Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish?

Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

Solo sailing for races requires a fast boat, with two models coming to mind. You might be wondering, is a Laser faster than a Sunfish?

Both of those sailboats provide an enjoyable ride, are fast, and have their positives. But which one is faster when it matters the most?

Laser sailboats are faster than Sunfishes and are easier to handle out of the two. Professional sailors often race with a Laser since its design allows it more speed for its size. As for Sunfishes, they are lightweight and fast, but they are more of a recreational boat.

If you were trying to purchase one of the two for everyday use, the Sunfish is a great option. But if you want an opportunity to win races with a similar boat size, then a Laser is your best bet.

According to experts in the industry, the Laser is by far the faster boat of the two. In fact, they use the Laser in Olympic races and continue to plan ahead with the schedule with that particular boat.


Table of contents

Differences Between a Laser and Sunfish

A Laser and a Sunfish are not entirely different since they are made of the same materials and are about the same size. A Laser sailboat is great for newbies or even children wanting to learn how to sail. Out of the two, it is more nimble and has a better chance at going faster while sailing.

As for the Sunfish, it has similarities compared to a Laser. However, it is best reserved to be a recreational boat instead of a racer. While the Laser is easier to handle, the Sunfish is not that bad to handle either.

If you want speed, the Laser is by far the faster boat if the two were to go head to head. Assuming the person sailing both boats are professionals, the Laser handles upwind much better and will dominate in a head to head competition against a Sunfish.

Buy a Sunfish or a Laser?

There are a few factors that come into play for purchasing either a Sunfish or a Laser. It is completely understandable if you find a good deal on either one and decide to go for that option, but you must figure out your sailing goals.

Your sailing goals, whether it is to have a good time or to race, need to be addressed before you make a final decision. Both boats are designed for specific purposes, so it is important to know what you want and why.

Best for Newbies or Children

If you have a small child or someone that wants to learn how to sail, then the Laser is the best option. Lasers allow the perfect setting to get started with sailing since they are lightweight and easy to operate.

With the Sunfish, this boat is best for one person navigating the other just enjoying the ride. While not complicated to operate a Sunfish, the Laser is just easier. The Laser is slightly wider than a Sunfish by about five inches, so an extra person on board might be easier to handle here.

More Stability

While this should not be alarming for these types of sailboats, you are going to get wet. In fact, both these boats are considered “wet boats” since you are just inches away from the water and you have the chance of capsizing.

On a majority of boats, this is bad news. However, capsizing on a dinghy is part of the process when trying to learn how to race them.

If you do capsize, do not worry about your boat. They both have self-bailing systems in place to help remove water from the cockpit.

Lasers can be a bit touchy when trying to navigate since they respond with weight shifts in the boat. Even though they can be easier to navigate, you are likely to capsize more often in these than a Sunfish.

Sunfish boats are less likely to capsize since their design is meant to be recreational, whereas the Laser is a racer and is capable of this more often. If you want more time enjoying the sun while sailing, the Sunfish is better in this regard.

Overall Cost

Finding a good deal on either sailboat is part of the process and could make the biggest impact on your decision. Your sailing goals are a priority when making a decision about what works best for you, but the price is also important to consider.

A brand new Sunfish can range up to $5,500 for their performance package, while other models cost about $4,000. If you find a used one, these can range between $500 to $2,000 depending on condition and age.

A brand new Laser can range up to $5,800, with some packages offering around $5,100. A used one is likely the best for any budget, as these vary between $1,500 and $3,000 based on condition.

When looking at a used version of either boat, you want to make sure the hull is in good shape with very few imperfections. It needs to be firm, without any soft spots, or you risk it taking on water in the future.

While this will be difficult to potentially get an honest answer for a used version, you need to ask how the boat was stored when not in use. The best way to keep it in its condition is when it is dry and covered. If the boat has been in the water for some time in the elements, it could potentially gain weight and fall apart later after use.

You need to check the weight of the used boat you are purchasing too. Both the Sunfish and Laser have weights of about 130 pounds.

In addition, the condition of the sails needs to be considered before buying. New Laser sails can cost up to $700, while new sails on the Sunfish vary around $450.

As you can see, both sailboats can be afforded if your budget is in shape. They both cover the same areas in price, so it likely does not matter a lot when trying to buy one unless you find a good deal.

Ease of Use

Both sailboats are simple and easy to use, with some exceptions. Both have different amounts of sail controls to operate but are still easy to use.

The Sunfish is a straightforward operation with just a few controls to play with. This makes it one of the more popular boats to exist as a recreational dinghy.

For the Laser, it usually has around five different controls to mess with and can be overwhelming at first for a small child. However, it is easy to learn and anyone can catch on quickly.

No matter which one you choose, they both make it easy to operate. You just need to see which one fits your style of sailing.


Both the Sunfish and Laser are made out of fiberglass, so you do not have to worry about wood being the base of the boat. With that said, there are not really any differences to what each boat is made of.

The part that matters is the condition of the boat if you decide to buy one used. Fiberglass is easier to clean and maintain, but you need to know how to work on it if you find one that needs repairs.

Setup Times

Both boats are easy to set up in and out of the water. By just a few minutes, the Sunfish is slightly easier to get going versus the Laser.

It takes roughly 20 minutes to get everything going for the Laser, assuming you have a routine down. If you want to save a few minutes of time preparing for your sailing trip, the Sunfish is the slightly better option.

Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish?
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish?

Is a Laser Sailboat Faster Than a Sunfish?
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy