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RC Model Lasers - What to get and where to get it
As of September 2021

Buying a Boat
You can buy a boat by purchasing one line item, currently $325. It comes with everything you need to sail the boat except for batteries – 4 AA’s for the boat and 8 AA’s for the radio. And when it shows up in a box, you’ll be able to be sailing 10 minutes after you open the box. Unless you stop to read the directions!

But you may also decide you want more stuff – sails of other sizes, bags to stow and carry the boat and sails, a stand to set the boat on, etc. This is divided into what you must get (boat and batteries), what you will want to get, and what you may decide to get.

Sometimes good used boats become available. Good ones are not a huge discount to new ones – especially the last couple years where supply chains have been messed up so new ones are often months away. I have found used ones on the NA RC Laser web site (the one shown for sale on there as of September 2021 I bought in August 2021 unless he has another one!), have heard about them on the NA RC Laser Facebook page and have also had people contact me directly about them. I have looked on CraigsList but never found one yet.

The RC Laser class is a very tightly controlled one design class. This means you cannot do or buy whatever you want. Boat and sails MUST come from the authorized distributor – in North America it is Intensity Sails. There are only 7 rules for this class. The 7th is that if it is not in the first 6 then you CANNOT do it. Class rules here

Must Get… - Boat – Includes everything you need including hull, rudder, keel, B-sail with telltales, B-mast and boom, radio, receiver, AA battery holder, hatch cover and running rigging. Intensity Sails $325
- Batteries - 4 AA’s for the boat and 4, 8 or 12 AA’s for the radio. The batteries in the boat will last several hours while sailing, while the ones in the radio will last 3 or 4 times as long. Biggest factor for the batteries in the boat is how much you move the mainsheet – move it in and out a ton and batteries die sooner. If you plan to use Alkaline batteries (not rechargeable) get a pack of 40 or more from any retailer.
- Sail numbers (check with Bob to ensure unique 2-digit numbers in our fleet). OK - if you ask Rob and Nathaniel these aren’t required. But go to a regatta off Bow Lake and they probably won’t let you sail without them. Each size sail you have needs two pairs of numbers which is one set when you order them. Order from Intensity Sails but fulfilled by Nick Mortgu NA Laser Class Secretary. $5.99 per sail

New boat, Must Get’s you’re all in for ~$350 depending on what you spend for AA batteries.

You’ll Probably Want to Get… C sail – next size down from the standard/B sail. Sail size is alphabetical – A is largest, B next largest, etc. Move down to the C sail when steady white caps. Or when you can’t control the boat with the B sail. Fits on the standard supplied mast and boom. Intensity Sails $40
D sail – the smallest sail available, little more than a handkerchief. Move down to the D sail when the tops are starting to blow off the whitecaps, or when you can’t control the boat with the C sail. Fits on the standard supplied mast and boom. Intensity Sails $40
Boat stand – pretty handy to be able to stand your boat up when not using it like before/between racing. Of course, looks pretty good in the living room too… Intensity Sails $40
Boat carry bag is really helpful to bring your boat to whoever’s house we are sailing at that day. Or to Central Park. Or to a regatta. Intensity Sails $80. They also have a shipping box for $70 – I’ve never seen one so not sure how that works and what accessories fit in it.
Alkaline batteries die quickly and are bad for the environment because you have to throw them away. So you may consider using rechargeable batteries in the boat and/or the radio. In the boat you use a 5-AA rechargeable battery pack. 4 AA Alkaline = 6 volts while 5 AA rechargeables = 6 volts. Only certain types of batteries are allowed (not LIPO whatever those are). I have NiMH packs. Of course then you need chargers as well. Be Careful! These batteries are very powerful and can cause fires, especially while charging. Do not charge unattended. Do not charge on a flammable surface. Some people always carry a spare battery pack in their pocket and change out the pack halfway thru the day. I have found that is not necessary with the ones I use.

• Rechargeable batteries for the radio: AA NiMH from anywhere. Amazon finds 12 batteries for $39

• Charger for the “separate” AA rechargeables I have this one that can do `12 batteries at once for $26.

• Chargeable battery pack for the boat - pack of two for $20. Must be a 5-battery pack and cannot be LiPO. I have some of these 2000 mAh ones and some others that are 2300 mAh.

• Charger for the rechargeable battery pack for the boat. $13 for this one which has all the plug types you might ever want.

• Adaptor cable for the boat (these are weird connectors folks.) The standard Alkaline battery pack uses the orange connector (JST) and the rechargeable ones tend to use the black one (HiTec or Futaba?). I think this is the one but frankly I bought the wheel – male to male and male to female of each connector in case I got the gender wrong. Pickup stick – home made. I made some by buying a 4-inch paint roller and a broom handle (even better than a broom handle is a telescoping snow scraper handle) with matching threads. Then remove the paint roller and you are left with a hook that you can use to pick up your RC Laser. Pick it up by the keel supports – where you would pick up with your fingers if you didn’t have a stick. Especially useful for old guys with bad knees. Or for when the water is low and you can’t reach the boat. Or when the water is cold. Or when your boat is disabled and you can’t reach far enough to grab it with your fingers. NEVER pick it up by the mast – all you will get is the mast. And if you are unlucky, you’ll also get the press-fit mast fitting pulling out of the boat with it.

Radio lanyard - but when you join AMYA they may send you one. I had a ton of lanyards left over from attending conferences before I retired. But you can find them lots of places. Including really artsy ones on Etsy. Make sure the clip is small; large clips won’t fit on the small holes on the radio.

