Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish?

Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

Solo sailing for races requires a fast boat, with two models coming to mind. You might be wondering, is a Laser faster than a Sunfish?

Both of those sailboats provide an enjoyable ride, are fast, and have their positives. But which one is faster when it matters the most?

Laser sailboats are faster than Sunfishes and are easier to handle out of the two. Professional sailors often race with a Laser since its design allows it more speed for its size. As for Sunfishes, they are lightweight and fast, but they are more of a recreational boat.

If you were trying to purchase one of the two for everyday use, the Sunfish is a great option. But if you want an opportunity to win races with a similar boat size, then a Laser is your best bet.

According to experts in the industry, the Laser is by far the faster boat of the two. In fact, they use the Laser in Olympic races and continue to plan ahead with the schedule with that particular boat.

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‍ Differences Between a Laser and Sunfish

A Laser and a Sunfish are not entirely different since they are made of the same materials and are about the same size. A Laser sailboat is great for newbies or even children wanting to learn how to sail. Out of the two, it is more nimble and has a better chance at going faster while sailing.

As for the Sunfish , it has similarities compared to a Laser. However, it is best reserved to be a recreational boat instead of a racer. While the Laser is easier to handle, the Sunfish is not that bad to handle either.

If you want speed, the Laser is by far the faster boat if the two were to go head to head. Assuming the person sailing both boats are professionals, the Laser handles upwind much better and will dominate in a head to head competition against a Sunfish.

Buy a Sunfish or a Laser?

There are a few factors that come into play for purchasing either a Sunfish or a Laser. It is completely understandable if you find a good deal on either one and decide to go for that option, but you must figure out your sailing goals.

Your sailing goals, whether it is to have a good time or to race, need to be addressed before you make a final decision. Both boats are designed for specific purposes, so it is important to know what you want and why.

Best for Newbies or Children

If you have a small child or someone that wants to learn how to sail, then the Laser is the best option. Lasers allow the perfect setting to get started with sailing since they are lightweight and easy to operate.

With the Sunfish, this boat is best for one person navigating the other just enjoying the ride. While not complicated to operate a Sunfish, the Laser is just easier. The Laser is slightly wider than a Sunfish by about five inches, so an extra person on board might be easier to handle here.

More Stability

While this should not be alarming for these types of sailboats, you are going to get wet. In fact, both these boats are considered “wet boats” since you are just inches away from the water and you have the chance of capsizing.

On a majority of boats, this is bad news. However, capsizing on a dinghy is part of the process when trying to learn how to race them.

If you do capsize, do not worry about your boat. They both have self-bailing systems in place to help remove water from the cockpit.

Lasers can be a bit touchy when trying to navigate since they respond with weight shifts in the boat. Even though they can be easier to navigate, you are likely to capsize more often in these than a Sunfish.

Sunfish boats are less likely to capsize since their design is meant to be recreational, whereas the Laser is a racer and is capable of this more often. If you want more time enjoying the sun while sailing, the Sunfish is better in this regard.

Overall Cost

Finding a good deal on either sailboat is part of the process and could make the biggest impact on your decision. Your sailing goals are a priority when making a decision about what works best for you, but the price is also important to consider.

A brand new Sunfish can range up to $5,500 for their performance package, while other models cost about $4,000. If you find a used one, these can range between $500 to $2,000 depending on condition and age.

A brand new Laser can range up to $5,800, with some packages offering around $5,100. A used one is likely the best for any budget, as these vary between $1,500 and $3,000 based on condition.

When looking at a used version of either boat, you want to make sure the hull is in good shape with very few imperfections. It needs to be firm, without any soft spots, or you risk it taking on water in the future.

While this will be difficult to potentially get an honest answer for a used version, you need to ask how the boat was stored when not in use. The best way to keep it in its condition is when it is dry and covered. If the boat has been in the water for some time in the elements, it could potentially gain weight and fall apart later after use.

You need to check the weight of the used boat you are purchasing too. Both the Sunfish and Laser have weights of about 130 pounds.

In addition, the condition of the sails needs to be considered before buying. New Laser sails can cost up to $700, while new sails on the Sunfish vary around $450.

As you can see, both sailboats can be afforded if your budget is in shape. They both cover the same areas in price, so it likely does not matter a lot when trying to buy one unless you find a good deal.

Ease of Use

Both sailboats are simple and easy to use, with some exceptions. Both have different amounts of sail controls to operate but are still easy to use.

The Sunfish is a straightforward operation with just a few controls to play with. This makes it one of the more popular boats to exist as a recreational dinghy.

For the Laser, it usually has around five different controls to mess with and can be overwhelming at first for a small child. However, it is easy to learn and anyone can catch on quickly.

No matter which one you choose, they both make it easy to operate. You just need to see which one fits your style of sailing.

Both the Sunfish and Laser are made out of fiberglass, so you do not have to worry about wood being the base of the boat. With that said, there are not really any differences to what each boat is made of.

The part that matters is the condition of the boat if you decide to buy one used. Fiberglass is easier to clean and maintain, but you need to know how to work on it if you find one that needs repairs.

Setup Times

Both boats are easy to set up in and out of the water. By just a few minutes, the Sunfish is slightly easier to get going versus the Laser.

It takes roughly 20 minutes to get everything going for the Laser, assuming you have a routine down. If you want to save a few minutes of time preparing for your sailing trip, the Sunfish is the slightly better option.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Sailboat Laser and Sunfish

If you like to sail solo, want a bit of a thrill, and something easy to set up and store, than Lasers and Sunfish are the sailboat for you. Both are quick and light and give you a fantastic ride. What’s the difference between a laser and a sunfish? We’ll make a brief introduction to both.

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Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance-Sailing Dinghies

Agile, fun boats like the classic sunfish and new hobie bravo keep the smile in summer sailing..

sunfish sailboat vs laser

Photos by Ralph Naranjo

Messing around in small boats is a global theme-one thats embraced by pond-bound pram sailors, river riders, lake voyagers, and all of us who call salt water home. The purpose of this sailing dinghy profile is to highlight seven very interesting little sailboats. Some are new designs, and others have stood the test of time, but all are currently being manufactured, and each drives home just how much fun sailing close to the water can be.

