Laser 470 Build

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by NA me, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. latestarter
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    Location: N.W. England

    latestarter Senior Member

    How right you are, the leaking oil kept the rust away and I had straight through megaphone "silencers" to mask the mechanical clatter. :D
  2. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    I certainly haven't talked obsolescence about Lasers - I've clearly predicted another 40 years of dominance.

    If you are looking for a critique however, the Laser is a miserable boat to hike from with it's little footwell, unrelieved square edges under your quads and calfs. It's vang sucked horrendously for the first thirty plus years, along with the outhaul attachment. The quality control on daggerboards has been spotty, and the foil shape could use work. The sheeting is designed to catch the traveller on the rear quarter while gybing, unless you intentionally flick the sheet mid-gybe to avoid it. The lower mast tube is easily deformed in heavy winds, as the untapered, straight tubing really isn't up to the job. The cockpit bailer problems are well known, as are the deck/hull leaking problems. Hulls soften quickly, making top 10% racers buy new hulls annually. Sails are good for only a few regattas in heavy wind, then have to be replaced. Mast sockets often fail.

    All that said, the Laser is magical and fun, if a little uncomfortable and expensive to campaign at high levels. Nothing else compares for fleets and competition.

    Given what you pay for official Laser parts, the pricing certainly allows for better quality, but the built-in monopoly opts for higher profit and lower quality - especially on sails. Rooster and other make better, faster, longer lasting sails for Lasers at lower prices - they just can't be raced. Unofficial non-authorized "training" sails can be had for much less than official sails - and they last longer, and keep shape better - but they will never measure in due to being made on the wrong table - not due to dimensions.

  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    All little dinghies can be talked about with glowing reference, particularly popular ones. The Laser is a very dated design, though still in high demand for several reasons, a poor hull shape by modern standards in any case. This doesn't mean you still can't have fun in it, just if you're going to design a new single dinghy, as I suspect the original poster was attempting, patterning after the Laser wouldn't be my first choice as a base line hull form.
  4. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member


    That being said, what hull shape(s) would be worth review if a new design was contemplated? Are there existing dinghy designs worth emulating or if not, what are the general features you feel worthy of incorporating?

    Length/width ratio?
    Weight - Reasonable target?
    Chines versus round bilge?
    Flat bottom?
    Fine versus bluff versus scow?
    Self bailing versus limited volume cockpit with bailers?
    Open transom versus enclosed?
    Seakeeping versus flat water?
    Rig - Cat versus sloop?
    Spinnaker - none, traditional versus asymmetrical?
    Hiking - wings (a la D-One), flared deck from narrow waterline (i.e. RS100), racks (Moth), none (Laser)?
    Materials - Cost versus build-ability? How low/high is the bar?
    Longevity - Balancing cost versus strength
    Practicality - Can it stand untended at a dock?

    I know this is a very open ended question, but your thoughts would be highly appreciated. Opinions are welcome!

  5. NA me
    Joined: Aug 2010
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    NA me Junior Member

    thinking about how versatile the ship hull design (being that it can be fitted for different sizes) while still maintaining the similar maneuvering methods says that it is a successful design.

    maybe not a superior one, as previous posts suggest.
    the after sale service, training, accessories, spare parts, repair, mods are very well done and wide spread.
    after all most it is a product in the end. so their demographic are very wide.

    unlike u guys who knows the in and outs of waterborne transports.
    i don't think they would mind the about technical inferiority of lasers.

    p/s u've seen the Open BIC site?
  6. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    Location: Sydney Australia

    CT 249 Senior Member

    Sorry, but that's simply factually incorrect.

    The fourth most popular boat in the UK (measured by national title attendance) is only about 8 years old.

    The 14th most popular (out of over 200 classes in Y & Y's list) is about 10 years old.

    The 15th most popular is about four years old.

    The RS 100, about a year old, has 40+ boats at national titles and is selling well.

    To say that new boats cannot succeed is simply incorrect, wrong, not on, however you want to say it.
  7. gggGuest
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: UK

    gggGuest ...

