Passions around “Laser”

The situation recently in class “Laser”, at the request of the press service of the WFTU commented on the member Council of the World Sailing Oleg Ilyin.

The international Association of class Laser (ILCA) on April 27 issued an official statement about changing the names of the boats, and also about withdrawal of the rights to manufacture the “Lasers” from the company Laser Performance, a major producer of boats in this class.

This sensational news has excited riders, trainers, professionals, sailing – all who care about the fate of one of the most popular dinghies in the world.

The press service of the WFTU was asked to comment on a situation the representative of the WFTU in the International sailing Federation (World Sailing), a member of the WS Board, honored coach of Russia Oleg Ilyin.

– The first and main question, what is the essence of the conflict between the Laser Performance and ILCA?

– International Association demanded from the company the admission at the shipyard in order to ensure that the manufacturers strictly follow the class rules in the manufacture of boats. Representatives of the firm categorically denied the Association the right to control its activities. In short: representatives of the Association were not allowed into the territory of Laser Performance.

– And what is that? And is it true that the Association has such rights?

– To be honest, I first heard about the complaints about the boats of this company in 2016 at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Many Olympic athletes claimed that the boats supplied by the English firm, are very different in quality. Racers with obvious resentment said that for his team Laser Performance manufactures special boats with extra-strengthened hull. But it’s all words, as you know, “a word to business you will not sew”. It is obvious that the complaints of the riders was heard and in the General staff class, International class Association, ILCA. It is also evident that the number and level of claims reached a critical mass that caused the ILCA intention to verify the validity of such complaints.

But because Laser Performance is a private enterprise, maybe it was the refusal to allow representatives of public organizations ILCA on its territory?

– This question has a comprehensive answer. But first a few words about the Association. ILCA is the second largest (after IODA, Association “Optimist” class) public and sport sailing organization. It unites more than 14 thousand official members, and all of the dinghies in this class goes more than 50 000 fans of the class. The tasks of the Association include the organisation of competitions, development of training programs for steering and trainers, development and implementation of necessary adjustments to the class rules, in close cooperation with the International Federation, etc. But the main task of ILCA was, is, and will maintain strict monolitnosti class, all athletes absolutely the same material, be it a fan club or Olympic champion. “If we can’t be sure that all boats are the same, consider that a class ceases to exist,” – emphasizes the ILCA President Tracy usher.

– Do you think that this statement is sufficient to intrude into the territory of the shipyard, which is private property?

– Of course, some statements and kind words are not enough. Every year at its General assemblies class “Laser” verifies, clarifies and, where necessary, amends the rules of the class. Approved rules become part of the agreement between ILCA and manufacturers, the so-called Laser Construction Manual Agreement (LCMA). The Treaty recognizes the right for ILCA to monitor strict compliance of products with the class rules. Accordingly, the contract included the right to inspect production at any stage of the manufacture of boats.

– So why is it that the Laser Performance could ILCA in your shop?

– I propose to leave this question without comments. Firm blatantly ignores the terms of the contract, and that’s a fact. Draw your own conclusions.

– Well, so what will happen now with the class? With the riders?

Here were concluded two main issues. First – how to deal with a huge existing fleet “Lasers” and who will meet the needs of riders in the new material? And the second question – how will it affect the fate of “Laser” as the number of the Olympic program, referring to the two upcoming Olympic games? Which first?

Let’s start with the first. It is known that Laser Performance has been the main supplier of boats in Europe – the main consumer of “Lasers”. If the firm will cease to produce boats, how can we provide everyone the material part?

– First of all ILCA said that all the boats, released English, or any licensed firm until April 27, 2019, retain its rights and will be allowed at any competition of the Association. Let me remind you that at the present time, in addition to Laser Performance, license to build “Lasers” have firms in Japan and Australia. “We are confident that soon we will see new manufacturers class, – stressed the Executive Secretary of the Association Eric Fost. – The needs of the world in the “Lasers” will be satisfied certainly.”