This isn’t a shootout among anorexic speedsters or a report on the best tender that doubles as a sailing dinghy. Its a look at perennials like the Optimist, Sunfish, and Laser-legendary competitors that have helped spawn some of the best sailors in the world. But its also a look at three of the newest entries in the dinghy-sailing circle: Bics Open, Hobies Bravo, and Laser Performances Bug. These agile, new sailing dinghies are chock full of fun and boat-handling features to inspire kids of all ages to go sailing.

Well also take a look at Chesapeake Light Crafts kit approach to getting started-one that offers meaningful lessons and tangible rewards well before the boat ever hits the water.

Scale down an Open 60, add sail technology long favored by windsurfers, and put it into play in a tough thermo-formed hull, and you have the makings for a new kind of watercraft. The result is a very interesting blend of performance and reliability that targets adolescent interest. When all is said and done, Bics boat is more akin to a sit-down windsurfer than a traditional Blue Jay. And like all good boats, its vying for attention not just based on performance, construction quality, and style, but just as importantly, on the price tag stuck to the hull.

The Open Bics light weight and wide, flat stern section means that even small chop can be surfed; and bursts of planing on a reach add a zing factor to dinghy sailing. The Open Bic is already an International Sailing Federation (ISAF)-sanctioned class, and fleets are developing around the US. Another bonus: Its an easily portable boat that can be carried like a windsurfer, adding excitement to a Sunday picnic at the beach.

The thermo-formed polyethylene hull is a modified hard-chine design with lots of beam aft. Sailed flat, the boat is agile enough to surf wavelets, and with a shape thats ergonomically friendly to hiking, the ensuing heel on the upwind leg puts just the right amount of chine into the water. In light air, careful control of heel can significantly reduce wetted surface.

The design team that developed the Open Bic saw it as a transition bridge from Optimist sailing to a more performance-oriented dinghy. An interesting innovation is that the Open Bic can be sailed with an Optimists rig and blades. This buy the hull only approach can be a significant incentive for parents with children outgrowing their Opti as fast as their boat shoes. However it wont be long before the kids want the fully turbo-charged feel delivered with the Open Bics well-shaped 4.5-square-meters rig, sail, and nicely foiled blades.

Bottom line: The Open Bic is fast, agile, and buckets of fun for kids uninspired by sailing in the slow lane.

Just when you think that Hobie Cat Co. has covered whats possible in beach-cat innovation, their design/engineering crew comes up with a new twist that reinvents the wheel. The Hobie Bravo is a good case in point.

In a recent visit to Backyard Boats ( ) in Annapolis, Md., we got a good look at the Bravo. Nearly as narrow as a monohull but still quite stable, this quick-to-launch beach cat packs plenty of get-up-and-go. Its a simple to sail, entry-level boat that fast tracks learning the steer, sheet, and hike trilogy. The boat features a single, midline rudder and roto-molded hulls. The shape of the hulls provides enough lateral plane to allow a crew to make headway to windward.

The narrow (4 feet), 12-foot Bravo uses crew weight and hiking straps to add to the righting moment once the breeze is up. Whats done with webbing on larger cats has been converted to a shallow, rigid deck well on the Bravo. It does raise the weight of the boat to 195 pounds, but it offers comfortable seating plus room for cushions and a cooler. Kids or grown ups can have a Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn type of adventure aboard this fun little sailing machine. Or the family on a beach picnic can set it up and take turns speed reaching along a sandy shoreline.

The furling mast supports a roachy sail with slightly slanted vertical battens, helping to shape the boomless mainsail. The result is convenient sail handling, decent performance, and superior safety. Theres no boom to clobber the crew, and the roller-furled sail and mast are easily stepped in the tripod-like receiver. This interesting set of struts raises the top bearing point of the mast step and spreads rig loads out to the hulls. The furling mainsail offers the ability to reef, a big plus in a building breeze or when teaching children to sail.

Like all of the boats in the Hobie lineup, theres a wide range of specialty parts and fittings that make the boats fast to rig and easy to handle. The kick-up rudder is hung on gudgeons mounted in the center of stern, and just as rig loads have been effectively spread via the tripod step, the energy radiating from the large rudder is spread athwartships via a contoured deck element.

Bottom line: The boat is quick to rig, easy to launch, and responsive to beginners-more experienced sailors will have just as much fun power reaching when the breeze is up.

The Bug

A pocket-sized club trainer, the Bug is an evolution of the kids trainer/club racer that leverages lessons learned in Optis, Dyers, and Sabots. It pulls together the logic of a stable hull shape and simple-to-sail rig, and puts it all in a cost-effective package.

Lending to its success is designer Jo Richardss ergonomic, roto-molded hull, a fabrication that is as close to zero maintenance as a boat can get. The straight out-of-the-mold polyethylene skin gets a few decals, and theres no wood to refinish or gelcoat to wax. These tough, abrasion-resistant hulls have a bumper boat tolerance thats a big plus when it comes to kids learning to sail. Best of all, owners can start with a learn-to-sail rig and upgrade to a more performance-oriented mast and sail package (41 or 56 square feet) that kicks performance into the fast lane.

Oars and an outboard motor bracket can be added to turn the little sailboat into a dual-purpose dinghy. Even the bow painters means of attachment makes sense-no projecting hardware ready to knick the topsides of unintended contacts. Instead, theres a recessed hole in the stem allowing a line to be lead through and a knot used to keep the painter in place.

Bottom line: Aimed at club programs and families look for boats that can be transported on the car top, the Bug is easy to rig and definitely kid friendly. The fact that its manufacturer, Laser Performance, is an international interest and a major player in the performance dinghy industry means that this boat and its parts will be around for a while.

Hobie Bravo

Photo courtesy of Hobie Cat Co.

Eastport Pram

Chesapeake Light Craft expedites boatbuilding for do-it-yourselfers looking to take their garage-built boats for a sail. The company pre-cuts parts, packs kits with all the materials, epoxy, and paint youll need, and leads homebuilders through a thoroughly detailed stitch-and-glue approach to assembly. Kits are available in various stages of completeness, ranging from plans only to the full package, including sail, hardware, running rigging, and paint.

The Eastport Pram is just shy of 8 feet, and the marine plywood and epoxy construction delivers a boat that weighs in, sans sailing rig, at just 62 pounds. Lighter than the comparatively sized Bug, this stiff, durable dinghy, rows like a real boat and sails comfortably with one or two aboard. In keeping with other good tender attributes, the Pram behaves under tow and is equally amicable when propelled by a small outboard or tacked up an estuary under sail.

