Getting the camel to strut again

Published on April 26th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) terminated the contract with its largest builder, the shockwaves around the world were double head-high. And because that builder, LaserPerformance (LP), held the rights to the Laser Trademark, that meant the 50 year old class needed to be rebranded. Wow!

It is an exceedingly complicated situation. The ILCA had a protocol to insure all three builders followed strict guidelines to produce identical boats for fair racing and to minimize event measurement. When LP did not abide by the protocol, and given the historic friction between the ILCA and LP, the camel’s back broke.

But to terminate LP? That brings another level of madness to the situation, and as you can suspect, LP is not pleased.

They’d been the sole supplier for Europe, Central America, South America, North America, Far East and Asia (excluding Japan, North Korea, and South Korea), Middle East, Africa, Russia, and all other territories not covered by other builders. Their livelihood is at stake.

But onward goes the ILCA, and aside from sourcing new suppliers for the bulk of the planet, they revealed the new name for the boat – the ‘ILCA Dinghy’.

LP is not likely to go quietly into the night, and while ILCA remains confident in their legal position, I am listening for the other shoe to drop. Beyond the belief in their own legal rights, LP is frustrated that an international class has so much leadership in the USA.

Jeff Martin, who had served as the Executive Secretary of the International Laser Class Association for 40 years, died unexpectedly in January which moved the Class Office from the UK to the USA. More so, the role of Class President since 2012 has been an American.

Here is a statement from LP issued April 26, 2019:
ILCA announced that it has changed the Laser boat name to “ILCA Dinghy”. These actions are illegal but more importantly they totally disrespect the members. ILCA is neither builder-led nor US-led. It is a member-led organization for its members of whom over 70% are in Europe. LP reiterates its call to membership:

• ILCA move back to Europe where the majority of Laser sailors live and sail.
• ILCA appoint a professional executive team to run the class operations paid for by increased plaque fees charged to the builders.
According to the ILCA, LP is now a deserted island. All the suppliers are onboard with the change, and perhaps of equal importance, so is World Sailing.

“We’re assured that we have their (World Sailing) full support with this changeover, especially since we now have the opportunity to comply fully with World Sailing’s fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing requirements for Olympic equipment,” said Eric Faust, ILCA’s Executive Secretary.

This may be the most significant point, as the ILCA wants their boat to remain as the Olympic equipment for the One Person Dinghy event, and the previous situation with LP could have been a deal breaker. Now the camel might be able to strut again.

UPDATE: World Sailing issued a statement (April 27, 2019) regarding recent public statements that they contend have overstated conversations with World Sailing officials… click here.

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