The Laser class of sailboat is a small, single-handled racing boat. Canadians Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce accidentally designed the boat while attempting to make a car-top dinghy to take camping, but it gained no notoriety beyond the duo. Then in 1970, the Laser was entered in “Americas Teacup,” a regatta held by One Design and Offshore Yachtsman magazine for boats under one thousand dollars. When the Laser won the event handily, a phenomenon was born.
After winning “Americas Teacup,” the Laser went into its prototype stage, taking the name, TGIF, or Thank God It’s Friday. Its official unveiling was at the 1971 New York Boat Show, where it assumed its Laser moniker. The first official Laser World Championship was held in Bermuda in 1974, with entrants from 24 different countries. Peter Commette of the United States took first place. By 1996, the boat had become a men’s Olympic-class vessel, and in 2008 Olympian women started racing a modified Laser, the Laser Radial.
Today, the Laser dominates the international sailing scene, with over two hundred thousand boat in one hundred forty countries. The international Laser Class Association, or ILCA, is the governing body for Laser boat racers, acting like a worldwide sailing club. Members can join their local Laser district to become an ILCA member and learn more about ILCA events, or connect with other local Laser enthusiasts.
Yearly Laser World Championships are held at different venues around the world, with each year new applicants having a fair chance at hosting the event. Racing classes can include men’s and women’s; Laser standard, Laser radial, Laser 4.7, and Laser masters.
Each Laser boat is held to a specific rule set, ensuring that every boat is identical, with no modifications unless explicitly approved by the rulebook. The strict specifications allow races to be determined on the sailor’s skill, rather than the boat’s design.
2016 Laser World Championships
The 2016 Laser World Championships is being held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Banderas Bay. The bay was chosen for its stable weather patterns and reliable sea conditions, mitigating variables as much as possible. The sailing course is located a short distance from Vallarta Yacht Club, the home base for this years world championship.
Banderas Bay has played host to several other international sailing events, including the 2007 J24 World Championships, and the 2014 Optimist North American Championships.
Accommodations for racers and spectators can be found at the Paradise Village Beach Resort and Spa, of which the VYC leases its space from. The resort boasts decadent restaurants, a gorgeous beachfront location, swimming pools, and full suites that are equipped with kitchens. It also includes sports facilities, featuring an eighteen-hole golf course and five tennis courts.
his year’s world championship for the standard division is set for May tenth through may eighteenth, with the trophy presentation and closing ceremony scheduled for the latter half of May eighteenth. The master division world championship will extend another week later, from May twentieth to May twenty-eighth. Follow the events on their social media for race updates and general information.