Kit boatbuilding continues to have a niche following. Theres also an added-value feature worth noting: On one hand, the builder receives a box of pieces and the result of his or her endeavor leads to an aesthetic and utilitarian dinghy. In addition, the DIY skills the builder develops will be useful in other epoxy bonding, brightwork, or mono-urethane application projects. Such talents will benefit many other boat maintenance endeavors.

Whats hard to quantify is the sense of accomplishment derived from sailing a boat that you have built yourself. When the project is tackled in tandem with a child, spouse, or friend, the memories and the boat will last.

Bottom line: With neither sidedecks or a sealed hull, this is not a boat thats easy to recover from a capsize. So once the kids favor on-the-edge sailing in a building breeze, a non swamping, easier-righting boat is probably a better option. The Pram can then be put to use by their appreciative parents or grandparents.

Never in their wildest dreams did Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce imagine that the Weekender (the Lasers original name) was destined to become an Olympic class sailboat and one of the most popular springboards for top-tier sailors in the world today. Originally envisioned as a car-topper for weekend campers, the cat-rigged, low freeboard sailing dinghy morphed from its original roots into a boat favored by college competitors and revered by generations of agile sailors of all ages. Even frostbiting winter sailors have locked onto the Laser.

Chesapeake Light Craft

Designed in 1969, the Lasers first few years were anything but smooth sailing. Popularity grew quickly, but along with the limelight came plenty of consternation. Dubbed a surfboard not a sailboat by a growing cross-section of the yachting elite-many parents warned junior sailors to steer as clear of Lasers as they did sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The campaign failed, and junior sailors in yacht club programs around the country fell into the grip of the new one-design dinghy-discovering the sailboats proclivity to plane.

one-design Laser

Dyer Dhows languished in boat sheds across the country as a new theme in sailing took hold. Dubbed fast is fun by sailor/engineer Bill Lee, the young Merlin of Santa Cruz, Calif., took the theme to big-boat sailing, merging California culture with the Laser logic of light displacement and planing hull shapes.

Best of all, the Laser embraced the ideal of a tightly controlled one-design class that put people on the water in identical boats and left winning and losing races up to sailing skill and tactics rather than a boats performance edge. For decades, the boat has been the single-handed sailors choice among junior sailing programs, and with the addition of the Radial, 4.7 and M rigs, smaller competitors have also found the boat to be a great sailing platform. Today, theres some lawyer saber-rattling over the sale of the design rights, but the boat remains more popular than ever.

The sleeved sail, two-part spar, daggerboard, and kick-up rudder make the boat a quick-to-rig and fast-to-get underway dinghy. Light-air efficiency is good for a one-design sailboat, but this means that as the breeze builds, the non-reefable sail can become a handful in a hurry. In fact, the boats Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde demeanor is what builds talent among Laser practitioners. The big boys block the mainsail and blast off for the layline, while lighter sailors heavy-weather tactics include more nuanced de-powering and feathering. In light air, the tables turn, and the winner is often the sailor who planes quickest on the reaches. The old guards surfboard slam may have held some credence after all.

Bottom line: The Laser is a timeless classic thats easily transported and is built for performance. Its well suited to adrenaline-seeking teens as well as the more fit adult crowd.

Designed in 1947 by Floridian Clark Mills, the utilitarian Optimist could be made out of two sheets of plywood-and from its inception, the Optimist was meant to link kids with the water. Slipping into obscurity in the U.S., the little pram found fertile ground to grow in northern Europe. With just a few tweaks, the Scandinavians took Millss lines and parlayed them into whats become the favored junior sailing trainer for kids from Detroit to Timbuktu. Statistics show that there are about 30 builders worldwide putting out approximately 4,000 boats each year. With about 130,000 boats class registered and an estimated 300,000 total hulls built (amateur and pro), theres plenty of reasons to get excited about an Opti.

Performance boats

The example weve chosen is the USA-built McLaughlin boat, both a demonstration of high-quality FRP construction and modern manufacturing techniques. Its also a boat that can be purchased in a range of performance-inducing iterations-upgrades designated as club, intermediate, advanced, and professional versions. Like all performance sailboats, stiffness and strength-to-weight ratio is important. But class rules include a minimum weight, so the most competitive hulls meet the mandatory lower limit but use good engineering and building technique to reinforce the daggerboard slot and mast step and produce overall stiffness.


The low mast height and high aspect ratio sprit sail is very versatile, affording young (and small, 65 to 130 pounds) sailors a wide window of decent performance. The flat bottom, slab-sided hull is responsive to crew weight-driven trim changes, and the better the sailor, the more agile they become. Light-air performance is all about minimizing wetted surface and maximizing sail area projection. When the breeze starts to kick up, the sailor becomes the ballast, and the art of hiking, sheet handling, and tiller wiggling come into play.

Under careful adult supervision, two 6- to 8-year-olds can double-hand the friendly little dinghy, or one more-confident child can solo sail it. In fact, introducing kids to sailing with similar proportioned small prams has been a right of passage around for decades. A set of oarlock gudgeons can turn the pram into a functional dinghy thats also adaptable to the smaller Torqeedo outboard (

McLaughlin also markets a Roto-molded polyethylene version of the Opti and sells DIY kits for those who want to create their own wood version.

Bottom line: The Opti is like a first bicycle without the need for training wheels. The fact that at the last Olympics, over 80 percent of the winning sailors had gotten their start in an Optimist speaks well to the value of messing around in this particular dinghy.

Open Bic

Designed in 1951 by ice boaters Alexander Bryan and Cortland Heyniger, the hard chine Sunfish was the prototype board boat. In 1959, it made the transition into fiberglass, and over the following half-century, more than a quarter-million hulls would hit the water. Simplicity and decent sailing attributes combined with an attractive price to make the Sunfish the most popular one-design dinghy ever raced.

Far more than a platform for racers, these boats are an excellent training tool for sailors of all ages. Also built by Laser Performance, they reflect the fun of summer and put sailors in close contact with the water on which they sail. Its no surprise that the larger fleets coincide with warm water and many see going for a swim to be part and parcel of the low-freeboard experience.

