Friday, July 17, 2015

Kingston Pilgrimage

Today was a non-racing day and so I performed the pilgrimage to worship before the holy relic on display at the Marine Museum - Laser # 1.

On display is Bruce Kirby's own first Laser which debuted at the 1970 New York Boat Show where 400 were sold.  It is on loan from the Mystic Seaport Museum.

Overall, it looks a lot like today's Laser, although, just as with Tillerman's old Laser, the outhaul is simply a line from the clew to a cleat halfway down the boom and the vang was a fairly rudimentary affair.


  1. Yes, and the Elvstrom sail! My patch was red, as well as the hull, and it got nice and powdery like that one too.

  2. Fascinating.

    Weren't the blades originally varnished? Those ones seem to have been painted white later? Was it just paint or did it look like they had been "built up" at all?

    And it looks like the boom doesn't have that extra metal loop (or fabric loop on some boats) for the sheet which (usually) prevents the sheet from getting caught around your PFD or neck when you tack.

    Who stole Bruce's drain plug?

    1. Concerning the blades - the top parts are varnished and the bottoms appear to be painted over. I didn't notice any sign of a building up.

      And concerning his drain plug, it wasn't me.

    2. That's good then. I hoped I wouldn't have to go over to Sailing Anarchy and expose the Great Designer for being the first to sail with cheater blades.

      I believe you about the plug, but the "Original Drain Plug from the Original Laser once owned by the Great Designer" would make a nice thing to have on one's trophy shelf, don't you think?

      So is this the actual Laser that was at the New York Boat Show? By the way I think most sources say it was unveiled at the 1971 show, not 1970.

      I did hear a story about something that happened at a Laser event in Connecticut some years ago (probably Cedar Point YC I think.) The fleet captain of the host club noticed that some old guy had turned up with a Laser that had the same single digit sail number as one of the regular fleet members. (Some folk are just too lazy to stick on more than one sail number.) So the fleet captain went over to the old guy and explained that there already was a number 9 (or whatever it was) in the fleet and would the old guy kindly change his number.

      The old guy replied that he didn't think he was going to change his sail number because (a) he was Bruce Kirby and (b) his boat really was Laser #9.

      Hasty retreat by fleet captain to go and get the other guy to change his sail number.

      I must admit I am a little confused by what happened with early Laser sail numbers. I thought the production boats started at 100 or 101. But I guess this one in your photos is earlier than those.

  3. Discovered a bit more. Apparently the first production Laser was #102 and was the one on display at the NY boat show in Jan 1971. The prototype used at the TeaCup Regatta in 1970 was numbered #100. #101 never "materialized."


    Elsewhere I read that #100 was renumbered #0 so that may be the boat you saw. There are pictures that show the prototype with TGIF on the sail (the original name for the boat before they chose to call it a Laser) so the sail on the boat today probably isn't the original.

    I did meet Ward Bell (mentioned in the linked article) many years ago and he did have a really old Laser but I'm not sure if it was #102.


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