Over 200,000 Laser sailboats have been built over the last 40 years, more than most other small dinghy sailboats. In this article we are going to answer one of the most common questions we get: What size rig do I have? This will help answer what size sail and/or rig you already have and what size sail and/or rig you need to purchase to update your Laser.
What size rig / sail do I have? Standard vs. Radial vs 4.7 Explained
The Laser sailboat has had a number of different rig sizes, with the intention of making the boat sailable by a wide range of sailors (and different sailor weights) by simply swapping out the lower mast section and sail while keeping all other components the same. There are currently three different rig sizes and they are commonly referred to as 'Standard', 'Radial' and '4.7'. Below you will find an image that shows the three rigs side by side, and in the following section we'll explain each one.
Laser Standard / MK2 / ILCA 7
This is the most common Laser rig size, and the original rig on the boat when it was designed. It features a 7.06 square meter sail (about 76 square feet). In 2018, the Laser Class approved a new 'Standard' sail, which is referred to as the 'MKII' or 'Mark 2' to distinguish it from the first version. The difference, among other things, is in the panels. The original 'Standard' sail featured horizontal cut panels. The new MkII sail has radial cut panels. There is no difference in size between these two versions, and as of 2020 all new Laser Standard sails are available in this updated cut.
How to tell if you have a 'Standard' sail: The first and most obvious way to tell if you have a 'Standard' sail is to look at the panels. If they are horizontal, it is most likely a standard sail. Next, you can measure the luff (the front edge of the sail along the mast sleeve). This measurement should be about 5130 mm or 200 inches from the top of the sail to the bottom.
How to tell if you have a 'Standard' lower mast section: The 'Standard' lower mast section should measure about 2865 mm or 113 inches. It is a fairly stout mast section compared to the two smaller mast sections.
Laser Radial / ILCA 6
Originally called the 'M' rig when first designed, the Laser 'Radial' sail is smaller than the 'Standard' sail at 5.76 square meters (62 square feet). At the time, it was the only Laser sail to feature the radial cut panels, which allowed the sail to be de-powered more easily in bigh winds. Per the notes about the 'Standard' rig above, both the Standard and Radial sail feature the radial cut design. Another typical indicator of a Radial size sail are the blue panels at the tack and clew of the sail.
How to tell if you have a 'Radial' sail: The first and most obvious way to tell if you have a 'Standard' sail is to look at the panels. If they are radial, as in emanating out from the center, it is most likely a radial sail. Next, you can measure the luff (the front edge of the sail along the mast sleeve). This measurement should be about 4560 mm or 180 inches from the top of the sail to the bottom.
How to tell if you have a 'Radial' lower mast section: The 'Radial' lower mast section should measure about 2262 mm or 89 inches. It is also a bit smaller in diameter than the standard section.
Laser 4.7 / ILCA 5
The Laser 4.7 (or ILCA 5) is the smallest of the three Laser sails and was designed for young sailors just getting into Laser sailing. The 4.7 lower mast section is also different from the others in that is has a pre-bend near the boom fitting, allowing the sail to depower much easier. This is the least common Laser sail size, and if you have an old one around, chances are it is not a 4.7 sail.
How to tell if you have a '4.7' sail: The 4.7 is similar to the old 'Standard' sail as it has cross cut panels. Many 4.7 sails also have an obvious 4.7 logo somewhere on the cloth. Next, you can measure the luff (the front edge of the sail along the mast sleeve). This measurement should be about 4080 mm or 160 inches from the top of the sail to the bottom.
How to tell if you have a '4.7' lower mast section: The '4.7 lower mast section has a pre-bend in it and should measure about 1810 mm or 71 inches. The bend is the easiest way to tell it apart from the others.