Certainly the skipper that we sailed against was not terribly experienced at heavy air sailing, but he frequently had the boat''s former owner on board, and he was a very experienced skipper, so I can''t totally blame their poor heavy air performance on the new owner. I suspect a big part of the problem was crew weight - as you know the J/30 will go to weather like a freight train with 6 or 7 guys on the rail. The laser usually struggled to get 4 or 5 people on board for a race, so that was to their disadvantage in the heavy stuff for certain. And of course crew weight worked to our disadvantage in the light stuff, along with the fact that we owed them time.
My comment on the build quality of the boats was based (perhaps incorrectly) on 2 factors - these guys frequently broke stuff in any kind of breeze, and one other Laser which came to town for a regatta had deck gear that (IMHO) was more suited to a 22-footer. Having said that, they proceed to do a horizon job on most of the fleet in a 4-day light-air regatta, so I guess the gear was good enough for what they needed.
Thanks for the history lesson, Jeff. I didn''t mean to trash the Lasers. I was just expressing an opinion based on what I have seen and the prevailing conditions here in Nova Scotia.
YMMV (and it obviously did)