Laser Cruising
There is no class association for the Laser 13 and 16 dinghies, though some people do race them under locally-agreed arrangements.
  LASER 16 LASER 13
Year Designed 1986 1989
Length: 5m / 16ft 5in 4.05m / 13ft 4in
Beam: 2m / 6ft 7in 1.72m / 5ft 8in
Hull Weight 250kg / 550lb 136kg / 300lb
Mainsail 10.7sq m / 115sq ft 7.3sq m / 79sq ft
Furling jib 3.3sq m / 36sq ft 2sq m / 22sq ft
Symmetric spinnaker 11.1sq m / 120sq ft 10.5sq m / 113sq ft
Optimum crew weight ? 22st / 140kg
Suggested PN 1066 1130~1135

Manuals for the Laser 13 and the Laser 16
These are available in PDF form on this Laser website: Laser 16 click here, Laser 13 click here. Please let me know if the link is broken: Laser have a habit of rebuilding their websites and leaving everyone's bookmarks dangling.

Information about magazine reviews of the boats

Replacement sails

From time to time people contact me asking where they might obtain replacement sails for their Laser 13 or Laser 16. There are two possibilities that I know of in the UK:

1. Ultimate Sails in Southampton advertise making Laser 13 and Laser 16 sails. You can find their Laser 13 sails listed here. You can find their Laser 16 sails listed here.

2. Cygnus in Northamptonshire also advertise Laser 13 sails. You can find their Laser 13 mainsail here and Laser 13 jib here.

I do not know whether Cygnus are able to make up Laser 16 sails but they do mention repairs so it might be worth an enquiry to them.

I do not have the actual specifications for any of the sails beyond the sail areas listed above and the information given in the manuals (links above). For what it is worth my original Laser 13 jib measures 375cm x 350cm x 115cm as accurately as I can tell - but dimensions in plan form are one thing, making an actual sail is quite another!


Information about sail numbers

It used to be possible to go to the Laser website, input a sail number and be given the date of manufacture of that boat. Sadly this excellent facility was one of the casualties of the Laser website makeover.

I wrote to them in September 2008 to enquire whether it was possible to get hold of a list of sail numbers - which must have existed - and even offered to host it. I had a reply from their then Global Web Executive (the individual has since moved on) who said at the time: "I'm still trying to find out that information myself. I'll do my best to send you an email when I learn more about how the feature worked and if a database exists of the numbers."

Having heard nothing I wrote to her again in May 2009. She replied: "This is not something I have access to or that we're available [sic] to provide a feature for at this time. If you let me know which boat it was and sail number, I would be happy to try and research the information for you."

So you can always try contacting Laser Performance; let me know if you have any luck.


Laser 13 Extended Outboard Bracket

Illustrated information about a design for a better outboard mount for the Laser 13.


Laser 13 Topping Lift

Illustrated information about a non-standard topping lift on a Laser 13.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Laser 13 and 16 dinghies

Please note: information and suggestions are provided here in good faith based on owners' experiences. Your own may differ: each sailor is responsible for the safety of his or her own craft and crew.

Q. I'm a beginner, how easy are the boats to sail?
A. The Laser 13 and 16 have been popular boats with sailing schools and holiday companies because they are easy to sail. The furling jib and slab reefing main make it easy to reduce the sail in stronger conditions and the broad hull and heavy alloy centreboard make the boat more stable than many in gusty conditions. Often these are the first boats people have owned.

Q . How many people will they carry?
A. The Laser 13 will carry four adults but for regular use it is more comfortable with a maximum of three, or two adults and two children. The Laser 16 will carry six or seven adults - more if needed.

Q . Are they easy to launch and recover?
A. The Laser 13 is easy to launch and recover from a standard trolley and is manageable even by one person, while it is light enough to be lifted by three people. At nearly 17 feet long, the Laser 16 is somewhat heavier and requires a small winch on the trolley to snug it into place when recovering from the water. Both the trolley / trailer combination and the single trailer options on this boat work very well in practice. The boats are well balanced on their trailers so that most weight is carried by the wheels. This makes the weight at the tow hook quite low so that loaded trailers are easily manhandled. Both boats can be left on a mooring as an alternative to launching every day.

