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22 April 2004, 02:12 pm
180,000 And Still Growing
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International Laser Class Association

We have recently passed another landmark in Laser history. We have just issued building plaque number 180000. Laser has come a long way since its humble beginning as an "off the beach fun boat".
We have recently passed another landmark in Laser history. We have just issued building plaque number 180000. Laser has come a long way since its humble beginning as an "off the beach fun boat". In the seventies ISAF wanted the Laser as an Olympic class and we said no because at that time we felt the pressures would be too big on what was then a new concept - "take your boat out of the box, don't change anything, just go sailing."

No ALT tag specifiedThe original concept was the result of a telephone conversation between the first builder, Ian Bruce, and designer Bruce Kirby. During that conversation Kirby sketched the lines on a scrap of paper which were very similar to the final production boat.

Like a number of good ideas the project sat in a drawer until early in 1970 when a sailing magazine decided to hold a competition for low cost sail boats. The drawing was revived and Ian Bruce built a boat. For the competition the boat was called "Weekender" and sail maker, Hans Fogh, stitched "TGIF" (Thank God It's Friday) on the sail. Fogh completed the first sail without seeing the mast, just in time to meet with Ian Bruce and the boat on the way to the regatta!

Fogh sailed the boat for the first time on the Saturday and finished second in class. He made a few alterations to the sail overnight and went out and won the next race. The rest is history!

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The original concept of an "off the beach fun boat" is as valid now as it was 35 years ago. Yet the same hull, mast and sail now also provide some of the most demanding and intense Olympic sailing competition.

All the Lasers in the world could support 174 jumbo jets.

For fun I asked our Technical Officer, Adam French, to number crunch some figures into unusual statistics which I hope will amuse you and provide the opportunity for challenging questions in the clubhouse:

• If you put the masts of all the Lasers ever built (not including spares and replacements) end to end, they would reach from London to Copenhagen and take two hours to fly from one end to the other (in a jumbo jet).
• Over 2.5 million m2 of Laser sails have been made, enough to cover 500 football pitches.
• If packed into standard 40 ft. containers, you would need over 9,000 trucks and the truck convoy would be over 270 km long.
• If you built a raft of all the Lasers ever built, it would be able to support the weight of 174 jumbo jets.
• If all the Lasers ever built started on a single start line (2 boat widths per boat) the line would be nearly 500 km long, so starters at each end would have to cover about 350 km before they crossed, taking about three days in medium breeze!

Image Credits: International Laser Class Association
ILCA Executive Secretary Jeff Martin
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