The boat’s long history started with a phone call between Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce. While discussing the possibility of a car-topped dinghy (a boat small enough to be carried on a roof rack of a typical car) for a line of camping equipment, Bruce Kirby sketched what would be known as “the million dollar doodle”. The plans stayed with Kirby until 1970 when One Design and Offshore Yachtsman magazine held a regatta for boats under $1000, called “America’s Teacup”. After a few sail modifications, the Laser easily won its class.
The prototype was originally named the “Weekender”; the sail held the letters TGIF, a common American abbreviation for Thank God It´s Friday”. It was renamed Laser and officially unveiled at the New York Boat Show in 1971.
The Laser became a men’s ”Olympic Games” Olympic class boat in 1996, and a special Olympic edition of the boat was released that year in commemoration. A version with a smaller sail, the ”Laser Radial”, became the women’s Olympic-class boat in 2008.
The first world championship was held in 1974 in Bermuda. Entrants came from 24 countries, and first place was won by Peter Commette from the United States. The greatest champion of the Laser Class is “Robert Scheidt” from Brazil; he won the world championship eight times and won two gold and one silver Olympic medals.
The class was created as a strict one design dinghy where the true test, when raced, is between sailors and not the boats and equipment. The fundamental principle of the Laser rules is that you cannot change anything unless it is specifically permitted by the rules to do so. The class has actively rejected any suggestions to change or “improve” equipment so that the similarity of all boats is maintained and costs of competing are kept low. The strength and absence of any flexibility in the Fundamental Rule of the Laser class has enabled the class to grow at a rate unsurpassed by any other dinghy.
The Laser Formula is a three rig option (4.7, Radial and full rig). By changing only the sail and lower mast section, the Laser can be sailed comfortably in all wind conditions for any sailor weighing as little as 35kg.