All of the Want To Get’s add about $425. ~$100 of that is only once if you are buying multiple boats. You May Decide to Get… Additional masts, booms and boom slides. Each sail already rigged with its own mast and boom makes storage and changing rigs take only a few seconds. Intensity Sails. For C and D sails, get a mast ($30) a boom ($10) and 3 boom slides ($1.75 * 3) each. $45 for C and $45 for D = $90.

The large A sail mast is about a foot taller than the one for the B, C and D sails. Get the A sail ($60) and A mast ($50) - the largest sail available, it’s massive. Careful of your ceiling – height from bottom of keel to top of A sail/mast is about 7 feet. Move up to the A sail when you feel like you want to be on the boat hiking to leeward. Or when someone else is using it and going faster than you are. Order from Intensity Sails. If you’re going to get the A sail then go ahead and spring for its own boom ($10) and 3 boom slides ($1.75 * 3). All in, all of these parts of an A sail package add up to $125. If you have 3 or 4 of the sails, and you have masts and booms for each of them, then the sail carry bag can be really helpful. Intensity Sails 4-rig carry bag $75.

Bob has 5 model racing marks with lines and weights, which you’re welcome to borrow. But if you want the convenience of setting your own course for practice, and don’t want to call Bob, come get the marks and then return them, consider getting some of your own. You’re on your own for weights and lines. I used whatever line I had around, and Ned was kind enough to supply some window sash weights – I think he has more of them laying around. And I got a 5-pound mushroom anchor from the Everything Free Wilmington Facebook page. Best to have two weights per mark – one sits on the bottom and the other sits a~5 feet below the surface to pull the line tight. Without the second weight you can easily wrap the mark line around your keel. Intensity Sails $13 each.

Customized hatch cover with (simplified) Bow Lake burgee on it. I bought 10 of these from Nick Mortgu and might have a couple left. I think it was $10 for the 10. Incidentally I have seen people use coffee can lids as hatch covers. Rubber bands to secure the hatch cover. Intensity Sails $0.50. Better safe than sorry.

Decals/Hull color panels. It’s really easy to lose sight of which boat is yours. The more colorful it is the easier it is to find it again. And maybe it’s hip too…. Intensity Sails $25, fulfilled by Nick Mortgu.

FlySky i6 Radio/Receiver. Search on Amazon ~$50. Easily reverse directions of the controls, adjust how far in each direction the rudder and the main sheet go, get a display that shows battery voltage in radio and in the boat, tec. Comes with the radio and the receiver – it’s an easy swap. And now you have a spare in case you burn up your receiver as I did. OK I burned up 2 of them – long story.

Corrosion X. Spray can of stuff that repels water. Spray it on your electronic connections and hopefully it will keep rust away. Not as critical in fresh water like Bow Lake, but if you sail in salt water at all this is pretty important. I bought 2 cans and they are massive so you are welcome to use mine to get started. I forget maybe $15 a can, search for it on Amazon.

Anywhere from $0 to $425 for the Decide to Get’s.

Note: If you are unlikely to sail when the wind is really light – skip the ~$125 for the complete A sail package. If you are unlikely to sail when the wind is blowing crazy – skip the ~$55 for the complete D sail package. The B and C sails are the ones most often used. BUT – when you’re on the D sail because the wind is crazy and you think you may have to go retrieve your boat on Ned’s beach or over the dam – that is incredibly fun sailing/surviving! And if you only have the B and C sails, then skip the $75 sail carry bag.

Spare Parts These boats are GREAT! But they do have moving parts and electronic parts. And non-moving parts. And over time you will likely need to replace them. So build up a supply of spares – you don’t want lack of a $10 part to keep you from sailing next week. And you don’t want to pay $40 for quick shipping to get a $10 part here in time for next week. And remember those supply chain issues? Murphy’s Law says the part you need is not available. Anywhere. For months.

What are the parts I have seen needed most often? Rudder servo, hatch cover rubber band, main sheet spring, power switch assembly, main sheet. The line used for the mainsheet and for the outhaul may wear out. Recommendation is to use fishing line (NOT monofilament) as replacement. Strong, light, does not kink. Other sources for some parts include Tower Hobbies and Hobby King (great inventory but once you give them your email address you’ll get a billion emails and good luck trying to unsubscribe). Nick just turned me on to Servo City (wonder if you can guess what they sell?). Intensity Sails is located in Rhode Island so if you order online over the weekend, and if it is in stock, then first class mail will usually get it to you before the weekend. But Hobby King, Servo City, etc. are west coast and you should plan on 10 or so days to receive items.

North America RC Laser Class Facebook Page
A great resource! Ask questions and get answers. Find out about regattas and used boats.

North America RC Laser Class web site
Great resource! Upcoming regattas, class rules, an awesome Tips & Tricks section and a For Sale area.

American Model Yachting Association AMYA
Includes information about all kinds of RC boats – not just Lasers. Join this group and indicate you are part of Club 401 (Bow Lake).

Nick Mortgu – Secretary of the NA RC Laser Class
Let Nick know your AMYA membership number and your sail number and he will set you up with the Class. Nick visited Bow Lake to watch us race in 2020. And sold me a boat. And provided a bunch of swag for us (twice). And has been really helpful. And is a nice guy. And his wife is the daughter of one of the big Lightning builders back in the day.

Intensity Sails - North American distributor for the RC Laser
Jim Myers, owner of Intensity Sails, is a great resource If you want to know if something is in stock, put it in your Cart. It will then show how many of that item are in stock.

Hobby King

Tower Hobbies

Servo City They sell servos. Surprising, isn’t it? Watch for a sale and then buy the spares you want. Rudder servos are cheap ~$12 while mainsheet servos are not ~$65.

YouTube – There are a lot of great YouTube videos showing you how to bind the radio, replace each servo, program your radio, etc. Just search for what you want.