April 30, 2019
Passion around "Laser"
The situation that has developed recently in the class of "Laser", at the request of the press service of the All-Russian All-Russian Union of Federal Service of Military Formations, was commented by a member of the World Sailing Council Oleg Ilyin.
The International Association of Class "Laser" (ILCA) on April 27 made an official statement about changing the name of the boat, as well as about the withdrawal of the right to manufacture "Lasers" from the company Laser Performance, the main manufacturer of boats of this class.
This sensational news excited riders, coaches, sailing specialists – all who care about the fate of one of the most popular dinghy in the world.
The press service of the All-Russian All-Russian Union of Prisons Service asked commentary on the situation of the All-Russian All-Union Service Federation representative in the International Sailing Federation (World Sailing), member of the WS Council, Honored Trainer of the Russian Federation Oleg Ilyin.
– The first and main question, what is the essence of the conflict between the ILCA and Laser Performance?
– The International Association demanded that the firm admit to the shipyards in order to make sure that the manufacturers strictly follow the class rules in the manufacture of boats. Representatives of the company categorically denied the Association the right to control its activities. In short: the representatives of the Association were not allowed into the territory of Laser Performance.
– And what is the reason? And is it true that the Association has such rights?
– To be honest, I first heard about the claims to the boats of this company in 2016, at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Many Olympians claimed that the boats supplied by the British firm vary greatly in quality. Riders with obvious resentment said that for their team Laser Performance manufactures special boats, with additional hull reinforcements. But these are all words, and, as you know, “the word cannot be approached”. Obviously, the complaints and claims of the riders were heard at the headquarters of the class, in the International Class Association, ILCA. It is also obvious that the number and level of claims reached a critical mass, which was the reason for the ILCA’s intention to verify the validity of such complaints.
– But after all, Laser Performance is a private enterprise, perhaps it was the refusal to allow representatives of the public ILCA organization into its territory?
– This question has an exhaustive answer. But first, literally two words about the Association. ILCA is the second in the world in terms of power (after IODA, the Optimist Class Association), a public sports sailing organization. It brings together more than 14 thousand official members, and only more than 50,000 class lovers go on the dinghy of this class. The objectives of the Association include the organization of competitions, the development of training programs for the helmsmen and coaches, the development and implementation of the necessary corrections to the class rules, close cooperation with the International Federation, etc. But the main task of the ILCA was, is, and will be the maintenance of a strict monotype of the class, providing the athletes with exactly the same material part, whether it is a fan of the club level, or an Olympic champion. “If we cannot be sure that all boats are the same, then consider that the class ceases to exist,” emphasizes ILCA President Tracy Asher.
– Do you think that this statement is enough to break into the territory of the shipyard, which is privately owned?
– Of course, statements and kind words are not enough. Each year, the Laser class at its General Assemblies checks, clarifies and, if necessary, amends the class rules. The approved rules become part of the contract between the ILCA and the manufacturing companies, the so-called Laser Construction Manual Agreement (LCMA). The contract recognizes the right for ILCA to monitor strict compliance of products with class rules. Accordingly, the contract includes the right to inspect production at any stage of the manufacture of boats.
– So why all the same Laser Performance refused to allow ILCA to its workshops?
– I propose to leave this question without comment. The company frankly ignores the terms of the contract, and this is a fact. Draw your own conclusions.
– Well, so what will happen now with the class? With racers?
– There are two main questions here. The first is how to deal with the existing huge fleet of “Lasers” and who will meet the needs of riders in the new material part? And the second question – how will all of this affect the fate of the “Laser” as the numbers of the Olympic program, meaning the two upcoming Olympic Games? Where do we start?
– Let's start with the first one. It is known that Laser Performance was the main supplier of boats to Europe – the main consumer of "Lasers". If the company stops producing boats, then how can we provide everyone with material equipment?
– First of all, ILCA emphasized that absolutely all boats issued by an English, or any licensed company, until April 27, 2019, retain their rights and will be allowed to participate in any Association competitions. Let me remind you that at present, besides Laser Performance, firms in Japan and Australia have licenses for the construction of Lasers. “We are sure that soon we will see new manufacturers of the class,” emphasizes the Executive Secretary of the Association, Eric Fost. “The demands of the world for Lasers will certainly be met.”
