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Builder bullies Sunfish Class

Published on November 16th, 2017

A one design class is an owner’s association that supports and protects the interests of its members. But no one design class succeeds without reliable suppliers. A well-run class, when matched with a reliable supply, is a win-win. The alternative is much less.

The foundation of a one design class is in its independence to best serve its members, and it is this status that is in jeopardy for the International Sunfish Class Association (ISCA). Its sole supplier, LaserPerformance (LP), is seeking to take control.

LP has formed its own class, International Sunfish Class Organization (ISCO), launching a website that took liberty of critical ISCA information. Larry Maas, president of ISCA, offers this update.

LP is using deception to start their own Sunfish Class, ISCO. This was done in retaliation because the ISCA World Council would not sign over our rights to the ISCA initials and the name International Sunfish Class Association in a restrictive trademark agreement to LP.

Larry Maas

At our 2017 World Council meeting held in Brant Beach on August 30, we voted that we would not relinquish our rights to ISCA at any cost. Enough was enough.

The class is tired of being held hostage to LP. From threatening to withhold World Championship boat shipments, unless we signed the agreement, to not being able to get class legal parts for many years, created the need for the World Council to take action.

The World Council has changed the class rules to allow ISCA, not the builder, to approve class legal parts for the boats. These rule changes have been submitted to World Sailing, and they have assured ISCA that they are working to approve this ASAP.

Unfortunately, LP has left the Class with more problems than solutions, broken promises, and few choices. It would be ideal if LP could just support the class, make boats, and let us sail them.

Recently LP has notified many of you (class members) to sign an agreement with them. We caution you … DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING from LP, Velum or ISCO! Beware: LP has many different layered companies. Although the letter stated it was signed by ISCA, it was not! ISCA had nothing to do with the letter. All of ISCA’s letters will originate from the Class office.

This agreement is being done to benefit LP, not one design sailing for our Class. Once again LP offers nothing. Where is their plan for charter boats? Since 2011, ISCA has to find a dealer to layout all of the money for the World Championship charters. With all of the problems over the years, this has become an increasingly difficult sell to dealers. Therefore, the 2018 ISCA World Championships will be a ‘bring your own boat’ regatta. (see NOR).

This Class belongs to the members and not LP. Make no mistake about it, ISCO is LP and LP is ISCO. In order for ISCA to become a recognized Class by World Sailing (ISAF) in 1984, the Class had to be independent from the builder for a year before being recognized. AMF spun the Class off to be an independent internationally recognized Class and now LP wants it back. The one caveat is that they want ISCA members to run it under their control.

We will do our best to keep all of you updated on a regular basis as things develop. We continue to fight for our Class and will not give up. Here is an update on the actions we are taking:

1. Our attorney issued LP a “cease and desist” letter telling them to stop using any information copied from our website. That includes our Class Rules, Constitution, mission statement and personal information of our members. This is a clear copyright violation. The outrage expressed by many of you directly to LP has been a huge help. Thank you for your support.

2. The update from Hector Duval, our ISCA World Sailing representative who met with World Sailing at their annual meeting in Mexico last week, is quite encouraging. Please note that World Sailing has not made any public statements of support yet, but we feel it’s important that you know what is currently happening there.
a. The general consensus of the World Sailing members, who Hector talked with, do not support ISCO’s and LP’s actions. World Sailing is run for the sailors, not for the builders. World Sailing is very familiar with LP and their issues and, as a result, World Sailing currently supports ISCA and not ISCO.
b. The consensus for approving our class rule change, giving us the right to approve class legal parts, is positive. It has even been hinted at that we should expect an approval letter quite soon.

Again, we await a public statement of support from World Sailing’s within the next week. We all know we are not alone in our fight for independence. The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) has also had similar issues. LP has not been supporting our Class since 2011, but they are intent on starving us for parts and controlling us. Once World Sailing acts we will know what our next steps will be.

What we do predict is that LP will continue their fight to try to take control of our class. LP hopes to win by depleting the class’s funds. Now more than ever, it is crucial that everyone renews their membership and supports the class with donations. We did not choose this fight, LP did. Donations will help with our legal expenses and with keeping the class independent. So you’ll be hearing more from us about ways you can help.

Lastly, I want to thank Hector Duval for all his efforts at the World Sailing Annual meeting in Mexico last week. Hector was very busy and was able to get meetings on short notice with World Sailing’s key personnel. Hector, I know I’m speaking for our entire class; THANK YOU for all of your hard work this week. We would not have been able to move as quickly as we did without your help.” It is important to note that we are all volunteers, and Hector was at the World Sailing meeting on his own nickel. We did not pay his way; he does this because he loves this class like we all do!

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