Racing Question - Sunfish vs Laser

Thread starter #1
I've got a question for you racers out there. Today I had the opportunity to race against a bunch of Lasers. While I was getting hammered for 4 races, I noticed a few differences in the way the boats respond, and I'm wondering if anyone had experienced the same things, or if I've identified some new flaw in my sailing skills.

I found that almost universally, Lasers can point 5-10 degrees higher into the wind than I can on my Sunfish. This makes it nearly impossible to keep up with them on an upwind leg. On reaches and runs I've found that I'm actually slightly faster than many of the Lasers out there, but my upwind performance against them was so terribly bad that I couldn't make up the deficit.

Has anyone else seen things like this. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#2
Yes, Lasers point higher. Lasers are unquestionably faster than Sunfish except in drifters or if it blowing about 25 (when it is blowing 25 good Laser sailors are still going faster than a Sunfish can go, but most Laser sailors are not physical enough and a Sunfish will go faster than they can sail their Laser.)
 
#3
Beldar speaks the truth! Based on Portsmouth Handicap estimates the Laser should finish well ahead (roughly 8% faster) in a one-on-one race so you can't judge how well you're doing unless you keep your times and estimate corrected times. Both Sunfish and Lasers are raced extensively and so a lot also depends on the quality of the sailors you are facing, too. I've sailed both Lasers and Sunfish and now that I'm at the upper end of middle-age, I really appreciate the relative comfort and ease of the Sunfish. I find it a much better "beach boat" for sailing in a wide range of conditions. A Laser at 15 knots is work...a Sunfish is fun!
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#4
These three posts reflect my experiences as well. Moreover, in (really) high winds less experienced Laserites will flip (usually on the downwind leg), which isn't fast...
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#9
A super Sunfish is slower than a Laser If you can find it's portsmouth number you will be able to get an idea of how much slower
Portsmouth numbers (2010)
Super Sunfish 100.7
Sunfish 99.6
Laser 90.1

Hence, an up-to-date Sunfish is rated a tiny bit faster that a Super Sunfish.
 
#10
Oddly the Super Sunfish (Marconi rig) has less sail area than a regular (lateen) Sunfish sail - 65 sq. ft. vs 75 sq. ft. The Super Sunfish could easily handle more sail area, and I have wondered why they made the S.S. sail so small. I had a Super Sunfish for a year and enjoyed day sailing it. It pointed higher than the lateen sail but it always seemed a bit under powered in light to medium winds.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 
Thread starter #11
Based on a handicap pursuit race that I was in tonight, I saw a well sailed Sunfish soundly beat a bunch of Lasers, Day Sailers and Flying Scots. I also found out that a badly sailed Sunfish can't beat any of them.
 
Thread starter #13
10-12 mph, shifty north wind. The guy on the other Sunfish was over the finish line a half a leg before anyone else finished. Me (on the other Sunfish) and a bunch of Lasers took up the rear.
 
#14
Before I bought the Sunfish I raced a Laser. It was too physical for me. To make it plane upwind I was suppose to hike flat out parallel with the water. Yeah, right, when I was 20 years old. At 60 it ain't gonna happen. I do give up some speed due to my weight, 190lbs, but am trying different rig settings to help power up the boat. While 170 lbs is probably ideal, don't think I'll be dropping down there. I love the Fish, and I can compete in it. Cheers, Win ever
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#15
Before I bought the Sunfish I raced a Laser. It was too physical for me. To make it plane upwind I was suppose to hike flat out parallel with the water. Yeah, right, when I was 20 years old. At 60 it ain't gonna happen. I do give up some speed due to my weight, 190lbs, but am trying different rig settings to help power up the boat. While 170 lbs is probably ideal, don't think I'll be dropping down there. I love the Fish, and I can compete in it. Cheers, Win ever
Not even Paul Goodison (gold medal 2008 Olympics) or Tom Slingsby (current World champion) can make a Laser plane upwind....
But sailing the boat flat is crucial to upwind performance. Same for the Sunfish.
 
#16
I learned to sail on a Sunny and then graduated to a Laser at around 13-14, I just caught the tale end of them phasing out Sunfish is favor of bath tubs... So silly. Anywhom. Everything Beldar said I experienced.
There really is no excuse for a Laser being slower then a Sunfish; unless of course if it is filled with concrete or covered in sailors tape. I have always been a bigger guy and only when there was next to no wind would I be passed by some sunny's, but typically newer boats with skippers half my weight. I hope to one day get back in to a Laser (I'll be back in a Sunny this summer hopefully), but it is not for the weak. In heavy wind you typically need a crew to keep the boat even.
 
#17
Not even Paul Goodison (gold medal 2008 Olympics) or Tom Slingsby (current World champion) can make a Laser plane upwind....
But sailing the boat flat is crucial to upwind performance. Same for the Sunfish.
You can do it, its not easy

"To
really reinforce the point of sailing wider angles upwind in the
breeze my group and I practice planing upwind in flat water often now.
The key here is flat water. Again with the vang on quite hard you are
bearing off just enough to start planning. You will feel the boat
decrease in displacement, the bow/wave contact point will move to or
aft of the mast and the waves will start to make a hollow thump with
increased repetition under you hull. The first few times you do it are
quite remarkable. After that all you want to do is start to plane
closer and closer to the wind. There is one hitch though, you must
hike 120% all of the time. The second you let off on hiking you loose
the plane and have to start again.

The planing upwind drill has reinforced and brought on a new twist to
hiking hard upwind for us. I think everyone realizes that you can no
longer let the front of your sail luff or go light, you must be
sailing full and then ease the sheet from there.

The next time you are out in 15+ with 1ft or less of wave height, try
planning upwind. It is a lot of fun"-by Andrew Scrivan
 
Top