Laser Kerfuffle

Bay Area Laser sailor Emilio Castelli called Folsom Lake Yacht Club’s Camellia Cup on April 27-28 “the first ILCA Dinghy regatta.” Whaaaat?

Laser start
Among the boats racing over the weekend on Folsom Lake were these ILCA Dinghies. Huh? Those look like Lasers. (We’ll have more from the Camellia Cup in the June issue of Latitude 38.)
© 2019 John Poimiroo

Last month, the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) announced that it was terminating the agreement with LaserPerformance, a longtime builder of Lasers. ILCA claimed that LaserPerformance had 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. But, there’s a problem. LaserPerformance holds the right to the Laser trademark. ILCA needed to change the name of the new boats. Starting on April 25, all new, class-approved boats will be sold and raced with the name “ILCA Dinghy.” (Hmmmm, does ILCA still stand for “International Laser Class Association?”) New class-legal sails for all rig sizes will carry an ILCA logo instead of the ubiquitous red Laser graphic.

The stakes are high in this conflict, most notably the future of the class’s inclusion in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Currently the Laser and Laser Radial are the ‘equipment’ for the men’s and women’s one-person dinghy events.

Based in Connecticut and the UK, LaserPerformance builds Lasers, Sunfish, 420s, FJs, Darts and other small boats. Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce developed the Laser in 1969-1971. ILCA was founded in 1972. In 2007, Performance Sailcraft Europe and Vanguard Sailboats merged to create LaserPerformance. ILCA posted an FAQ about all this on April 6, and ILCA president Tracy Usher, a Bay Area sailor, addresses our readers in a Letter coming out in the May issue of Latitude 38 on May 1.

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