet dry hull, i don't see any point of replacing it. only live once so screw it and buy a brand spanking new laser.

PS please excuse my teenage ignoance


Another related question, how often does a full rig/radial sail need to be replaced to remain competitive? Do people buy them every 6 months, once a year, or every 2 years? Thanks. Also, I was stupid and didn't glue/tape the ends to my battens on, and they have caught in the pockets. Any tips on getting them out? Thanks


Regarding hulls, I don't go by age, I go by stiffness of the deck where you sit, and the stiffness of the bottom in the cockpit area. New boats have very little deflection in these areas, as the boat is used it becomes softer and softer in these areas. They reach a point where the core in the deck delaminates and the bottom develops stress cracks - not fast..... Goes without saying no leaks, good mast step etc....

Regarding sail life, it's highly dependant on breaking the sail in, amount of time spent luffing and amount of time spent in breeze. I've seen them last as little as two regattas (both hvy air with no break in) I don't think I would want to do more than 10 major hvy air regattas with the same sail. For sure there are varying opinions

i think you guys are too caught up in the frusterating battle with laminate cruising/racing sails that strech out all the time. this material isn't exactly light weight and although you may put on a ton of outhaul or cunningham, i dought they stretch much. but i guess if you wanna be really competitive...well then maybe yes each season. my point is that i don't want to spend $500 every ten breazy reggatas. in 5 years of that you'd of paid enough money in sails to buy a brand new laser pro.


Laser Floatation Replacement

Sorry, Ken,

I had missed this question regarding replacing the floatation in the hull.

Check out the "drLaser" FAQ item titled
"On legal Laser floatation"
at the URL

for what's legal and what's not, and the alternatives.

(My apologies here and now if I lead you to act illegally therein.)

> We have an abandoned laser at the club that
> weighs about 200 lbs

Judging from the weight, you have a hull older than #11494; one with foam floatation blocks.

The deck needs to have an inspection port cut into it to get the old floation out.Presuming this hull is OLD, all old hulls did have inspection ports to starboard of the daggerboard well. If no ports, you will need to cut one out.

The major problem will be to chip those foam blocks (or what remains of them) to pieces with a large chisel to get them out piece by piece from the inspection port and then cleaning the inside of the hull. A vacuum cleaner is ideal. A total back-breaking ordeal!

The hull should weight less than 140 lb when the old, water logged floatation blocks are replaced with the new floatation and the hull is dried over a week. [You can weigh her by balancing her on her rail on a batroom scale.] If she weights more (140+), the hull needs a significant period of drying first. Over this winter, in a heated garage, for instance. Ensuring a gentle flow of air circulation through the hull helps.

If the side decks and/or the cockpit floor have cracked, then delaminated, and endured core damage due to water freezing under the glass laminate, you will probably never be able to get the weight down to an ideal level (128-132 lb) without extensive repairs. So, check for such damage first if the final competitiveness of the hull is important. [Footnote: Such soft side decks and cockpit floors have NO impact on the competitiveness of a hull, other than any weight increase effects.]

Let me know (or consult you know where) if you have such damage.


Shevy Gunter
Ive just upgrade from a 27 year old boat to a almost 2 year old boat and I ve noticed some differences. For a start the mast step on the old boat was round, on the new boat its more of a oval shape. The positive floatation appears to be built into the deck leaving large open spaces in the boat which i think explains why it now makes so much noise while crashing along through waves. My old boat had a definate knuckle in the hull below the mast step, the new one has a very slight change of shape, you can only see it if your really looking. The new hull feels stiff, planes more readily and has a very narrow "groove" which can be hard to find. The old boat flexed more and scratched very easily it also, thinking back sailed more like a torpedo though it wasn't that overweight. I recommend upgrading if you can afford it, its very satisfying to occasionally mix it with the leaders in our class however once your sailing the same equipment you realise just how good they are. The good resale value on the Laser helps offset the costs too.
Inspection port locations

I have a '75 laser that needs to be bullet proofed and cleaned up. It is a bit over weight and I would like to strengthen the mast step & tube as per the good doctors instructions, but I am not sure where to install the inspection port(s) I will need. My main concern is weakening the structural integrity of the deck that spreads the load from the mast. So, how far from the mast and any edges should I be?

My other problem is that the bottom looks like it was dragged across a gravel pit. Far too many gouges and scraps to fill with the prescribed artists brush so I believe that the gelcoat needs to be sanded down almost through and re-coated (sprayed by a pro) and sanded smooth. Any thoughts?

PS decks and hull are solid as can be although there is some crazing from impacts and whatever. The history is that the boat was used as a trainer so I got it on the cheap last year. Still has the beautiful mahogany rudder and grab rails, all freshly varnished.


In relation to Darryn's post, where he notes he "just upgraded from a 27 year old boat to an almost 2 year old boat" and that he noticed "some differences":

> For a start the mast step on the old boat was round,
> on the new boat its more of a oval shape.

The mast step design on the Laser has never been altered since 1971. The shape has always been round at the bottom, oval at the deck level. If you had a boat that had a round mast step at the top, it was an ILLEGALly modified boat.

My guess is, you did not compare carefully.

> The positive floatation appears to be built into the deck
> leaving large open spaces in the boat

The positive floatation has always been built into the deck. The hull always had "large open spaces", except for the floatation devices.

Inside the hull, very old boats had foam blocks for floatation, and then for a brief period, air bags were used, and thereafter, "cubicontainers" (PVC bootles) are being used.

