|LOA||12 ft (3.7 m)|
|Beam||4 ft 3 in (1.30 m)|
|Hull weight||100 lb (45 kg)|
|Mainsail area||58 sq ft (5.4 m2)|
The Byte is a one man sailing dinghy. It is produced by xtreme Sailing Products of Singapore and PS2000 in North America, and was previously produced by Topper Sailboats in the UK. However, Topper ceased production of GRP boats to concentrate on its rotomolded plastic designs. It is 12 ft (3.7 m) long, 4 ft 3 in (1.3 m) wide and roughly 100 lb (45 kg). The hull is composed of glass reinforced polyester and foam sandwich. The Byte is designed for sailors weighing 120 to 145 lb (54 to 66 kg) although most sailors weighing 90 to 160 lb (41 to 73 kg) should have no problems sailing this boat on a recreational basis. The Byte sail size is only 58 square feet (5.4 m²) making it the ideal boat for those sailors who enjoy the independence and simplicity of a cat rigged boat, such as the Laser, but who are not strong or heavy enough to control a large sail.
The hull is quite narrow which makes the boat less stable than the Laser and definitely only suitable for one person. The rigging is similar to that of the Laser except one noticeable difference. The traveler is just below the main sheet block and not at the stern of the boat (similar to a Finn or Europe dinghy). This eradicates the chance of the main sheet getting caught on the transom which is a common complaint of the Laser. The sail controls are also "split" and led to both side-decks, again somewhat like a Finn or Europe and allows for more technical adjustments. In the incredibly unlikely event that a Byte were to be sailed in a race environment against a Laser Radial, the Byte's Portsmouth yardstick of 1162 means that in a 90 minute pursuit race a laser radial would need to complete the course more than four minutes faster to beat the Byte.
A new design known as the "CII", with a fully battened sail and carbon-fibre mast, has recently been developed. The new rig has a slightly larger sail made of mylar and similar in appearance to the 29er sails. The new rig is designed to be self depowering and a much needed update to the previous byte rig. The inspiration for the new rig and sail was to create an out-of-the-box, cost effective, women Olympic boat. However, the Laser Radial was chosen over the Byte CII as the women's boat for the 2008 Olympics. Experienced Byte CII sailors often exclaim their surprise of the apparent difference from the standard Byte. Often these same sailors will also express surprise of the speed of the CII compared to the Byte. The introduction of two such remarkably different rigs has frustrated many sailors who are forced to buy the new equipment if they wish to be competitive in their boats, a violation of the fundamental principles of the one-design sail boats.
Although the Byte class operates on numerous continents, and there are fleets around the world; the critical mass of boats necessary to hold a Byte regatta is only found (with few exceptions) in Canada, Singapore, Bermuda, Great Britain and Switzerland. In the U.S. it is doubtful if the Byte can overcome the Laser Radials stranglehold as the single hand boat of choice for sailors from 90-160, especially considering that only minimal investment is required to convert the boat to a Laser Full Rig as the hulls are identical. Recently, the byte has come under fire because the Canadian Yachting Association claims it is taking light sailors out of the double handed classes and keeping them in a relatively inexperienced fleet. Discussions are being made about restricting the boat as a junior class, that is, to sailors 16 years of age and younger in Canada.
Information on the Byte and other PS2000 products