Q . What are they like in a seaway, how stable are they?
A. People have used the boats around the coast to cruise distances of 20 miles a day or more and in quite wet conditions. The boats' self draining is excellent so that swamping is never a concern. In gusts, the boats heel relatively slowly because of their beam and heavy alloy centre plate, giving the crew plenty of time to hike out or ease sheets. In waves of more than about four feet, the 13 has to be sailed a little freer of the wind because it is slowed and knocked off course; the heavier 16 can plough on. Both boats go over rather than through the waves. Reefing at sea is perfectly possible and quite simple to achieve. When reefed down, the boats will get you home even if the conditions have deteriorated.

Q . How easy is it to recover from a capsize?
A. Straightforward in the 13; the manufacturer puts a caution note in the 16's manual that, being a substantial craft, it requires 22st (140kg) total crew weight for most righting procedures. Make sure the sheets are not cleated, sling the jib sheet over the gunwale and use that to pull the boat back up again:recovering an inverted Laser 16
   Image: Laser UK

Initially, the centre plate is quite high out of the water and the jib sheet gives you another hand-hold to help you to reach it. Scooping the crew in works very well, alternatively, boarding the boats over the transom is easy in lighter winds. Best of all, when you climb into the boats they will be quite dry inside.

» One owner has written an illustrated article about the Laser 13 capsize procedure.

Q. Can you reef on the water?
A. Yes. It's best to do it on port tack, either hove-to or luffing into the wind. Ease the kicker, and pull in the reefing line which will raise the boom. Move the Cunningham up to the next cringle and ease the main halyard while pulling the cringle down to the boom with the Cunningham. That's it. If you want to tidy the sail away, a few shock cords hold it in place; we find that the 13's sail sets better if the shock cords just go round the sail and not around the boom.

Q. Do I need to use both bolts at the mast foot of a 13?
A. No. It has been found that the rivets tend to work loose if both bolts are used. To allow for a degree of freedom just use the rear one.

Q. How much will the locker hold?
A . A 13 will hold a four man ridge tent, three sleeping bags, three karrymats, clothes and food for a couple of days. Alternatively, you can just about fit in a 2hp outboard. The 16 will hold all the above plus a crate of beer and the kitchen sink.

Q . Self draining?
A. See above, brilliant and terribly important when you have a long way to go and the weather's getting worse.

Q. Towability?
A. Members of the UK-based former Laser Cruising Association sailed in England, Scotland and Wales, the Irish Republic, the Netherlands and France; boats were towed thousands of miles, over hills, mountains and several ferries. You can also pack a serious amount of camping gear in the lockers so that your car is not too full. It's also easy to rig a smaller Laser on top of the boat, or lash a canoe next to the mast. Push chairs or buggies fit in the cockpit.

Q. Single handed?
A. Both boats can be rigged single handed, although raising the mast is easier with a helper. Sailing single handed is great fun with a livelier performance and more 'strings' to play with. You can always furl the jib and just sail with the main alone.

Q. Can you fit a spinnaker?
A . The symmetric spinnaker kit is easily added and many secondhand boats will already have spinnakers. They are easy to fly and add significantly to the speed and fun of the boats.

Q. What about motoring?
A. The 16 takes a 4hp outboard and the 13 a 2 or 2.5hp. Motoring can be great fun when the wind has dropped or in the canals of Holland, for example. Lower a bit of centre plate to prevent skidding sideways. The 16 can be sailed with the outboard on, the 13 can too but is a bit cluttered on the transom with the outboard on so it is best to sail with it off.

Q. .... and rowing?
A. The rowing kit on the 13 works well, the 16 is too broad to be rowed. Use the reefing line to raise the boom over the oarsman's head.

Q . What is the build quality like?
A. Very solid with good attention to detail. You can stand in the boat while it is on the trolley without any fear of damage, all the deck surfaces are finished in a very effective non slip grip, extensive buoyancy has been built in to make the boat unsinkable.


Magazine articles

Some of the yachting magazines published articles of review when the boats were first available. These are copyright so we cannot make them available here but you might be able to order back copies from the publishers:

Practical Boat Owner
- Laser 16 "Laser's family fun boat" December 1987
- Laser 13 boat test 1992

Yachts and Yachting wrote about the Laser 13 in May 1990.


© new content 2007-2016 Gary Eason; legacy content author unknown (former Laser Cruising Assoc material)