The lateen rig is in keeping with the overall design concept and simplifies rigging. A short stub of a mast is stepped and a single halyard hoists the sail along with tilting V-shaped upper and lower booms.

The total sail area is nearly the same as the Laser, but the halyard hoist versatility of the lateen rig make it a handy beach boat and a little less daunting when the wind begins to build. The clean sail shape on one tack and deformation caused by the mast on the other tack are a slight drawback. The Laser rig is more efficient, but when caught out in a squall, its nice to be able to ease the halyard and dump the sail. Its also handy to be able to leave the boat tethered to a mooring, and the doused sail and short mast make it possible.

Multiple generations of sailors are often found sailing Sunfish, and the boat represents one of the best bargains to be found in the used boat market. When considering a pre owned boat, the potential buyer needs to take a close look at the daggerboard-to-hull junction and mast step, points where previous damage can create hard-to-fix leaks.

Bottom line: The Sunfish is a great beach boat that can turn a hot afternoon into a fun-filled water experience.

There were no losers in this group, and picking winners and runners-up proved a difficult task. The outcome had to be based on assumptions about how these boats would be used. For example, parents with a competitive 9-year-old who swims like a fish, always sprints for the head of the lunch line, and likes to steal bases in Little League probably have an Opti racer in the making. Less competitive junior sailors-future cruisers in the making-will do better learning aboard a Bug. Many newly formed sailing clubs target the boat as their trainer of choice.

The Bravo holds plenty of appeal for those with a lakeside cottage or a favored campground destination. Whether its a solo sail just before sunset or a fun race on Sunday, the quick to set up and put away features are a plus, and for those who feel that two hulls are better-the Bravo will hold plenty of appeal.

Serious competitors can campaign a Laser for life, and whether youre headed for a local district regatta or getting ready for the Olympic trials, the hull, rig, and sail remains identical-sort of like the Monaco Grand Prix being raced in a street legal Mustang.

Bic Opens new little speedster tickled our fancy, and as a trainer/performance boat crossover, it drew a strong nod of approval. Watching the junior sailors smiles as they sailed their Open Bics endorsed our opinion.

And if there is any boat that defines the essence of summer, the Sunfish takes the prize.

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Published on May 11th, 2023 | by Editor

Sunfish Class versus LaserPerformance

Published on May 11th, 2023 by Editor -->

The shenanigans of boat builder LaserPerformance (LP) led to their removal as a supplier to the Laser Class, and due to their rights to the Laser name, led the popular one design organization to change its name to ILCA. It was all unfortunate, and LP’s performance is now inflicting the Sunfish Class.

It was April 24, 2023 when the International Sunfish Class Association (ISCA) announced how the 2023 Sunfish World Championship in Ecuador had been cancelled. This action was a result of how LP had agreed to provide boats for the Worlds, as they typically do, but then decided not to, and how it was no longer possible to get enough boats for the event.

When LP posted a statement on May 8, 2023 to explain their decision, it prompted the ISCA to distribute this clarifying notice on May 11, 2023:

While a lot of good things are happening in the class, Laser Performance, our builder, published a troubling message regarding the class. Their intent is unclear, but we thought it would be best to immediately share the full story with you.

sunfish sailboat vs laser

Here are ISCA’s responses to the major points made by LP in their post (LP’s statements are in bold):

1. ISCA declined LP’s generous sponsorship offer : The agreement was in fact signed in 2017 by Bill Crane, Chairman of LP, and Larry Mass, former ISCA President. Unfortunately, LP never honored the agreement and no money was received ( Sponsorship Agreement 2017). 2. ISCA website does not look like a Sunfish website : Please visit and draw your own conclusion. 3. LP does not want ISCA certifying North racing sails and Selden spars : Unfortunately, LP has only infrequently been supplying racing sails and hasn’t supplied spare spars in several years, so ISCA acted in conjunction with World Sailing to approve two Class Rule Changes in March 2023 to make these needed parts available to our dealers. Sunfish Class Association – Rules & Measurement 4. LP was willing to provide boats for the Ecuador Worlds but ISCA cancelled the event : Despite having previously reached an agreement with LP to supply the boats, on April 11, Willo Cappelleti, ISCA President, received this email from Bahman Kia of LP: “Willo- further our discussion today, it is unfortunate that both parties were not able to come to a common understanding. LPLDA will not be able to supply the 60 boats for the Sunfish Worlds in Ecuador.” The understanding LP required was that ISCA: a) stop certifying North sails and Selden spars and b) make a public commitment to LP. Without LP we were not able to have enough boats available in Ecuador, so the Worlds had to be moved. 5. ISCA will not sign a World Sailing agreement along with LP: In fact, after long negotiations with LP, ISCA signed the agreed-upon document in 2018 and LP then refused to sign. ( WS Agreement Signed 18 June 18 by ISCA ) 6. ISCA not visiting Portugal plant : Our primary efforts with LP have been to get them to provide better quality boats and a reliable parts supply for our dealers, which should not require a trip to Portugal. Last month (April 2023) was the first time that we have been invited to the Portugal facility. The last time an ISCA representative was invited to visit the factory was China in 2016. 7. LP claim that the 2022 Italy Worlds boats “were considered to be some of the best ever produced” : In the report the ISCA Class Measurer provided to LP post event: 100% of the boats had defective boom end caps, 9% of hulls leaked, and in addition 7% of the boats received redress for breakdowns during the regatta. That is a very high number for a fleet of brand-new boats.

We also wanted to provide some additional news on several topics:

1. Class Approved North sails and Selden spars : Class approved North racing sails and spars are now available from dealers due to ISCA’s work and approval from World Sailing with a Class Rules Change (link is in Point 3, above.) 2. 2023 Worlds will be announced soon : After LP promising boats and then uncommitting to the 2023 Worlds, ISCA will soon be announcing the location (in the US) and dates (early December) for the Worlds. 3. World Sailing Plaques : Additional news is that ISCA has been working closely with World Sailing the last 3 months on an issue with the required World Sailing plaques in Sunfish. ISCA members will get a communication this week that since 2021 LP has produced 560 boats that either did not have the required World Sailing plaque or had a plaque not purchased from World Sailing. Any plaque number above #103678 will need to be replaced. As you can see, the plaques LP printed are similar but different than the authentic plaque. The upcoming communication will have all the information needed to get a legal plaque. ( Documentation on WS Plaques identification ) 4. World Sailing Recognized Class : In part because of the plaque issue, on May 3 World Sailing placed the Sunfish class’s World Sailing Class status under review. ISCA leadership will be working with WS to maintain our status as a World Sailing Class. WS is also requiring us to have a signed WS Agreement in place by the end of 2023.