    Yeah but... the UK market does seem to be particularly neophilic, whereas in the US they seem to be positively neophobic (other than with super expensive lead mines!)... You know as well as anyone its a mistake to extrapolate from one country to another. As far as I can see the UK and US have very atypical sailing scenes (and Aus has about 4, all completely different!). I'd be happier about pontificating more if I knew more about the sailing scene in, say, those small countries who send their reps to the ISAF conference saying "whatever else you do keep the 470 in the games..."
  8. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    I agree with some of your stuff, but I think you're being a bit harsh on the boat. It's got to be compared with other classes sailed at a similar level, and they are rare.
  9. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    There's several Laser-style boats with finer bow sections. The problem is that finer bows create issues of their own. Down here in Oz, there's a baby Laser with finer bows that is often thought to be better upwind, but inferior downwind because the finer bows produce less dynamic lift, leading to handling issues. The boat is shorter than a Laser but also much slower, perhaps due to the lack of dynamic lift and volume.

    Similarly, Ian Bruce fined up the sections in the Byte (baby Laser) around the mid-bow, and now he says that was a mistake.

    You could say that the fine bow style works well in fast boats, but whether it's better for boats that are inherently slower due to their dimensions and ratios is another issue. For its SA, beam and length the Laser is a fine performer. Bruce Kirby knew very well that he could make a finer bow, but he also knew that doing so would make the boat nosedive downwind. Nosediving to a certain extent can be okay in a boat with higher freeboard, but the Laser could not have higher freeboard without adding an unacceptable amount of weight. The way it is, it creates significantly more dynamic lift than a skinny-bowed boat and that seems to make up for the upwind issues.

    Have you tried to get a skinny-bow Moth or 18 Foot Skiff downwind? Skinny bows are trendy and work brilliantly in some boats, but whether they are better for a Laser type is another issue.
  10. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Well said.

    My complaints of the Laser was never its sailing qualities which were good enough to bring out the best in the sailor. My problems were with rigging which often seemed to be intentionally awkward. Some refinements were later allowed after I aged out of serious competition. Its like sailing in shifty inland lake wind. Some let it bother them and they use it as an excuse for poor performance. Some treat wind shifts and poor sail controls as a challenge and just part of the task.
  11. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    You are applying your UK-centric perspective to the rest of the world. My statement may be incorrect where you are located, but it holds true in the much larger world around you.

  12. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    I was responding to someone who was asking what were issues with the design. These are long standing complaints from Laser owners & sailors - some of which have resulted in rigging changes being incorporated, and some of which have been addressed through refinement of the manufacturing process.

    I wasn't trying to be harsh at all - I personally love the boat, but I do try to be objective. Every boat design is a collection of compromises, and by and large the Laser is a pretty good mix. Ignoring the issues and pretending they don't exist is an approach that happens a little too often.

  13. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    I think we're coming at the same thing from different angles. Like you, I think it's a good little boat, but we're coming from different countries and therefore have different issues with it. You're completely right, every boat has issues, but sometimes it seems that the Laser cops an unfair blast.

    I'm in Australia, and our Laser build quality seems consistently fairly good. There are issues with the Laser, but compared to the boats you mentioned (Scow Moth, Europe, Sabre, Solo, etc) IMHO it stacks up damn well overall IMHO. Every class, as you say, has its issues and the Laser seems to be a damn good blend.

    On the same lines, while Par was criticising fat-bow boats, there doesn't seem to be any evidence I can see to say that fine bows are better in boats of thise type. Even needle-nose classes like the NS14 singlehander don't perform better overall than the Laser. One of the interesting things about the Laser, to me, is that it was one of the earlier U-bow boats (similar to Kirby's earlier work in I-14s, although he surprisingly he says there's little connection) which has good effects. While the topsides flare is "old-fashioned", it's there for a good reason.

    As I said, I'm not in the UK. Everything I see from the US indicates that people there are more into supporting the biggest local class rather than creating new ones, and from an OZ perspective it is taken too far and that may be bad for dinghy sailing there. But don't boats like the 29er and Vanguard show that newer (compared to FSs, Thistles etc) can succeed if they give the US market what it wants? Interestingly, the two strongest dinghy scenes in the world from many aspects are the UK (where they have lots of new classes) and Australia (where we have almost no new classes apart from the 9ers, which are far from huge), which seems to indicate that the rate of take-up of new classes isn't that significant when it comes to the overall health of the sport.

    Re "From a designer's standpoint, there is no more miserable state of affairs possible. Faster, safer, more comfortable, better and cheaper don't matter if people aren't willing to consider change."

