ILCA Dinghy: Onward we go

Published on May 25th, 2021

Gone is the starburst insignia on the sail, and now gone is the Laser term in the vernacular for this historic singlehander celebrating its 50 year anniversary in 2021.

Meet the ILCA dinghy.

First called the Weekender, then the Laser, now ILCA will be the term for the 218,000 boats built and raced in over 140 countries.

This name change follows years of legal wrangling between the International Laser Class Association, boat designer Bruce Kirby, and the three original builders (LaserPerformance, Performance Sailcraft Australia, and Performance Sailcraft Japan) which came to own the trademark for selling boats and equipment.

More so, when the Class had to expand its list of approved suppliers to comply with the World Sailing Olympic Equipment Policy necessitated by European Union antitrust law, the newly recruited builders were unable to use the name “Laser” to sell boats without a license.

Velum (aka LaserPerformance), the owner of the trademark in about 80% of the world, did not present such an option at the time the new builders were brought online. Without that, the most straightforward solution was for the new builders to sell under the “ILCA” brand, which the Class owns throughout the world.

As for the rig names, which had been known as the Laser Standard, Laser Radial, and Laser 4.7, they too made a shift for simplicity (and to avoid nasty litigation) and have been rebranded by using the approximate sail area (in square meters) for the rig name.

Therefore, the “4.7” becomes “4”, “Radial” becomes “6”, “Standard” becomes “7”.

Oddly enough, Velum is not currently permitted to supply boats for Class racing after they breached the terms of the Laser Construction Manual Agreement which seeks to ensure the identical nature of all Laser class boats, regardless of where they are built.

As messy as it all has been, the Class is optimistic that the worst is over (for now), and the organization is moving forward in good health. Plaque sales (for new boats) are up significantly from previous years, sail button sales are as high as any previous year, and there remains high demand for championship events, etc.

On a more local level, it seems fleets are resurgent in many areas of the world, and especially in North America where supply has been such an issue for so many years.

Therefore, from this point forward Scuttlebutt will be reporting on ILCA Dinghy events, and how the Men’s and Women’s One Person Dinghy events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be using the ILCA 7 and ILCA 6. Onward we go…

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