What is a laser? A Laser is a sailing dinghy designed by Bruce Kirby in 1969. Since then a lot has changed, although the basic deign is much the same.
The builder for many years was Performance Sailcraft, buy they had a falling out with Bruce Kirby with regards to royalty fees. ILCA is the International Laser Class Association, the class governing body. The ILCA is recognised as the Laser Class association by World Sailing, the international governing body for the sport of sailing. Due to issues with ‘Laser’ branding class compliant equipment is now marked as ‘ILCA’, which basically means it can be used at Laser events. ILCA has recently (2020) gone through a process of approving various builders for class compliant hulls. Included are Ovington (UK), Devoti (Czech), RioTecna (Argentina) and Nautivela (Italy). Having a range of different class approved builders will hopefully help to improve the costs of owning the boat while maintaining quality.
The Laser is not regarded as a very expensive boat to own and race. The most expensive part which will need replaced at regular intervals is the sail. At the time of writing a standard sail will cost around £550, second hand sails are available at reduced cost, replica sails are also available at discounted prices. Many of the replica sails are good quality, and many clubs will allow competitors to take part with these sails for club racing. You will not be able to use replica sails in national championships though. If in doubt get in touch with the race committee before you arrive at the event.
You don’t need to worry too much about whether your equipment is marked as ILCA or Laser, they both amount to the same thing, you have access to a fairly solid class that provides good competitive racing throughout the world.
As far as handicap racing goes the Laser Portsmouth Yardstick values for 2020 are:
Laser Radial 1147
Laser 4.7 1208
These values compare with other classes:
Laser EPS 1033*
*The Laser EPS is a singlehander with a narrower hull and more powerful rig than the Laser.