A cool video to understand why we love Laser! The athlete you see in the video is the aussie Jeremy O’Connell; discover more about him here.
The Laser is a class of single-handed, one-design sailing dinghies using a common hull design with three interchangeable rigs of different sail areas, appropriate to a given combination of wind strength and crew weight. Bruce Kirby designed the Laser in 1970 with an emphasis on simplicity and performance.
This boat is a widely produced class of dinghies. As of 2018, there were more than 215,000 boats worldwide. It is an international class with sailors in 120 countries, and an Olympic class since 1996. Its wide acceptance is attributable to its robust construction, simple rig and ease of sailing that offer competitive racing due to tight class association controls which eliminate differences in hull, sails, and equipment.
Other “Laser”-branded boats of related designs include the Laser 2 and Laser Pico.
The Laser is manufactured by different companies in different regions. They include LaserPerformance in Europe and the Americas, Performance Sailcraft Australia in Oceania, and Performance Sailcraft Japan in Asia. In 2019, the Laser’s status as an Olympic class was reviewed, and retained on the condition that the class complied with the Olympic equipment manufacturers (OEM) policy, allowing any suitably qualified manufacturer to supply boats and class equipment on a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) basis. The move would potentially see a significant increase in the number of Laser producers.
The boat design came about, starting in 1969, when Canadian industrial designer, Ian Bruce, asked Bruce Kirby to design a sailboat that could be carried on the roof of a car and become part of a line of outdoor gear to be sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company retail chain. Kirby entered his prototype in a promotional regatta of sailboats under $1,000 (US). After building a second prototype, and changing the name of the design from “Weekender” to “Laser”, Bruce and Kirby agreed to put the boat into production with Bruce manufacturing the craft and Kirby receiving royalties on each unit. As world-wide demand grew, they realized that regional licensing the manufacturing would deliver boats more economically than exporting them from Canada.