    Maybe it's not that people aren't willing to consider change - it's just that when they consider change, they find reasonable, rational grounds for rejecting it. Take the Lasers down here. We've got 46 active boats in my club, and we've got another dozen fleets in this city alone. That's fantastic, as far as I can see.

    What happens if we change boats tomorrow? How many people can afford to sell their Laser in a down market (and if people dumped the class, it WOULD be a down market) and then find the money to buy a new GeeWizz 15? What's going to happen to our Radial club champ, a uni student with a nice Laser, if everyone goes to another class? What will happen to the club commodore, who will have to replace both his daughter's Radials? What about the keen, improving guy who works as a window washer - can he afford to lose cash on his Laser and go to another class? And in the end, why?

    You mentioned that new boats could be "faster, safer, more comfortable, better and cheaper" So the GeeWizz 15 is faster, where's the benefit? Do we do less sailing, or do we extend the course? Going back about four years the slowest boat I sailed was a successful International Canoe, but that didn't make my sailing more fun.

    Could a new boat be more comfortable? Yep, but there's been big improvements in comfort elsewhere (ie sailing clothing) so comfort is improving indirectly. Better? What makes a OD better than a big class with good racing? Cheaper? How many new boats can you buy for less than a competitive second-hand Laser?

    It seems significant that boards and cats, where they do move to new ODs quickly, have dwindled significantly in many places, so shifting to new ODs is no guarantee that a discipline will do well. Nor are new high performance boats particularly popular anywhere, even in the UK where they are happy to embrace new slow boats.

    Sure, if everyone has this attitude, we'll never change classes, but they don't, and there are many developments that don't make boats obsolete we can look at. The fact that the Laser has achieved its current immense success is one hell of a good development IMHO, and one far greater than making a new design.

    Maybe in 2010, there's a new paradigm where most people see beyond the "new model each year" idea. Maybe that new paradigm is the big development, and maybe that's more important, far reaching and innovative than just creating another new design. Maybe in these days of durable boats, we just have to accept that there's less reason to create new classes?
  14. idkfa
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    idkfa Senior Member

    She is a good boat but if she were 50lbs lighter, she'd plane in 15k instead of 20k+, and with a cored laminate no problem. The minimum improvement to keep up with the times.

    Does cost trump all else? Is there any boat available at the second-hand price of a laser?

  15. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    CT 249 Senior Member


    She already planes in less than 20 knots, and if you did make her plane earlier you'd also make 190,000 boats obsolete.

    But the main point is, what are these times we're keeping up with? It's a time when there's still no evidence that there's a big shift towards high performance craft, even when they are heavily promoted; it's a time when urban hipsters are riding comparatively slow fixed and single-speed bikes instead of fast roadies or TT bikes or even faster recumbents; it's a time when longboards are apparently outselling shortboards in surfing; it's a time the Extreme 40s high-performance cat series has lost its title sponsor and the J Class has just picked up a series sponsor; it's a time when the 1912-vintage International 12 (a gaff rigged clinker one design) is looking to re-establish its international status; it's a time when the main company building the world's fastest dinghy (Moth) has twice gone bankrupt having lost thousands of dollars for every boat built; it's a time when two of the traditional Aussie Skiff development classes have gone one-design; it's a time when the New Zealand R Class, one of the world's most advanced dinghies, has only about a dozen active boats, and the most popular crewed dinghy in that country is a slow 11 footer weighing a massive 82kg or so; it's a time when the most popular development cat class is the 180kg F18, whereas years ago the most popular development cat class was the A Class which weighed about 68kg (IIRC) before it had a minimum weight imposed.

    The average speed of the big UK classes in 1975 was faster than it is today. There's actually been a shift AWAY from skiff-type crewed boats in the UK, although there is a lot of interest in new singlehanders. However, the ancient and slow Solo is still hugely popular in the UK, and the almost as old and slow Sabre is the #1 class in much of Australia. Hell, there seems to be more regatta activity in J Classers than in canting keel maxis, the ORMA 60s have died, and the cheap and slow 40 foot singlehanded monos are booming.

    Overall, it seems very hard to see any shift towards leading-edge performance boats in sailing (or to the leading edge in any sport I know well). So maybe the real spirit of the times is AWAY from going faster. That could be a great thing - there's so many things we could do for this sport if we stopped trying to kill off the classes that are its backbone and that attract most of the new (and old) sailors.
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