Bytes - Frequently Asked Questions

What's a Byte?
What's a CII rig?

How do Bytes compare to Lasers?
Can I test sail or charter a Byte?
Are there any used Bytes for sale?
What kind of rigging changes can I make?

What's a Byte?

The Byte is a one-design, high-performance single-hand dinghy specifically designed and built for the light-weight to middle-weight sailor -- anyone from 90 to 165 pounds (with a target weight of 100 to 145 lbs.). The Byte is built in both North America and  Europe. It's a Canadian national youth boat, and there are growing  fleets in the USA and UK. Here are the specifications:

  • Overall Length: 12 ft.
  • Waterline length: 10 feet 6 inches
  • Beam: 4 ft. 3 in.
  • Sail area: 58 square feet
  • Hull weight: 100 pounds

What's a CII rig -- and how does differ from the standard rig?

The CII is the newer Byte class rig. Unlike the original "standard" rig (which has an aluminum mast and a dacron sail), the CII rig has a flexing carbon-fiber mast and mylar sail. The CII sail is slightly higher and narrower than the original Byte sail, with more roach, and it's more self-depowering, which is a big help to lighter sailors -- although it also helpsheavier sailors in light air. 

Almost all of our local fleet members now sail with the CII rig, and we race both rigs together, no separate scoring. On a national and international level, the two rigs get separate scoring. However, the original standard rig is being phased out by the builder.

How do Bytes compare to Lasers ? 

The Byte was designed by Ian Bruce, the father of the Laser®, who put his 18 years of experience with the Laser dinghy into the design and development of the Byte. Bytes actually use a Laser rudder, centerboard (shortened), and bottom mast piece. Here are the key differences as we see them.

  • LASERS -- When designing the Byte, Bruce fixed many of the problems sailors encounter on a Laser. Unlike the Laser, Bytes have a center-lead mainsheet traveler (no mainsheet getting caught on a corner of the stern), the sail zips around the mast, and all controls  for vang, cunningham, and outhaul  are led to both side decks with adequate purchase. The vang is 12:1 through a cascading, ball-bearing block system. Given the right conditions, Bytes can go nose to nose upwind with a Laser. Lasers, with their greater sail area, are faster downwind and move through chop better than a Byte. Bytes are more "squirrelly." Almost no one can step on the bow of a Byte without tipping it. If you're lighter weight, you will have more control and more fun in a Byte.
  • LASER RADIALS -- Laser Radials attempt to solve the "too light-weight for regular Lasers" problem with a smaller sail. What you get, in fact, is an underpowered Laser. If you're a light-weight, you're  going to sail faster and have more fun in a Byte.

Can I borrow or rent a Byte?  Can I go for a test sail?

There are several ways to try out a Byte:

  • The fleet owns an extra boat, the "Charter Byte." If you're really interested in trying out a Byte, the Charter Byte is available for a test sail at no cost. The Charter Byte can also be chartered for races and other events. Unless you're a very experienced dinghy sailor, we recommend that you don't try this on high wind day.  Light to moderate winds are better when you're just taking a test drive.
  • If you want a less formal test sail, you can usually borrow a boat for a quick sail when Bytes are coming into the dock after a race. Just contact the fleet to arrange any of these opportunities.

Are there any used Bytes for sale in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Yes - check out the following:

  • Byte for sail. $1,300 obo. Great condition, strong sound hull. 2 sets of standard sails, combination board, sail & equipment bag, and dolly. Ready to sail. or Tony  at 925-426-0686. 

  • Byte 2238 (year 2000). Fast hull in excellent condition, very lightly used. Stored under top and bottom covers since new. Includes Seitech dolly, top and bottom hull covers, standard rig, two sets of Dacron sails (one set very lightly used) and blade bag. $2,100. Contact 415-453-7245 or 

  • For Sale:  Topper Byte 1226.  Made in England - a bit heavier than the Canadian Bytes, but solid and reliable.  Standard rig, 1 nylon & 1 dacron sail, blade bag, dolly.  Rerigged in 2005.  $1,800 obo.  If you want to try the boat out, I can bring it to you!  Laurie Davis W:415-431-1600, C 415-760-4597,  415-461-3183, email 

 If you've got a boat for sale, please let us know and we'll post it here. There are people looking for boats.

What kind of rigging (and other ) changes can I make?

The International Byte Site's "How To" section has information on class rules, rigging options, where to place numbers on sails, etc.

If you've got other questions (or answers) you'd like displayed on this page, let us know!

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 last edit: 02/12/08