Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 240 Times in 191 Posts
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I owned a Laser 28 for roughly 14 years. I really loved the Laser 28. It was fast, easy to handle and a surprisingly comfortable coastal cruiser. The Laser 28 was a potent racer under PHRF, IMS, and MORC. During the time that I owned the Laser 28, I had the opportunity to sail her in a very wide range of conditions. I thought that the Laser 26 was a great daysailor, weekender, single-hander and race boat. My wife and I had cruised her for periods of 11 days or more in good comfort. She is an excellent light air boat with quite reasonable heavy air behavior. (We got caught out in winds that were pegged the anemometer of a nearby boat at 65 knots. It definitely was survival conditions, but the Laser 28 did very well, being able to beat away from a lee shore and claw its way out of the confines of a tight river under a double reefed mainsail.)
I thought that these boats were extremely well engineered and constructed. They were a very clever design where most of the interior components were non-structural allowing the boat to extremely easily maintained and updated. The boats were built in one of three ways. The first boats were polyester resin and Kevlar. At some point they were built using Vinylester resin and Kevlar (which is an amazingly rugged way to build a very light weight boat). The hulls and decks were produced using an interior and exterior mold into which the resin was injected and then vacuumed down, producing a very dense laminate and doing away with the need for liners. This saves a lot of weight and makes an easy to maintain boat.
The stock Laser 28 came with a very workable deck layout with all halyards lead aft. Because I single-handed so often, I modified mine so that I could both reefs in without leaving the cockpit. Although the gear looks light, it is proportionate to the weight of the boat and since the Laser 28 was conceived as a race boat for families, the loads on all of the control lines were quite light. I very much disagree with the idea that these are complex boats to sail. The boats came stock with all of the control lines that one would expect on a modern performance sailboat. The controls are extremely well laid out so that they are convenient to a race crew or a single-hander.
The fabric interiors were absolutely brilliant. They provided a lot of storage and could be taken home and washed at the end of the season. I found the interior extremely workable for a couple or single-hander.
The short comings on the boat is that they do require some skill to sail well, especially in gusty condition where they can be a little skittish until you get used to them. Once you learn how to sail them the steering is quite surgically precise. I would not say that these boats were tender but they carry a lot of sail area and so did not tolerate carrying too much sail. The fractional rig with adjustable backstay allows quick response to changing conditions. The Lasers were designed with a wonderful little lapper (109% Jib that was cut like the leading edge of a genoa) that was a great sail in winds from 3- 5 knots up to winds approaching 20 knots. Without crew weight on the rail, you will need to reef somewhere around 15-18 knots, at which point you have a very balanced masthead rigger.
I liked the little Buhk engine which was up to the task in almost all conditions, quite reliable, and easy to work on. I am not a huge fan of the saildrive because all routine maintenance on the sail drive requires the boat to be hauled. It meant that you had to haul out every other year, which was not the end of the world.
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