Buying a boat in the ILCA Dinghy era

Buying a boat in the ILCA Dinghy era

The Advantages.
With the name change of the Laser to the ILCA dinghy and most importantly, the move to multiple builders – we are constantly asked for guidance in this new reality. Here is a summary of our answers.

There should be two major advantages with the change to multiple builders in our class.

1. Open market competition

To gain market share, all builders are expected to build boats and parts of the highest quality. One would not be surprised if, after some time, the price of the ILCA Dinghy will drop, allowing the most popular sailing dinghy in the world to reach even a bigger public.

2. Mutual governance

A second possible benefit to having multiple builders is that they are likely to police each other to make sure that all of the new boats meet the requirements in the class rules and build manual for a proper boat.

Each new builder has an incentive to build the best and highest quality boat, but each also has an incentive to make sure that their competitors are not bending the rules to build a better boat.
For example, new scanning technologies now allow seeing if a builder added stiffening materials to the hull, or altered the boat in any way. If one builder makes boats that seem faster, it’s likely that one or more of the other builders (or the Class) will put one of these hulls to the test and complain if they find that a competitor’s product is out of compliance. It should be good for the Class.

Each builder wants to build the best boat they can within the rules, but no builder wants to take the risk of building a non-compliant boat, and each builder has a reason to monitor what their competitors are doing.  
How to Buy a New Boat.
In the past, most Lasers were bought at a local dealership. If there was an issue with the boat, the local dealer was expected to represent the interests of the client with the builder. We imagine that now most sailors will buy the ILCA dinghy directly from builders.

Since buyers will now have a selection of builders to choose from, it may make sense to talk to the builder and see how each builder is approaching mast rake, weight, and other quality issues. Here are topics we understand champion sailors cover with a builder:

➝ How long has the boat been in the mold? The longer the hull cures in the mold the better the chance an even and symmetric bottom will come out. A symmetric hull is expected to be faster.

➝ What happens if the boat leaks? Although rare, most customer frustrations with the Laser had to do with boats leaking coming out of the box. Most common leaks are from the lack of sufficient bonding material between deck and bottom in the daggerboard case or the gunwale. Therefore before ordering a new ILCA dinghy it is important to find out what tests the builder does to assure the boat is water tight before it leaves the factory. It is also important to find out what remedies the builder offers for defects as boats may come from distant continents.

It might turn out that builders will guarantee that the boat does not leak for 6 or 12 months if handled properly.

➝ How focused is the particular builder on mast rake, hull weight, blade quality and the like. It makes sense to ask a potential builder whether they will guarantee that the boat will be minimum weight, that the blades will be straight, and whether the mast rake will fall within a mm or two of what appears to be the ideal rake—or if the builder is using a different rake.

We know that top sailors can make any Laser hull sail fast no matter what its measurements are. Still, we are constantly asked what some of the top sailors think are the best rake and other measurements. Here are some numbers we gathered that may help the technical minded sailors make a boat order. Any feedback on these numbers will be highly appreciated.

According to page 13 on the 2020 Laser Handbook an ILCA dinghy nominal weight is 58 kg with the following items installed:
Bow fitting, control pulley fitting with pulleys at mast, control cleat fitting with cleats, center board friction pad/plate fitting, mainsheet pulley fairlead, grab rails, hiking strap fairleads, bailer through hull brass fitting, bailer and bung, traveller cleat, traveller fairleads, gudgeons, rudder lift stop, transom bung and fitting, all screws.

We weighed all the “installed fittings” (see picture below) separately to reach 1.13 kg. This means the “naked” hull can not be lighter than 56.87 kg, but to be safe hull should be 57 kg. 

Here are some other pointers top 10 sailors in both standard and radial rig recently provided us when looking for a new boat. 
Mast Rake: anywhere between 3810-3815 mm, measured with a standard bottom section 35 mm from the edge of the nonskid (see pictures below).

Symmetric centreboard case, stiff and smooth hull all around.

Centreboard: straight, fiberglass with white glossy paint, weight 4.51 kg

Rudder Blade: Straight, fiberglass with white glossy paint, weight 1.55 kg

Top mast weight: Alloy 2.86 kg
Composite: So far there was no noticeable difference in the stiffness of these tops and no correlation between the weight and stiffness. So find a top you like and keep it.

Bottom mast weight standard: 4.58 kg

Harken cleats, Harken vang.

Here is the list of approved builders dated April 20th 2020. As things open up, we would like to hear about your experiences if you order a new boat.

I would like to thank Master World Champion Wolfgang Gerz for his input to this article. The Laser was originally built to be a lake family sailboat that fits on a car top. No one could have imagined that 40 years later, professional athletes would sail the boat 3-5 hours a day, with the help of coaches, video analysis, psychologists, nutritionists, with national and international pride on the line. The pressure to win can lead very ambitious sailors to cheat and modify their Laser with no consequences. Wolfgang who is a purist was looking for ways to allow regatta juries to accept a protest about a hull’s weight. With the publication of the hull’s nominal weight by ILCA in the 2020 Class Handbook, protests from sailors (see Julio Alsogaray) can no longer be denied.

We feel the International Laser class association is heading to a great new future.

Ari Barshi
Laser Training Cabarete
Installed parts.
Measure point for mast rake.
Example for a mast rake.

Laser Training Cabarete


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