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Laser Designer Bruce Kirby Dies at 92

20th July 2021
Annalise Murphy racing a Laser Radial in Medemblik in June 2021
Annalise Murphy racing in Medemblik in her Laser Radial, a variant of the classic dinghy design by Bruce Kirby Credit: Sander van der Borch

Scuttlebutt Sailing News pays tribute to legendary yacht designer Bruce Kirby, who has died on Sunday (18 July) at the age of 92.

Kirby is internationally renowned as the designer of the Laser class — in which Ireland’s own Annalise Murphy will be chasing Olympic glory in Tokyo in a few days’ time.

However, the former newspaper man from Ottawa in Canada had a lengthy sailing career in his own right from the 1950s, competing in Olympic Games in the Finn (1964) and Star (1968) as well as designing several world-title-winning International 14s, a class he raced in his youth.

In the 1970s Kirby drafted designs for a string of boats still in wide use today — among them the Sonar, which remains a boat of choice for the Paralympics.

And he was a skipper for Canada’s Admiral’s Cup campaign in 1981 in a yacht of his own design.

But Kirby will forever be associated with the iconic dinghy he conceived of in 1969 and which has brought Ireland our strongest Olympic sailing results today.

Scuttlebutt Sailing News has more HERE.

Published in Laser
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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At A Glance – Laser Dinghy Specifications

Designer Bruce Kirby & Ian Bruce

Year 1969

Crew 1
Draft 0.787 m (2 ft 7.0 in)
Hull weight 58.97 kg (130.0 lb)
LOA 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
LWL 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Mainsail area 7.06 m2 (76.0 sq ft)

Racing D-PN 91.1 RYA PN 1088 PHRF 217

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