About the Boat

The world’s most popular adult and youth racing class. 

Originally known as the Laser, the ILCA dinghy is a single-handed racing dinghy. The biggest attraction of the ILCA dinghy is that it is protected by strict one-design class rules, which means that no changes are allowed to the boat unless they are specifically permitted in the rules. The result is that all ILCA boats are virtually identical, whether they are brand-new or 10 years old, making it the sailor that wins the race – not the boat. The ILCA dinghy is a challenging boat that rewards athleticism, subtle steering, and trimming techniques, as well as tactical excellence. It is a single-handed Olympic-class boat for both men and women and is sailed at club, national, and international levels. With over 225,000 boats in 140 countries, it is the world’s most popular adult and youth racing sailboat.

No fuss, just sailing.

One of the reasons the ILCA dinghy is so popular is the boat’s sheer simplicity. The two-part free-standing mast and sleeved sail make the boat easy to rig, and its lightweight hull makes it easy to carry and cartop.

A boat for life.

The ILCA formula combines one hull with three different rigs: ILCA 4, ILCA 6, and ILCA 7. Young sailors starting out in the ILCA 4 can move up in rig sizes as they grow physically and develop tactically without the need to buy a complete new boat every few years. The one-design protection also means that your boat will never be outdated, which explains why ILCA dinghies have such high resale values.

Finally, a strong class association that actively promotes and drives forward sailing around the globe makes mass production of the ILCA dinghy viable, keeping the cost of the boats and spares relatively low.

The ILCA Formula

A choice of rigs for different size sailors means three boats in one. See Equipment for more detailed boat diagrams. 

  • Are your children reaching the age when they want to go sailing in an ILCA by themselves?
  • Does your husband or wife fancy the occasional sail in your ILCA?
  • When you drive two hours to get to the water, have you found it is too windy for you to go sailing?
  • Are you too light to sail with the ILCA 7 rig?

The ILCA formula is the answer to all these questions. By changing only the sail and lower mast, an ILCA dinghy can be sailed comfortably in a great variety of wind conditions and provide exciting but controlled sailing even for sailors weighing as little as 35 kg. The ILCA formula is a three-rig option that has been adopted by a number of sailing schools as a simple and economical way for sailors of different sizes and abilities to sail in a wide range of winds and reduce the amount of “down time.”

The ILCA 4 uses a short pre-bent lower mast to maintain a balanced helm and a sail area that is 35% smaller than the ILCA 7. It is ideal for the lighter-weight sailor graduating from Optimist.

The ILCA 6 is the next step up in size. It uses a more flexible and slightly shorter lower mast together with a sail area 18% smaller than the ILCA 7. The ILCA 6 has a large following with national and international regattas and World Championships for men, women, and youth, attracting as many countries and competitors as the ILCA 7. Many countries support a full ILCA 6 youth program. In addition to having a strong following among lighter-weight sailors, the ILCA 6 is the women’s single-handed dinghy at the Olympic Games. 

The ILCA 7 can be sailed by any weight in light winds, but as the wind increases, it is better suited to higher sailor weights. The ILCA 7 is a single-handed dinghy for men at the Olympic Games. 

Apart from the strong second-hand market for the ILCA 7, there is an even stronger second-hand market for ILCA 6 and ILCA 4 lower mast and sails as a separate package from the hull.

Why sail the ILCA dinghy?

One of the greatest things about the ILCA dinghy is that it offers a huge amount of fun and family pleasure to all ages, yet at the same time it satisfies the desire for excellence and a physical test at the highest level in the Olympic Games. The ILCA dinghy is something very special. With over 225,000 boats built, the attraction remains strong for new owners with new boats being built at a rate of over 2,000 per year.

Seeing youngsters, fresh out of youth classes, getting a thrill out of sailing an Olympic-class boat in full control with the ILCA 4 or ILCA 6 rig is as exciting as listening to the stories of 60-year-old Masters recounting their wild rides on Pacific rollers during the 1997 World Masters Championship in Chile.

The ILCA dinghy is challenging and it is rewarding, whether at the club level or the Olympic Games. When you take your 10-year-old boat out for a local race, the challenge is to work harder, hike longer, be smarter, and sail better than the other ILCA sailors. At the end of the race, you count the number of boats behind you, and you are rewarded with the knowledge that you beat them fair and square by your own skill and effort. Even if there are no boats behind you, the challenge is to go out next time, knowing that you have equal equipment and the potential to improve.

And there is a bonus! It is quick to rig, keeps you fit, and is inexpensive.

When you look in the center pages of the Handbook and count ILCAs sailing in 120 different countries all over the world, you see that ILCA has achieved the highest-ever country entry at the Olympic Games and see how many countries are entering ILCA World Championships. You perhaps realize just how great our little boat is and why it is so important to look after it with a strong class association.

Have fun!