Pico vs Laser

Thread starter #1
Hello there,
I have been looking around the internet to try and find the boat best suited for me and so far have failed, this website kept popping up so i decided to ask.

I have been sailing Picos for a month now and a little bit before and i am really starting to enjoy sailing. I have decided to think about buying a small sailboat eg. laser or pico but cannot decide. I am a beginner in the sport and i feel that i will out grow a pico quite quickly but having sailed a laser once a few days ago i don't know whether i am ready for the power that lasers wield. I sail on a Lake/Reservoir and i do like going fast but there are times when i just want to cruse along gently, as i said earlier i am unsure whether i can control the power of a laser and don't particularly fancy capsizing every time i go out. I also realize that picos can be fitted with a jib, would this make a pico as fast as a laser making a pico upgradable? I just think that laser look loads more fun but am unsure of the practicalities. I also would like to ask if a boat that can be fitted with a jib or spinnaker would be more worthwhile as when i am bored of the speed of the mainsail alone i could go faster with a jib or spinnaker?

Sorry if I asked any stupid questions I'm new!
Hello and welcome to the forum George, I am also new to the boards.
I used to windsurf but wanted something more relaxing so I got a Laser...can't say it's all that relaxing yet but I'm having fun with it. I'm also sailing on a small lake with shifty and gusty at times winds and I can say that I've yet to capsize it but I've come close a few times.
Lasers have 3 different common sails from what I can find. The Standard which is the largest and the one I have, Radial and the 4.7 being the smallest. I believe the boom is interchangeable with all 3 rigs but you need a different lower mast section for each one.
I can't say anything about the Pico as I don't know it at all. I've sailed both the Sunfish and a Dyer before the Laser and honestly the Laser is a lot of fun. I haven't been sailing in about 10 years so I'm a bit rusty but I'd say if you got quick reactions and can dump the main and jump to windward you should be able to keep the cloth side up in most cases.
I'm sure some of the more experienced sailors will be able to answer some of your more technical questions.

And the only stupid questions are the ones you don"t ask :)

Thread starter #3
Thank you for the reply,
when i sailed a laser a few days ago i also nearly capsized it whilst trying to avoid a collision with a rowing boat (oops!):rolleyes: on that sail i was lucky not to capsize it as the winds were very strong. How much 'getting used to' do lasers take? is it advisable to take one out on a not so windy day just to get used to it. I used the standard in the laser a few days ago but how much difference does i make radial or standard?


Active Member
The Laser is an easy enough boat to sail as long as the winds are not too strong. Difficult to master though as the technique can be quite specific.

That said just reaching around in a laser in a blow is a lot of fun and can be mastered by a competent sailor pretty quickly.

If you are going to race expect it to take some time to get in and amongst the fleet (but do speak to others in the fleet and ask for their hints and tips and watch them when they sail).

Personally I would choose a Laser over a Pico every time.
The ideal weight for a standard rig sailor is around 190 lbs, I'm about 130 lol. Radial is more my range from what I have seen.
You do have right of way over the row boat and just about every other vessel with a couple of exceptions that you are not likely to find on a lake. I've only been sailing it a few times so far but it has gotten easier each time I've been out. I would say go out in less wind would make it easier as you won't be pushing your limits while trying to learn a new boat as well.
Thread starter #6
Looks like laser is the way to go! I am around 120-130lbs (can't remember last time I weighed myself) so I'm guessing radial would be best. How long would it take to be able to sail a laser very competently? Right now I only know the basics of sailing and could sail a pico solo happily with no problem.

Maybe I just had bad circumstances on my first laser sail it was very windy and I was trying to navigate through a minicat race! Is a laser as calm as a pico in low winds, I can happily push a pico close to its limits but that felt nothing like the laser it was very fast and I found myself letting the main sheet out lots of times to try and keep the speed down.

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Upside down?
Staff member
A fun part of sailing is that one keeps on learning, at least I do. Moreover, the Laser has this wonderful property of telling you very clearly when you make a serious mistake.

After I got my Laser it took me many (5-10) outings to get used to the boat. And it took me many more outings (10-20) to become somewhat competitive racing the boat at the club level in light to medium winds. We don't have many big breeze days (above 15 knots) where I sail, so that remains a problem for me.
But hey, an occasional swim clears the mind. ;)

PS: totally forget about the Pico! The latter is just a toy compared to a Laser.
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Thread starter #8
Well I think that's made my mind I will get a laser. You know what I think your right a little swim would tell me I have done something wrong. I hope to have loads of fun on it and thanks for your help guys!

You just cant go wrong with the laser. Look for a boat that has both standered and radial. You will have a solid goalmto work towards, the standard. If it blows go down to the radial. Learning to sail a laser competitively is a long learning curve that you can work on untill your 80, God willing and the creek dont rise
Thread starter #10
You just cant go wrong with the laser. Look for a boat that has both standered and radial. You will have a solid goalmto work towards, the standard. If it blows go down to the radial. Learning to sail a laser competitively is a long learning curve that you can work on untill your 80, God willing and the creek dont rise
Sorry, just a few more questions. Am i right in saying any laser can be fitted with a radial or standard? What makes the difference between standard and radial (what parts of the laser change and do i need to buy different parts to switch between each?) and what does goalmto mean?

Hopefully my last questions
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Standard, Radial and 4.7 all use the same top section of mast and boom. It's the lower section of the mast that needs to be bought for each sail.
The difference between them is the size of the sail other than that they all use the same running rigging.
I can't help you with the "goalmto" as I've never heard of it before.