By John Kerr
The Laser 4.7-a great idea for a great one design.
I grew up in Lasers and to declare myself early on I love the boat. In fact I can recall only a few years when I haven’t owned one. But now as I age and as my kids grow up I am thrilled to see how Laser has evolved from its roots to give us three options for sailing. I went through the pains of owning an Optimist when sadly my son out grew that boat in less than two years and became frustrated being just too big to sail it. For parents too this new 4.7 allows you to get a longer use for your Laser and allows all your family to sail or race. The 4.7 comes from the size of the sail for this rig coming in at 4.7 square meters.
If you are at the stage where your kids want to go out in the Laser by themselves, or if sometimes you feel there is just too much wind the new concepts of the Laser radial and Laser 4.7 just extend the investment in your boat.
The Laser 4.7 is the latest evolution of the Laser and this allows comfortable sailing for kids. And what is brilliant about this is that like the Laser Radial it makes use of the majority of the stuff the kids like to have these days and allows them to get a sense of what the Laser and Radial feels like. What my son liked was the fact he could feel what the hull felt like as it provided him a more forgiving sail.
By changing only the sail and lower mast the Laser 4.7 can be sailed comfortably in all wind conditions and provide exciting but controlled sailing for any sailor weighing as little as 35 kg. The Laser 4.7 uses a short pre-bent lower mast to maintain a balanced helm and a sail area that is 35% smaller than the Laser Standard. It is ideal for learning to sail or for the lighter weight sailor graduating from Optimist. The sail gets its name from its size, which is 4.7 square meters in area (approximately 51 square feet). The 4.7 has a much more manageable rig for smaller sailors compared to a Radial’s 62 square feet or a Laser’s 76 square feet The 4.7’s unique lower mast features a bend. This is an effective design that keeps the sail’s center of effort balanced correctly relative to the hull’s center of resistance. This feature lets smaller sailors enjoy the genuine Laser feel in a package that will let sailors stay in control no matter what the conditions.
I couldn’t think about how this evolution makes so much sense for junior sailing programs that have so much investment in their present boats but can now easily and effectively rig their boats for all sizes and shapes of kids and allow the boats full use all the time. Lower maintenance costs, fewer hardware runs and more time on the water would be great benefits of adopting the 4.7 rig in addition to the radials which so many clubs now have. And with its roots the 4.7 will allow junior sailing more balance and involvement across all the students. It takes the best of the Laser’s reputation as a superb training boat and opens up the excitement of an Olympic class to all, something which cannot be discounted.
The Laser 4.7 is quickly following in its siblings footsteps gaining a huge following in Europe. Last year some events boasted 120 entries from 20 countries and in recognition of its growth ISAF granted International Status at its recent annual conference. The new 4.7 brand and the concept of a single Laser hull sailed with one of three rig choices has reinforced the Laser reputation. Its truly international infrastructure and appeal to a wide age group and weight ranges will continue to reinforce the position of the Laser as an important stage in developing future Olympic and world class yachtsmen.
Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s September 2003 issue.
Sail Area: 173 sq. feet
Hull Weight: 560 lbs