Q. for USA-based Laser sailors: what's USA's best area for (Laser) sailing?


Active Member
Thread starter #1
One of my son's former teammates, is considering a study at a US university after his high school graduation here in Holland, next May. Apart from the 'regular' student-to-be questions, there's also the question as mentioned in the title: what's the best area for Laser sailing? West Coast, East Coast etc. Especially during the winter period. His choice of university will partly depend on that as well. (Knowing him and his family, I'm pretty sure that his own boat will be shipped to his future location).

I told him that I would drop the question on his behalf since he's not a member here. Added to that: I'm pretty curious about the suggestions as well!

When you spot a Laser with 'NED' in the sail somewhere on US waters next year, you can be sure that it's related to this thread!

Thanks in advance!



Active Member
You/he may already know it, but sailing is a collegiate sport in the United States, and quite a few universities/colleges take it quite seriously, with good coaching and training. The racing itself is traditionally short-course racing with simple doublehanded dinghies owned by the organizing school. Check out ICSA | Inter-collegiate Sailing Association for more.

I think it would be best for the sailor in question (in addition to the academic criteria!) to apply to some of the better sailing universities/colleges, and choose one located where it's possible to train year-round (such as Florida or California). Bringing one's own Laser from the Netherlands makes zero sense, as there is plenty of good equipment available all over the USA.

It was a long time ago, but as a European who experienced that scene, I hope I can answer any more questions he might have.



Upside down?
Staff member
Good points have been made.
Generally speaking, when a US high-school sailor wants to continue to sail in college, the advice is to pick academics first and the sailing program second. I think that this recommendation would also apply to someone from abroad.
Also, as has been pointed out, collegiate sailing in the US is mostly in two-people boats (420, FJ, etc.). But collegiate sailing does include a single-handed championship which is sailed once a year in Lasers. It should be mentioned that these collegiate sailing programs are quite intensive. Practice every day and regattas on the weekends, with a lay-off during the winter and the summer. This may be a bit much for a (first year) foreign student who needs to adapt to collegiate life in the USA.
I will mention that several colleges with outstanding academic programs have good-to-excellent sailing programs. For instance, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Georgetown. There are others, but these schools jumped in my mind right now. But it's good to realize that the actual sailing for most of these schools is on rivers or lakes, in mostly light-to-medium winds.
As an aside, the currently best US guys in the Laser (Buckingham and Barnard) are both Georgetown University graduates, but did their high-school sailing in California.


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Thread starter #5
Harvard and MIT would be nice, but the chances of getting 'in' are very small. And indeed, the program is too demanding for a first-year student - and for other years as well. (I know this first hand; my wife went to Harvard).

One of my former sailing buddies (20+ yrs ago) used to work for NOAA near Boston and held a position as a professor at Duke University in Durham NC. One of the reasons to move from Boston to Durham was the climate and the chance of getting relatively close to the sailing water that's 'sail-able' for a larger part of the year than the waters near Boston.

Boston is a terrible idea. There is an active sailing program run from the MIT boat house, but they mainly sail 420's in the Charles River. Most of the year, the river is narrow, dirty and cold. I work within bicycling distance of there and I won't sail my Laser there.
Stick with the Southern half of the US if you want to sail Lasers in the Spring and Fall.


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Thread starter #9
My wife (Harvard) told me the same thing about the Boston area. Her comment: "...make sure he's south of Myrtle Beach, south of Jacksonville is even better!"

Rob B

Active Member
Inland lakes are terrible ideas as well. Only breeze is front related. Otherwise many have an annual average wind speed of under 5 knots.

Some areas like Texas are different though as the thermals from large bodies of water like the gulf can pull all the way up to Oklahoma!

BTW - In Charleston we sail year round and have a decent Laser fleet including one with NED on it already, (although it doesn't get out much these days).