Disharmony in the Laser World
Published on January 23rd, 2019
The dysfunction within the World of Laser Sailing has a long history. There are design rights, boat builders, and one design class administration that’s not always in harmony. Like now.
The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) currently has three approved builders – Performance Sailcraft Japan, Performance Sailcraft Australia, and LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited – that each have their territory, with the largest creating the most angst.
LaserPerformance lists its territories as Europe, North America, South America, Africa and most of Asia, so their business practices can impact a lot of sailors. Supply issues have been on the forefront which has fostered copycat equipment that, while not class legal, is often permitted to ensure active participation in regattas.
There’s been a number of updates recently which began with LaserPerformance offering a lengthy State of the Union Address, followed by the ILCA clarifying some of their details, and now the ILCA is disputing other facts. Here is the latest:
LaserPerformance has claimed, among other things, that their company is “suffering from an onslaught of litigation and legal challenges from the International Laser Class Association in coordination with Bruce Kirby and his Australian partners at the Performance Sailcraft Pty group….” The statement goes on to say that this has caused “a diversion of millions of dollars into legal fees which would have been otherwise available to our sailing community initiatives.”
ILCA strongly and adamantly denies these claims. ILCA is not a party to any lawsuit against any person, entity or builder, including Laser Performance, and has never initiated any lawsuits nor coordinated or conspired with any other entity in bringing any litigation or legal challenges.
While ILCA was originally named as a co-defendant in a 2013 lawsuit brought by Bruce Kirby in Connecticut District Court against Laser Performance, ILCA, ISAF (as World Sailing was called at the time) and others, ILCA has since been dismissed from that suit. ILCA understands that the lawsuit in Connecticut is ongoing, but strongly denies that we have caused any other party to incur legal expenses, large or small, because of lawsuits brought by the class.
From the beginning of the legal actions in Connecticut, ILCA has encouraged all parities to look for an amicable solution outside of the court system and has attended several settlement meetings in an attempt to help the litigants reach a resolution to their legal disputes. ILCA finds it highly unfortunate that money (much less millions of dollars of legal fees) may have been spent on this case and we continue to encourage the litigants to settle their dispute as quickly as possible.
ILCA will continue to monitor any developments in legal cases affecting the class that are on-going or new ones that might arise, and follow any legal requirements made of our organization, with a goal of ensuring our members can continue to enjoy our sport.