Sailing shouldn’t be this hard

Published on April 21st, 2020

For such an iconic boat as the Laser, it’s been all “lawyers, guns, and money” for class administrators to insure builders make legal boats, to fulfill the new requirements for Olympic equipment, and to deal with the various holders of legal rights.

And while the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) has been cracking eggs to make an omelet, the organization now faces a grease fire as a group of disenfranchised Laser sailors have banded together to form a competing association they call The Laser Class (TLC).

In the thick of this new organization is LaserPerformance (LP), which had been the dominant builder for ILCA until LP was found to be building non-compliant boats. Now removed as an ILCA builder, TLC is their “rising like a phoenix” narrative.

Beat Heinz, the acting TLC executive secretary, responds to some questions:

Is the plan for The Laser Class to replace ILCA?

First of all, we have to say that it was never our intention to split from ILCA. Over years we tried to influence them from within to open up, be more transparent, and listen to their members. But nothing changed. Therefore, finally, after long considerations we decided to create a new class – dedicated to transparency and a very direct democratic approach. We want to represent the original spirit of the Laser be this with or without ILCA.

Being an Olympic class is a blessing and a burden. What would TLC prefer?

Being an Olympic class is helping a lot in respect of media presence, and while we fully stand behind in the Olympics, we also think that in the past ILCA has somehow forgotten about all the sailors not on the Olympic path. This segment are those sailors representing the big majority of this class. Therefore the club sailor, the youth sailor, and the master sailor are the three main groups The Laser Class is focusing on.

LaserPerformance, as the only recognized builder at this time, had been unable to adequately supply the Americas for ILCA members. Has there been any change to improve service?

This is definitely not the best story for LP. They will definitely need to do their homework in that area. As a class, we cannot speak for them and do not know their plans on how they want to achieve this.

Is TLC seeking additional builders? How will the class ensure consistency?

We are working on the required processes and will very soon invite other builders to join the class. We will make sure those new builders will follow strict one design rules are applied by very narrow margins in the production manuals.

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