For details, see the drLaser FAQ (

If you now have a new boat that is "completely empty" inside the hull (shake the boat), you have an ILLEGAL boat. It is common. Some racers do take out the cubicontainers, hoping to make the hull just a bit lighter. VERY BAD IDEA.

> My old boat had a definate knuckle in the hull below
> the mast step, the new one has a very slight change of
> shape

Again, it's not because of a diffence in the hull moulds over time! It's just because of age. Your new boat will develop that bulge over time, too. (Prevent moisture in the hull, especially leaks through the mast step base.)


Shevy Gunter

PS. "ns sailor": Could you let me know who you are?

where axactly is this "bulge" you are talking about?? i have a 74 laser with no bulge. and for who said that the bottom of your boat looks like it was "dragged over a gravel pit" all you have to do is take a sharp edge (like a knife or razor), drag it through the crack to widen it, and fill it with epoxy. it isn't that hard and once it is done, sand it with like 600 grit untill it is smooth.


The bulge develops on the hull, right where the mast step tube bottom is attached to the hull.

If you don't see it on a 1974 boat, be proud of your boat!

But if you don't see it just because your hull finish (gelcoat) is all oxidized, chalky and dulled out...

...then, use two applications of "Fiberglass Rubbing compound", two applications of "Fiberglass Color Restorer", and finally one application of some "Fiberglass Polish" (NOT wax) right around the mast step area of the hull and look again. :(

If you like about the uniform dull look of your hull, do NOT do the above. It will take you two full days to polish all of that hull the same way!

With the area polished, you may notice the bulge when sighting from the aft of the upside-down boat towards the bow, kneeling down.

The bulge, if any, is in the shape of a 7" by 7" rectangle with a smaller diameter circular inner bulge inside it.

Shevy Gunter


inspection port placement

I saw a section in the back of a book called "Laser Sailing" by Dick Tillman that suggests placing the inspection port "approximately 30 centimeters away from the entrance for the mast", which I take to mean forward. This section also talks in detail about boring out and replacing the hard sealant that bonds the mast step to the plywood grommet that indirectly secures the mast step to the hull. I've done boatwork professionally, and this procedure should be cheap and easy enough. But filling in all the gouges in the hull and re-fairing is another matter. I have a 1980 Performance Sailcraft that I got with unsightly damage to the bow, among other things, that I re-glassed and shaped without concern for pigment in about 6 work hours. I currently launch from a shell filled beach, so I only wanted a cheap Laser that didn't leak. My point is that unless restoration is a hobby, or you have some special connection with the boat, complicated repairs to the hull may not be worth the time and cost. If you do decide to go ahead with the hull, shop around and get references on exactly who will be doing the work. I know from experience that many glasswork "professionals" don't have much training and, more importantly, aren't sailors themselves, but you will not be charged any less than for someone who cares about doing it right.

alright...i guess i'll share it with you. this is part of a letter i intend on sending to Vanguard in appreciation to their quality work.
A while ago around the start of this summer, my mom notified me that a friend she worked with at Beverly Hospital had an old and beaten up laser in her backyard that she was dying to get rid of. I jumped on this opportunity and within the next week we loaded the mud caked and distressed laser on top of my moms minivan. From then on it was just straight work and for me there was no looking back. After I cleaned off the boat, I found that she was a great project for me. She had a puncture on the port quarter and other gashes and wounds along the deck. I had very little time because within the month was my cities first every Mayors Cup. I was going to sail that boat no matter what. I managed to order a new radial sail to fit my 5.2ft and 90 lbs frame and I actually cut 2ft off the bottom section of the mast! So with duct tape covering the obvious spots, I set out into the Newburyport harbor with hopes high. I came in last every race but it didnt matter to me. I had a boat and thats all that counts. But when we pulled her out of the water, the man helping me chuckled and said Boy you have a lot of water in there. So I unscrewed the stern plug and twelve minutes later the nickel-sized stream coming out the stern of my boat had come to a trickle.
I pondered around and kicked the dirt because I was so frustrated to find that all my hard work was just a waste of my time. Luckily my dad who works for Seacoast Marine is a Vanguard dealer. So I begged and pleaded with him to buy me a new laser but he told me that I was now 13 and Should start to learn how to buy things for yourself with a little laugh at the end. I had quite a bit of money but certainly not enough so I decided to work with what I got. So I re-fiber glassed her holes and punctures, learning from people at the marina who offered their time, filled her chips with epoxy and with the help of my brother gave her hull a fresh coat of black paint and her deck a fresh coat of gray paint. We decided to name her Midnight Rambler after the handicapped winner of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

So as you can see, it doesn't take an artist to do glass work of a high degree. in all, i probobly spent 40 hours fibergalssing, sanding, painting, and polishing this boat. so i guess it has become a part of me and working on her is now my favorite hobby. as soon as i'm out of school i go right to the yatch yard. i know that if you have glass work to do you may tink of it as a hassel. but now i'm, so so so glad i did it. she could pass as an 85 boat and she really is a 74. so if you're as dedicated as i am, you'd do it for you, and your boat.
Alright, when it comes to new vs. old boats, the main concern is a dry hull. If the hull is dry, you're good to go with the hull. A new hull will offer marginal performance and will cost a lot. A far more effective use of your money would be to invest in new foils/ sails and re-gelcoating your hull. Doing the aforementioned things will increase the preformance of your boat far more effectively than buying a new hull.