The Alternatives (and their weaknesses)
The obvious altenratives to the Laser Two are:
For many of these, the competition is fierce, and not particularly
inviting for new sailors, or even seasoned sailors with little or no
racing experience. Beyond that, specific weaknesses for each boat
- Vanguard 15
- Hobie 16
The 420 is too small a boat for two full sized adults. It is about
20% heavier than a Laser two, and has 20% less sail area. As a result,
it really only starts to get xciting for adults at around 20 knots, and
is always uncomfortable for us. It is also much harder to launch, and
very difficult to car-top, due to the weight. The reason for the heft
is ruggedness; used as youth trainers, they are designed to withstand
numerous reckless collisions. If you want to be able to crash your boat
a lot, this would be a better choice than the Laser 2 for you.
As this is currently the youth trainer of choice in the US, used boat
prices are at a premium. You are unlikely to find a 420 for under $3000,
or a good one for under $4000.
JY-15 and Vanguard 15
While slightly roomier than the Laser Two, the JY-15 is significantly
heavier. It is even more difficult to launch and car-top than the 420.
Both the JY-15 and the V-15 have no provisions for either a trapeze or a
spinnaker. Therefore, physical fitness and continuous exertion become
necessary as early as 15 knots. This also makes them infeasible to solo
in much over 12 knots.
470s are extremely similar in performance and layout to Laser Twos.
However, they are 90 lbs heavier, and have only slightly more sail area
(about 8% more main & jib, and about 20% more spinnaker).
Furthermore, due to being an olympic class, and more
technical, they are extremely expensive; raceable ones are never
under $10,000. And worst of all, they are not durable; people who
race them call them "disposable boats," and count on them only
lasting a year or two for racing.
The 5o5 is somewhat of a scaled up 470. Compared to a Laser Two, it is
very large and heavy. It is extremely powerful, enough so to be
intimidating to new or inexperienced sailors starting in only medium
winds. Because of it's size, all but the most experienced sailors can
easily start getting themselves into trouble in not much over 20 knots.
And also due to it's size, it is an effort to transport and launch. This
class is experimental, and thus it's rules change. To
stay competitive, you may have to spend money on a boat even if
it is in perfectly good shape. 5o5's sell for $10,000 and up,
slightly less for a fairly beat up boat.
29er & Vector
Definiely fun and fast boats. But as all-out skiffs, they are not
practical for leisure sailing. They are much less stable, and it is
critical that both the skipper and crew have a very keen and
tuned sense of balance. It is necessary to pay constant attention to
wind shifts and waves just to avoid capsizing. Olnly the most
experienced skippers could get away with taking out a novice crew, and
only physically fit and nimble people would be able to enjoy it.
As these boats are both relatively new, and in the case of the 29er,
currently in high demand as youth trainers, they are very expensive. You
are unlikely to get into either boat for less than $6000.
The Hobie 16 has been around long enough that there are plenty of cheap
boats available. It is definitely fun and fast, and stable. Downsides
are: catamarans are very difficult to right once capsized. It is not
unthinkable to have conditions escalate to the point where only an
expert could right one. They are also much heavier than a laser two, and
very wide. This makes them very difficult to launch alone. They require
large, wide, heavy trailers which require attention while towing.