Sunfish Class versus LaserPerformance
Published on May 11th, 2023
The shenanigans of boat builder LaserPerformance (LP) led to their removal as a supplier to the Laser Class, and due to their rights to the Laser name, led the popular one design organization to change its name to ILCA. It was all unfortunate, and LP’s performance is now inflicting the Sunfish Class.
It was April 24, 2023 when the International Sunfish Class Association (ISCA) announced how the 2023 Sunfish World Championship in Ecuador had been cancelled. This action was a result of how LP had agreed to provide boats for the Worlds, as they typically do, but then decided not to, and how it was no longer possible to get enough boats for the event.
When LP posted a statement on May 8, 2023 to explain their decision, it prompted the ISCA to distribute this clarifying notice on May 11, 2023:
While a lot of good things are happening in the class, Laser Performance, our builder, published a troubling message regarding the class. Their intent is unclear, but we thought it would be best to immediately share the full story with you.
Here are ISCA’s responses to the major points made by LP in their post (LP’s statements are in bold):
1. ISCA declined LP’s generous sponsorship offer: The agreement was in fact signed in 2017 by Bill Crane, Chairman of LP, and Larry Mass, former ISCA President. Unfortunately, LP never honored the agreement and no money was received (Sponsorship Agreement 2017).
2. ISCA website does not look like a Sunfish website: Please visit www.sunfishclass.org and draw your own conclusion.
3. LP does not want ISCA certifying North racing sails and Selden spars: Unfortunately, LP has only infrequently been supplying racing sails and hasn’t supplied spare spars in several years, so ISCA acted in conjunction with World Sailing to approve two Class Rule Changes in March 2023 to make these needed parts available to our dealers. Sunfish Class Association – Rules & Measurement
4. LP was willing to provide boats for the Ecuador Worlds but ISCA cancelled the event: Despite having previously reached an agreement with LP to supply the boats, on April 11, Willo Cappelleti, ISCA President, received this email from Bahman Kia of LP: “Willo- further our discussion today, it is unfortunate that both parties were not able to come to a common understanding. LPLDA will not be able to supply the 60 boats for the Sunfish Worlds in Ecuador.” The understanding LP required was that ISCA: a) stop certifying North sails and Selden spars and b) make a public commitment to LP. Without LP we were not able to have enough boats available in Ecuador, so the Worlds had to be moved.
5. ISCA will not sign a World Sailing agreement along with LP: In fact, after long negotiations with LP, ISCA signed the agreed-upon document in 2018 and LP then refused to sign. (WS Agreement Signed 18 June 18 by ISCA)
6. ISCA not visiting Portugal plant: Our primary efforts with LP have been to get them to provide better quality boats and a reliable parts supply for our dealers, which should not require a trip to Portugal. Last month (April 2023) was the first time that we have been invited to the Portugal facility. The last time an ISCA representative was invited to visit the factory was China in 2016.
7. LP claim that the 2022 Italy Worlds boats “were considered to be some of the best ever produced”: In the report the ISCA Class Measurer provided to LP post event: 100% of the boats had defective boom end caps, 9% of hulls leaked, and in addition 7% of the boats received redress for breakdowns during the regatta. That is a very high number for a fleet of brand-new boats.
We also wanted to provide some additional news on several topics:
1. Class Approved North sails and Selden spars: Class approved North racing sails and spars are now available from dealers due to ISCA’s work and approval from World Sailing with a Class Rules Change (link is in Point 3, above.)
2. 2023 Worlds will be announced soon: After LP promising boats and then uncommitting to the 2023 Worlds, ISCA will soon be announcing the location (in the US) and dates (early December) for the Worlds.
3. World Sailing Plaques: Additional news is that ISCA has been working closely with World Sailing the last 3 months on an issue with the required World Sailing plaques in Sunfish. ISCA members will get a communication this week that since 2021 LP has produced 560 boats that either did not have the required World Sailing plaque or had a plaque not purchased from World Sailing. Any plaque number above #103678 will need to be replaced. As you can see, the plaques LP printed are similar but different than the authentic plaque. The upcoming communication will have all the information needed to get a legal plaque. (Documentation on WS Plaques identification)
4. World Sailing Recognized Class: In part because of the plaque issue, on May 3 World Sailing placed the Sunfish class’s World Sailing Class status under review. ISCA leadership will be working with WS to maintain our status as a World Sailing Class. WS is also requiring us to have a signed WS Agreement in place by the end of 2023.
In conclusion, we want you to know that the class leadership is working hard to ensure that boats, parts, championships, and the integrity of our class remains intact. We are committed to coming out of this a stronger class.