In conclusion, we want you to know that the class leadership is working hard to ensure that boats, parts, championships, and the integrity of our class remains intact. We are committed to coming out of this a stronger class.

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Tags: LaserPerformance , Sunfish

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sunfish sailboat vs laser

Comparing Speed: Laser Pico Vs. Sunfish - Which Sailboat Comes Out On Top?

  • Last updated Dec 09, 2023
  • Difficulty Advanced

Caesar Hargraves

  • Category Sunfish

which is faster laser pico or sunfish

The battle between laser pico and sunfish has been a long-standing debate among sailing enthusiasts. Both boats boast their own strengths and advantages, leaving sailors torn between the two. While the sunfish offers a classic and nostalgic sailing experience, the laser pico brings a modern and high-performance twist to the table. So, which one is faster? Join us in exploring the thrilling world of sailing as we dive deep into the speed demons that are the laser pico and sunfish.

What You'll Learn

Is a laser pico faster than a sunfish in terms of top speed, how does the acceleration of a laser pico compare to a sunfish, which boat has better maneuverability, the laser pico or the sunfish, in terms of racing performance, is the laser pico or the sunfish considered faster, are there any specific conditions or factors that can affect the speed of a laser pico or a sunfish.


When it comes to sailboats, speed is often a key consideration for enthusiasts. One common comparison is between the Laser Pico and the Sunfish, both popular sailboats known for their versatility and ease of use. While both boats have their strengths, it's important to understand how they perform in terms of top speed.

The Laser Pico and the Sunfish are two different types of sailboats. The Laser Pico is a small dinghy designed for racing and recreational sailing, while the Sunfish is a classic one-person sailboat that is renowned for its simplicity and ease of use. Both boats are designed to be easily handled and to provide an enjoyable sailing experience.

In terms of top speed, the Laser Pico is generally considered to be faster than the Sunfish. The Laser Pico is an agile boat that is designed for racing, with a high-performance hull shape that allows it to reach higher speeds. Its lightweight construction and sleek design help it cut through the water with ease, allowing it to sail at faster speeds compared to the Sunfish.

On the other hand, the Sunfish is not specifically designed for speed. It is more of a recreational sailboat that focuses on simplicity and ease of use. While the Sunfish can certainly reach high speeds, its design and size may limit its potential. The Sunfish has a broader hull shape, which can create more drag as it moves through the water. This can affect its top speed compared to a more streamlined boat like the Laser Pico.

It's important to note that top speed is not the only consideration when choosing a sailboat. The Laser Pico and the Sunfish offer different sailing experiences and are better suited to different purposes. The Laser Pico is ideal for those who enjoy racing or want a boat that can handle more challenging conditions. Meanwhile, the Sunfish is perfect for those who prefer leisurely sailing and simplicity.

To get the most out of either boat in terms of top speed, it's essential to understand proper sailing techniques and to optimize your boat's performance. This includes trimming the sails correctly, maintaining the boat's hull and rigging, and using the appropriate sail size and shape for the wind conditions. Additionally, the skill and experience of the sailor can also have a significant impact on the boat's top speed.

In conclusion, while the Laser Pico and the Sunfish are both popular sailboats, the Laser Pico is generally considered to be faster in terms of top speed. However, it's important to consider that top speed is just one aspect of a sailboat's performance, and the right boat for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you choose the Laser Pico or the Sunfish, both boats offer a fantastic sailing experience that can be enjoyed by enthusiasts of all skill levels.

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When it comes to sailing, understanding the differences between different types of sailboats can significantly impact your sailing experience. One common comparison is the acceleration of a Laser Pico versus a Sunfish. Both boats are popular choices for sailors of all skill levels, but they have distinct features that affect their acceleration capabilities.

The Laser Pico is a modern, lightweight sailboat that offers excellent acceleration. Its design features a highly efficient sail plan that allows for easy maneuverability and quick acceleration. Additionally, the Pico has a planing hull, meaning it can reach higher speeds when the wind conditions are favorable.

On the other hand, the Sunfish is a classic and more traditional sailboat that has a slower acceleration. Its design features a flat bottom, which limits its ability to plane and reach higher speeds. Instead, the Sunfish relies on its stability and steady performance for a more relaxed sailing experience.

To further understand the differences in acceleration, it is essential to consider various factors, including wind conditions, sail size, and body weight. In light winds, both the Laser Pico and Sunfish may struggle to accelerate due to the lack of power in the sails. However, the Laser Pico's more efficient sail plan and planing hull give it an advantage over the Sunfish when it comes to acceleration in lighter winds.

When the wind speed increases, the Laser Pico's lightweight and planing hull allow it to take advantage of the increased power in the sails, resulting in faster acceleration. The Sunfish, with its flat bottom and less efficient sail plan, will generally have a slower acceleration in higher winds.

Sail size also plays a role in the acceleration of both boats. The Laser Pico typically has a larger sail area, which means it can generate more power and speed when the wind is favorable. In contrast, the Sunfish has a smaller sail, which limits its acceleration potential.

Body weight also affects the acceleration of a sailboat. In the case of the Laser Pico, a lighter sailor may experience slightly faster acceleration due to the boat's lighter weight and more efficient sail plan. However, the difference in acceleration based on body weight is minimal compared to other factors such as sail size and wind conditions.

To illustrate the differences in acceleration between the Laser Pico and Sunfish, consider the following example:

Imagine two sailors of similar skill level and body weight setting out on identical courses in their respective boats. In light winds, both sailors would likely experience similar acceleration rates, although the Laser Pico may have a slight advantage due to its more efficient design. As the wind picks up, the Laser Pico would start to pull away, accelerating faster than the Sunfish due to its planing hull and larger sail area. In higher winds, the Laser Pico's acceleration would be noticeably faster, while the Sunfish would struggle to keep up.