– And if at the next Olympic games in Tokyo will go again talking about the fact that the material of the participants are not equal?

– I am sure that such talks will not arise. All participants of the Games-2020, and men’s and women’s singles, will be performing on boats, introducing the Japanese firm Performance Sailcraft Japan. The next two world Championships will be held in Japan and Australia – the countries which produced the license “Lasers” and that, according to Eric Fosta, will help to solve a temporary problem with the material part.

Your statements sound more than optimistic. Well, the conflict between the Association ILKA and “Laser Performance” will remain in history as an anecdote, as insignificant episode in the history of the sailing class?

– I must disappoint you. The problem class has not been exhausted, it’s only just beginning, especially with the participation of “Lasers” as “Equipment” (material) for two single rooms in the Olympic games 2020 and 2024 of years.

To begin with, the Association proposes and insists on a new class name. Instead of the title of Laser (Standard, radial, etc.) class is now called ILCA Dinghy. You say, Yes, God bless him, anyway, as they called the boat the “Laser” will be called.

That’s true, but not quite. Open the WS Rules and read: in the program of Olympic games 2020 is included: “Male solo (Dinghy) Laser”; “Female solo (Dinghy) Laser-radial” (Section 23.1.4). But then we read that each room of the Olympic program, the international Federation concludes the contract with the Class (Association) and/or the Manufacturer (Section 32.1.5). The contract is for four years until the next Games. The current 2017 contract in the new situation automatically becomes invalid. And not only in connection with the conflict between ILCA, and Laser Performance, but mainly because we are now dealing with ILCA Dinghy.

It’s only the name, the sign, the boat’s the same, nothing changes!

– Yes, the boat does not change, but the situation is completely new. How important is it emphasized in a statement made by the Board of Directors of WS together with a group of leading experts WS. The statement is published only on April 29. First, World Sailing says that the international Federation has nothing to do with the conflict, in form and content. Second, the WS stressed that all procedures for the election and approval of the Olympic classes will be strictly observed. This means that ILCA Dinghy will have to go through the whole procedure of inclusion in the Olympic program-2020, and particularly the Program-2024 again! Let me remind you that the program of the Games-2024 will be validated only in certain rooms (the Dinghy alone, male and female), but not equipment, i.e. class a sailing ships/projectiles. Specific classes of sailing ships will be named in November this year. Before that, this summer, will be the evaluation of the competition on which any class of boats/shells can act as a contender for Olympic status.

And what is your forecast, will the “Laser” in the program of Olympic games?

– Forecasts of the matter is absolutely justified, and necessary. But they need to build not on sand but on the basis of credible information. In mid-may in London will host the annual meeting of the WS, and there is no doubt that the question of “Laser” will occupy a Central place in the discussions. With this information, you can do quite accurate predictions. I promise to tell you everything I know and hope to return with optimistic information. Incidentally, before the meeting of the WS, it is important to know the mood and wishes of our Lazariston, the Board of the coaching team. This will help to defend the conference our interests.

Thank you for complete information. Don’t want to say a few words in conclusion?

– Really want! The class “Laser” is not just a new page, this is the era in world sailing. “Laser” was born as a result of friendly efforts of three outstanding riders: Bruce Kirby (draft), Ian Bruce (Builder) and Hans Fogh (sail). “Laser” is not just a boat it’s a concept, it is the ideas that the authors have invested in your project: simple construction body and arms, easy operation, safety, use on any small waters, transport without any problems (on car roof), affordability.

And the main idea behind the project was to make a strict monotype: whoever you were, getting “Laser”, you get exactly the same boat as any other. Along with such classes as the Finn, 470, Laser has opened a new era in sailing: to win should a MAN, a yachtsman, racer, and not the money invested in exclusive material.

We wish Laser, no matter how it is called now, and prosperity to the joy and benefit of all subsequent generations of young sailors!

The press service of the WFTU

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