Laser class distracted by drama

Published on April 13th, 2014

While the Laser class remains a staple in the one design spectrum, there are troubles in paradise. When a one design class is fully reliant on a single supplier, and when the flow in the supply line gets clogged, a class can choke.

While the class strives to remain viable amid the effects of an on-going legal battle between the Laser commercial parties, a solution in Argentina has been to take matters in their own hands.

“For the last few years, a boat builder has been selling a very popular dinghy sailboat, which is commonly known as the 99% Laser,” notes Ari Barshi of the Laser Training Center in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. “It has all the Laser ingredients, races with the Laser, but does not display the Laser logo or name. The Argentinean program is a success as the boats are cheaper and parts are easily available.”

And now there is talk of this Laser copy extending beyond Argentina. “The boat will be called the 99er and the domain name 99erclass.org has been registered,” explained Barshi.

This won’t occur without a battle, likely from ISAF and the International Laser Class Association (ILCA), but most definitely from those that claim ownership rights to the Laser. Barshi believes the law is on their side.

“The Vessel Hull Design Protection Act is valid for 10 years, and when this time expires, the boat design is in the public domain,” states Barshi. “We have also never heard about a case in which builder Laser Performance, Laser designer Bruce Kirby, or any other enterprise ever trying to prevent anyone from building Laser clones based on design right claims.”

Barshi has plans to start building the 99er in the Dominican Republic. For questions, he can be contacted at 99er@caribwind.com

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