In summary, the acceleration of a Laser Pico is generally faster than that of a Sunfish due to its more efficient sail plan, planing hull, and larger sail area. However, it is important to consider various factors such as wind conditions, sail size, and body weight when comparing the acceleration capabilities of different sailboats. Ultimately, the choice between a Laser Pico and Sunfish depends on your preferences, sailing goals, and the type of sailing experience you are seeking.

Mastering the Art of Catching Stonefish and Sunfish in Deeeep

When it comes to sailing, maneuverability is a crucial factor. It determines how quickly and efficiently a boat responds to the skipper's steering commands. In this article, we will compare the maneuverability of two popular sailboats, the Laser Pico and the Sunfish, and determine which one has the better maneuverability.

First, let's discuss the Laser Pico. This sailboat is known for its versatility and ease of use, making it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced sailors alike. The Laser Pico features a simple and efficient rigging system, allowing for quick and easy maneuvering. The boat's high aspect ratio sail design provides excellent control and responsiveness, enabling the skipper to make swift turns and adjustments.

On the other hand, the Sunfish is a classic one-sail boat that has been popular for decades. Known for its simplicity and stability, the Sunfish offers a unique sailing experience. However, when it comes to maneuverability, the Sunfish may not match the responsiveness of the Laser Pico. The Sunfish is a bit bulkier and heavier than the Laser Pico, which can affect its maneuverability to some extent. The boat's larger sail area may require more effort and time to change direction compared to the Laser Pico.

To compare the maneuverability of these two boats, we can consider factors such as turning radius, ease of tacking, and responsiveness to helm inputs. Based on these factors, the Laser Pico generally outperforms the Sunfish in terms of maneuverability. Due to its lightweight design and efficient rigging system, the Laser Pico can make tight and precise turns. Its smaller sail area also makes it easier to tack and change direction quickly.

However, it's important to note that an experienced sailor can still maneuver the Sunfish effectively. With proper techniques and adjustments, the Sunfish can navigate through tight spaces and perform well in various sailing conditions. It may require a bit more skill and effort compared to the Laser Pico, but it is certainly capable of agile maneuvering.

In conclusion, while both the Laser Pico and the Sunfish are popular sailboats, the Laser Pico generally has better maneuverability. Its lightweight design, efficient rigging system, and smaller sail area allow for nimble and responsive navigation. However, with the necessary skills and techniques, the Sunfish can also be maneuvered effectively. Ultimately, the choice between these two boats will depend on the sailor's preference, experience level, and specific sailing requirements.

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In the sailing world, speed is a crucial factor that determines the success of a race. When it comes to comparing the racing performance of the Laser Pico and the Sunfish, there are various aspects to consider. Both boats have their strengths and weaknesses, and understanding them can help sailors make an informed decision.

When assessing the speed of a sailing boat, factors such as hull design, sail area, and weight play a vital role. The Laser Pico and the Sunfish have distinct characteristics that set them apart in terms of performance on the racecourse.

One aspect that significantly affects the speed of a boat is its hull design. The Laser Pico features a modern, planing hull, which allows it to glide smoothly through the water. This design enables the Laser Pico to reach higher speeds and maintain them more efficiently. On the other hand, the Sunfish has a more traditional design with a rounded hull, which may cause more drag and slow it down.

Sail area is another critical factor to consider. The Laser Pico has a larger sail area compared to the Sunfish. The increased sail area gives the Laser Pico an advantage in terms of acceleration and top speed. The Sunfish, with its smaller sail area, may struggle to keep up with the Laser Pico in stronger winds.

Weight distribution and overall weight also have an impact on racing performance. The Laser Pico features a self-draining cockpit that helps maintain an optimal weight distribution. This allows the boat to remain balanced and perform better in varying wind conditions. The Sunfish, on the other hand, requires manual bailing, which can affect its stability and speed.

In terms of overall speed, the Laser Pico tends to outperform the Sunfish due to its modern hull design, larger sail area, and better weight distribution. However, it is important to note that the skill of the sailor also plays a crucial role in racing performance. A skilled sailor can maximize the potential of any boat and achieve better speeds compared to an inexperienced sailor.

To further illustrate the speed difference, let's consider a scenario where both boats are racing in moderate winds. The Laser Pico, with its planing hull and larger sail area, can quickly accelerate and reach higher speeds than the Sunfish. The Laser Pico's ability to maintain these speeds and maneuver efficiently gives it a significant advantage over the Sunfish in terms of racing performance.

In conclusion, when it comes to racing performance, the Laser Pico is generally considered faster than the Sunfish. Its modern hull design, larger sail area, and better weight distribution give it the edge over the Sunfish. However, it is important to note that the skill of the sailor also plays a crucial role in racing success. Choosing the right boat for racing depends on various factors, and sailors should consider their own abilities and preferences when making a decision.

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When it comes to sailing, speed is crucial. The ability to reach high velocities can mean the difference between a successful race and being left in the wake of your competitors. While both the Laser Pico and the Sunfish are known for their maneuverability and speed, there are a few factors that can affect their performance on the water.

Wind is arguably the most important factor when it comes to sailboat speed. The strength and direction of the wind can greatly impact how fast a Laser Pico or Sunfish can go. In general, these boats are designed to perform well in a wide range of wind conditions, making them versatile options for sailors. However, they do have certain ideal wind ranges where they excel. For example, the Laser Pico tends to perform best in 8 to 15 knots of wind, while the Sunfish is known for its ability to sail well in light wind conditions.

The weight of the sailor can also play a role in boat speed. In lighter wind conditions, a heavier sailor may have an advantage as they can generate more power to propel the boat forward. On the other hand, in stronger winds, a lighter sailor may be able to handle the boat more effectively, resulting in higher speeds. It's important for sailors to find the right balance for their body type and the prevailing wind conditions.

Another factor to consider is the trim of the sail. The way the sail is set can greatly affect the speed of the boat. Sail trim refers to the position of the sail relative to the wind direction and strength. Properly trimming the sail can help maximize the power generated by the wind and allow the boat to achieve higher speeds. Experienced sailors know how to adjust the sail trim based on the wind conditions and their desired speed.

The condition of the hull and the rigging can also impact boat speed. A clean and smooth hull can reduce drag, allowing the boat to glide through the water more efficiently. Regular maintenance and cleaning of the hull can help ensure optimal performance. Additionally, properly tensioned rigging is crucial for maximizing the power transmitted from the sail to the boat. Loose or incorrectly tensioned rigging can result in power loss and decreased speed.