– And if at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo again there is talk that the material part of the participants is not equivalent?
– I am sure that such conversations will not arise. All participants of the Games 2020, and this is a male and female loner, will perform on the boats, represented by the Japanese company Performance Sailcraft Japan. The two closest world championships will be held in Japan and Australia – countries where licensed “Lasers” are made, and this, according to Eric Fost, will help solve the temporary problem with the material part.
– Your statements are more than optimistic. Well, the conflict between the Association of ILCA and "Laser Performance" will remain in history as an anecdote, as an insignificant episode in the history of sailing variety?
– Must disappoint you. The problems of the class are not exhausted, they are just beginning, especially considering the participation of Lasers as “Equipment” (material part) for two numbers of singles in the Olympics 2020 and 2024.
To begin with, the Association offers and insists on a new class name. Instead of the title “Laser” (Standard, Radial, etc.), the class is now called ILCA Dinghy. You say, and God bless him, all the same, how they called the boat "Laser" – they will call it that way.
So it is, but not quite. We open the WS Regulations and read: the program of the Olympic Games 2020 includes: “Men's single (dinghy) Laser”; "Female loner (dinghy) Laser radial" (Article 23.1.4). But then we read that for each number of the Olympic program the International Federation concludes a contract with the Class (Association) and / or the Manufacturer (Article 32.1.5). Such a contract is made four years before the next Games. The contract existing from 2017 in the new situation automatically becomes invalid. And not only because of the conflict between the ILCA and the Laser Performance, but mainly because we are now dealing with the ILCA Dinghy.
– But this is only the name, the sign, the boat is the same, nothing changes in it!
– Yes, the boat does not change, but the situation is completely new. How important this is is underlined in a statement delivered by the WS Board of Directors together with a group of leading experts from WS. The statement was published just now, April 29th. First, World Sailing states that the International Federation has nothing to do with the conflict, in form and content. Secondly, the WS stresses that all procedures for the election and approval of Olympic classes will be strictly followed. This means that ILCA Dinghy will have to go through the whole process of inclusion in the Olympic program 2020 and, especially, Program 2024 again! Let me remind you that the program of Games-2024 was approved only in part of the numbers (single dinghy, male and female), but not equipment, i.e. class sailing ships / shells. Specific classes of sailing ships will be named only in November of this year. Prior to this, in the summer of this year, an evaluation competition will be held, in which any suitable class of boats / shells can act as a contender for Olympic status.
– And what is your forecast, will the “Laser” in the program of the Olympic Games?
– Forecasts are a completely justified, necessary thing. But they need to be built not on sand, but relying on reliable information. In mid-May, an average annual meeting of the WS will be held in London, and there is no doubt that the question of Lazer will occupy a central place in the discussions. Having received such information, it will be possible to make quite reliable predictions. I promise to tell everything that I know, and I hope to return with optimistic information. By the way, now, before the WS meeting, it is very important to know the mood and wishes of our lazerists, the coaching council of the national team. This will help defend our interests at the conference.
– Thank you very much for the complete information. Do not want to say a few words in conclusion?
– Really want to! The class "Laser" is not just a new page, it is an era in world sailing. "Laser" was born as a result of the friendly efforts of three outstanding riders: Bruce Kirby (draft), Jan Bruce (builder) and Hans Fogh (sail). "Laser" is not just a boat, it is a concept, these are the ideas that the authors put into their project: simplicity of the hull and weapon design, ease of operation, safety, use on any, the smallest water area, transportation without problems (on the car roof) , affordability.
And yet the main idea of the authors of the project was the desire to make a strict monotype: whoever you are, by purchasing the “Laser”, you get exactly the same boat as any other. Along with such classes as Finn, 470, "Laser" opened a new era in sailing, namely: the MAN, the yachtsman, the racer, and not the money invested in the exclusive material part must win.
We wish the "Laser", no matter how it is now called, and further prosperity for the joy and benefit of all subsequent generations of young yachtsmen!
Press Service VFPS
158 April 30, 2019 # 8978