Laser 1 possibly very early #39

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Re: Laser 1 possibly very early #39

Post by solentgal » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:17 am

Many years ago....around 1979...someone local to me had Laser #3111, which is the oldest I've seen in the UK, and I believe it may still be in the same ownership. There was another local one that was also in the 3000s around at the same time, and my friend owned one in the 8000s. I tried doing some research into this, and from memory I think that they didn't start exporting for a while, and I'm not sure whether they actually started with #1 anyway.
I know Lasers aren't an eligible boat on here, but I think we must recognise their value as such a good all rounder for family fun and racing. I have had many, and raced early on, and I still love them to be honest, even though I'm more interested in "proper" dinghies.

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Post by LASERTOURIST » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:30 pm

Well , the laser "not a proper dinghy" is arguable...though i think it is wrong

Some boats were considered as Planches à voile (boards with sails) in France long before Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake ever invented and patented the windsurf (and baron Bich fought and won the litigation about the windsurf patent by unearthing predecessors like Newman Darby and peter Chilvers) and long before the term Planche à voile was linked to the present day windsurf as we know it.

The very conservative and authoritative yachting writer Jean Merrien (who was the laughing stock of more innovative sailors from the 50's and 60's) called "planche à voile" the beach boats like the Sailfish , Sunfish and the like (the british copy was called the Beach comber, but there were dozens of others, sometimes derived from restricted moths) .

The Sailfish was indeed a surfboard at the beginning : Cortland Heyniger and his partner had applied for a specification for a Lifeguard surf rescue surfboard, had been turned down, and modified the 2 passenger rescue surfboard by adding a rudder, a CB case and a lateen sail from a Coleman sailing canoe....they sold it (in kit form or finished) , upgraded it giving it 2 feet more ading a tiny cockpit and remarketed it as the Sunfish and it went viral in the US (some say there were more sunfishes built than lasers).

As the Laser started in the US and appeared as an improved sunfish most "serious " sailors called it a beach toy or beach boat, and it could fill this role, even better than the sunfish did , as it was faster, more modern and all told sailed better than the sunfish.

But the Laser was better because it had been designed by men with a Dinghy background: Hans fogh and Paul Elvström for the sail and Bruce Kirby for the hull . The carefully shaped foils were a great improvement compared to most of the popular dinghies of the 60's using crudely cut wood (or worse, bendy plywood) rudders and centreboards.
A teardrop NACA section centreboard was a feature seen only on top end racing dinghies like the 505 and the FD back in the early 70's, completely unheard of for a cheap boat. The rig looked crude but it was made of good marine grade anodized aluminium and the sail was generally better designed and shaped than anything found on basic budget boats. The car 'toppable design was a bonus (though many boats had been designed for car-topping before) and the general quality of the GRP /FRP molding was good (for the first US 56 Kg boats, the irish made 59 Kg ones were not so good because of the rushed production scheme) . Airex foam for the deck and rolled deck lip for the gunnel were much better than anything seen before on sunfishes, 420's (those used the shoebox lid + wood strakes system to bond the deck and cockpit).

Superficially the Laser looked like a beach boat or "planche à voile" but at close examination it had many features from high performance dinghies (the hull shape was not very different from a FD) ....for a very affordable price (in the early 70's...nowdays it is a different story).
It was the "poor relation" in the dinghy family, the one some were reluctant invite to the family gatherings, but IMHO it had all claims tro "belong to the family".

Anyway, for old lasers the serial number is NOT under the bow fairelead: The old ones had stainless steel ruder fittings and the "Dymo" molded number is to be found under the top rudder fitting on the transom.
Another way of telling a really old laser is the collar and end caps fittings for the mast and boom (if the boat has retained it's original spars) : On the early boats they ware Lathe-turned out of a plain white hard nylon billet, before the boat success permitted Performance Sailcraft to have them made with a purpose built mould.

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Re: Laser 1 possibly very early #39

Post by solentgal » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:00 pm

Yes, indeed, I knew quite a lot of what you mention there, and my comment re "proper dinghy" was more aimed at drawing a line between what is, and what is not, a CVRDA eligible boat. My personal view is that a Laser IS a proper dinghy, and certainly not one of the sailing surfboards such as the Seabat/Beachcomber/Piccolo etc style boats. I would probably have another one, if I could be bothered to transport and rig each time I sail, but these days I sail off a mooring (dinghies and a pocket cruiser) as I just don't have the energy for all the work involved in trailing, and I'm not a "club person" unfortunately.

Now I'd better shut up about Lasers .......just wish I was still young/fit enough for a Moth again :(

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Re: Laser 1 possibly very early #39

Post by davidh » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:55 pm

Well said Sami......

This whole "the Laser is the floating spawn of the devil" approach ignores so much of the good that the boat brought to the sport! I raced one the season before last (only borrowed for the day) and had a hoot.....even allowing for the failings in the set up of the boat they're a cracker.

Incidentally, harking back to the reference about the family resemblance with the Contender, that is hardly a surprise! Once the IYRU granted International status to the Contender in November 1968, a launch committee was formed for the class - Al Santos, Hubert Raudaschl, Jack Knights and Bruce Kirby. I've a picture of Bruce stood alongside the prototype Contender, looking very thoughtful.

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Michael Brigg
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Re: Laser 1 possibly very early #39

Post by Michael Brigg » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:02 am

I confess I've already had my say on this...

Michael Brigg

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