In conclusion, there are several conditions and factors that can affect the speed of a Laser Pico or a Sunfish. The strength and direction of the wind, the weight of the sailor, the trim of the sail, and the condition of the hull and rigging all play a role in determining how fast the boat can go. By understanding and optimizing these factors, sailors can maximize the speed and performance of these sailboats.

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Frequently asked questions.

The Laser Pico and a Sunfish are both popular sailing boats, but when it comes to speed, the Sunfish has the edge. The Sunfish is known for its simplicity and lightweight design, allowing it to reach higher speeds compared to the Laser Pico.

Yes, the Laser Pico is generally slower than a Sunfish. While the Laser Pico is a versatile and beginner-friendly sailboat, it does not have the same speed potential as the Sunfish. The Sunfish's design allows it to glide through the water with less resistance, resulting in faster speeds.

While the Laser Pico may not be as fast as a Sunfish, it can still keep up in certain conditions. The Laser Pico's versatility and stability make it a great choice for beginners and recreational sailors. In lighter winds, both boats can have similar speeds, allowing the Laser Pico to keep up with a Sunfish.

The speed of a sailboat like the Laser Pico or Sunfish is determined by various factors. These include the wind strength and direction, the sail trim and shape, the weight of the sails, the weight distribution in the boat, and the skill of the sailor. While the Sunfish is generally faster due to its design, the sail trim and the abilities of the sailor can have a significant impact on the speed of either boat.

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Differences in hull Phantom vs Sunfish

  • Thread starter powergroove
  • Start date Aug 24, 2010
  • Aug 24, 2010



I have a line on a cheap Phantom, but dont know the difference between the 2. It will be the wifey's boat, so racing is not a must, just need to know if daggers are interchangeable. Any hull differneces also? Thanks!  

  • Aug 25, 2010

Phantom Hull is wider, lighter, and more freeboard in front part hull. When look closely you can see Phantom hull sides are not that vertical compare to sunfish. The typical one-piece construction deck-cockpit (like Laser) force sailer sit a little farther from the center. Also Phantom's sail is little bigger.  


Upside down?

Earlier this year, 67stang wrote (see I enjoy the Phantom as much as my, (old 64), Sunfish. I find the Phantom to have a bigger cockpit, allowing 2 adults to sail fairly comfortable, where as the Sunfish has enough room for 1 adult and maybe a child. More in general, as I recall, the Phantom was advertised as an improved version of the Sunfish, and for a while, it may have been, with the rolled edges and a more powerful sail. Subsequently, the Sunfish was updated to remain competitive.  


Member Emeritus

Wavedancer said: More in general, as I recall, the Phantom was advertised as an improved version of the Sunfish, and for a while, it may have been, with the rolled edges and a more powerful sail. Subsequently, the Sunfish was updated to remain competitive. Click to expand...


  • Aug 26, 2010


On the Water

One thing you might want to look at. There is an inpection port in front of the daggerboard slot. Check to make sure the foam blocks are still in place, I have a couple of pieces that are detached. I took it out a while ago in some heavy air, and the deck split from the hull in 3 places. I'm using a Sunfish sail (no logo) on my Phantom. I've never taken the time to actually measure if the is a difference in size. As far as daggerboards go, I'm using a Scorpion daggerboard, so a Sunfish daggerboard should work fine. Rudders are not interchangeable.  

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The Sunfish combines easy rigging and manageability for a comfortable and hassle-free sailing experience. This is the sailboat loved by all. Designed in 1952 as the ultimate beach craft, the Sunfish sailboat is still a favourite with all ages. This maintenance free boat holds its resale value thanks to its robust construction, highlighted by hard chines and a flat underbody. The Sunfish can be stored almost anywhere and is a snap to car-top, making it a popular international class and easy to transport to your favourite beach for family fun.

sunfish sailboat vs laser

The Sunfish has its roots planted firmly in 1947 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Friends Alexander “Al” Bryan and Cortlandt “Cort” Heyniger (the Al and Cort in Alcort) pondered, “How to put a sail on a surfboard?” The answer involved a rejected design for American Red Cross waterfront rescue surfboards, leading to the Sailfish – a lateen rigged, flat-decked, plywood marvel. In 1951, Bryan’s pregnant wife found its flat deck somewhat uncomfortable. The addition of a cockpit and widening of the hull created the Sunfish. The logo was created by Heyniger, who traced a nickel and added fins, the tail and an eye. Early wood Sailfish and Sunfish were available assembled or as kits. In 1959 the introduction of fiberglass and the low cost and ease of production led to the proliferation of Sunfish everywhere. Other improvements included aluminium spars replacing spruce, Dacron sails replacing cotton, ash replacing mahogany for tillers, resulting in increased speed, performance and reliability. Sunfish racing started almost as quickly as two or three boats came together – the first North American Championship was 1963, the first Midwinters was 1965.

sunfish sailboat vs laser

1 Hull – 2 Versions

Race – A strict one design international sail class

  • Adjustable downhaul
  • Adjustable outhaul
  • Performance ratchet block
  • Performance sailcloth

Recreational – For the ones exclusively looking for the pleasure of sailing a extremely simple and fun dinghy

  • Colourful sails
  • Even more simple to rig
  • Reduced time to water
  • Sailing made simple

sunfish sailboat vs laser

The Sunfish is a sailing icon

One of sailing’s best-known brands, it is unmatched in simplicity and performance making it popular for all ages and abilities. With more than 60 years in production and sailed by celebrities such as the Kennedy and Paul McCartney, the Sunfish is the most popular sailboat in history.


sunfish sailboat vs laser

60 ft 2 5.58 m 2

sunfish sailboat vs laser

13.9 FT 4.24M

sunfish sailboat vs laser

4.1 FT 1.25 M

sunfish sailboat vs laser

2.11 FT 0.64 M

sunfish sailboat vs laser


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sunfish sailboat vs laser



sunfish sailboat vs laser

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  1. Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish?

    A Laser and a Sunfish are not entirely different since they are made of the same materials and are about the same size. A Laser sailboat is great for newbies or even children wanting to learn how to sail. Out of the two, it is more nimble and has a better chance at going faster while sailing. As for the Sunfish, it has similarities compared to ...

  2. Laser or Sunfish

    torrid. Just sailing. Sunfish sailors may disagree, but the general impression is the Laser is for racing and the Sunfish is for recreational sailing. There are many, many keen Sunfish racers though, and many people sail Lasers just for fun. Since you are a big guy, I can think of one reason why you may want a Sunfish.

  3. Racing Question

    Yes, Lasers point higher. Lasers are unquestionably faster than Sunfish except in drifters or if it blowing about 25 (when it is blowing 25 good Laser sailors are still going faster than a Sunfish can go, but most Laser sailors are not physical enough and a Sunfish will go faster than they can sail their Laser.) Jun 20, 2011.

  4. laser vs sunfish

    The sunfish is more "accessible" -- less physically demanding, fewer adjustments to make, fewer parts to rig and unrig. Practically anyone, even small kids, can jump on one and sail it. The laser is faster and more exciting to sail, more physically demanding, requires more adjustments, has more parts to rig and unrig, and smaller, lighter, less ...

  5. Laser Sailboat and Sunfish Sailboats

    The hull is lightweight and easy to lift, many owners just pop it on top of the car and head for the water. Races are held with Sunfish, although most any sailor will tell you that it is more of a recreational sailboat compared to it's Laser (speed racer) cousin. Here's a quick video that shows off these cool boats: Will and Ellie enter the ...

  6. Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance-Sailing Dinghies

    The Laser rig is more efficient, but when caught out in a squall, its nice to be able to ease the halyard and dump the sail. Its also handy to be able to leave the boat tethered to a mooring, and the doused sail and short mast make it possible. ... Multiple generations of sailors are often found sailing Sunfish, and the boat represents one of ...

  7. Sunfish vs. Laser, please advise

    The Sunfish is a much more stable and forgiving boat than the Laser. It might be a bit much for the younger kids, but the 16 year olds should be able to handle it just fine. Aug 7, 2012. #4.

  8. First Boat: Sunfish vs. Laser

    49208. Both have their pluses and minuses. Sunfish is faster to rig, more forgiving dragging on the beach, more stable downwind and lets you rig the sail up high so getting knocked on the head is not a problem. Laser has bigger cockpit ( minus with a lady/plus with buddies ) , feels better sailing upwind in waves.

  9. LaserPerformance versus Sunfish Class

    LaserPerformance is best known as the manufacturer of the Sunfish and Laser - the two most notable recreational singlehanders in sailing. But as the sole manufacturer of these boats since its ...

  10. Sunfish vs. Laser : r/sailing

    Laser is faster but while easy to set up, isnt as easy as the sunfish. Sunfish is ready by pulling your sail up, pop the rudder down, and you're off. Laser is a ton of fun but is more expensive and takes a bit more effoet to set up. Also nothing runs quite like a sunfish. 3.

  11. Sunfish and Laser Sailing in COLD Weather

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  12. Laser vs. Zuma

    The Zuma was developed by AMF as the sloop rigged poor cousin to the Sunfish and can't hold a candle to a Laser. It is extremely unbalanced and really sails upwind like crap. If you are going to throw it on a small lake and reach back and forth in 10 knots of breeze it will be fine otherwise keep looking for a Laser... Apr 28, 2006.

  13. Sunfish Class versus LaserPerformance >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

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  14. Comparing Speed: Laser Pico Vs. Sunfish

    In terms of top speed, the Laser Pico is generally considered to be faster than the Sunfish. The Laser Pico is an agile boat that is designed for racing, with a high-performance hull shape that allows it to reach higher speeds. Its lightweight construction and sleek design help it cut through the water with ease, allowing it to sail at faster ...

  15. small boat sailors: do you enjoy sailing sunfish or lasers ...

    With a hobie you have to raise the mast and connect stays. Connect sail to halyard. With laser you put the mast pieces together, slide on sail and stick it in the hole. Easier IMO. I think laser cockpit is more comfortable than sunfish or hobie. Better place to put your legs.

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  17. Differences in hull Phantom vs Sunfish

    taobsu1. Phantom Hull is wider, lighter, and more freeboard in front part hull. When look closely you can see Phantom hull sides are not that vertical compare to sunfish. The typical one-piece construction deck-cockpit (like Laser) force sailer sit a little farther from the center. Also Phantom's sail is little bigger.

  18. Branching out to centerboards, Sunfish vs Laser? : r/sailing

    My club has an active Sunfish/Laser fleet that race every wednesday evening, so it would be a way to get more racing in without coordinating crew. ... Full is 180-185lb, any more than that and you're dogshit downwind, less than that you'd better be 5'10"+ to hike the boat flat. Sunfish have a little wider range, somewhere in the mid-130's to ...

  19. Sunfish (sailboat)

    The Sunfish is a personal-size, beach-launched sailing dinghy.It features a very flat, boardlike hull carrying an Oceanic lateen sail mounted to an un-stayed mast.. Sunfish was developed by Alcort, Inc. and first appeared around 1952 as the "next generation" improvement on their original boat, the Sailfish.In contrast, the Sunfish has a wider beam for more stability, increased freeboard and ...

  20. Sunfish

    The Sunfish combines easy rigging and manageability for a comfortable and hassle-free sailing experience. This is the sailboat loved by all. Designed in 1952 as the ultimate beach craft, the Sunfish sailboat is still a favourite with all ages. This maintenance free boat holds its resale value thanks to its robust construction, highlighted by hard chines and a flat underbody.


    1991 - 1997 Sunfish/Laser, Inc. 1997 - 2007 Vanguard 2007 - Laser Performance ... The boat is better suited for ocean passages (vs coastal cruising) if the result of the calculation is 2.0 or less. The lower the better. CSF = Beam/Disp (cubic ft)^.333. The displacement in cubic feet can be found by dividing the displacement in pounds by 64.

  22. Small sail boats Sunfish vs laser vs butterfly vs snark : r/sailing

    I agree with you that the Laser is probably more tender (tippy). I would say it is because it is a round bottom versus the hard chine of a sunfish (source- growing up sailing a Laser and a hard-chined boat like a sunfish, similar beams). Got a chuckle from your comment about swimming, but I just wouldn't say that makes it a bad first boat.