SAN FRANCISCO (#1123) – One hears from two normally highly reliable sources that World Sailing has long since all but inked a deal with the owners of L30 One Design as the yacht to be used in a mixed-gender offshore event in the 2024 Olympics, notwithstanding that such an event was rejected by the World Sailing Council at the organization's Midyear Meeting in London last May.
That may explain why the WS Board, led by President Kim Andersen (DEN) and the non-sailing CEO Andy Hunt (GBR), put in what appeared to many – including Sail-World.com's Richard Gladwell – to be a desperate, last-minute submission to try to resurrect such an event the day before the start of 2018 AGM now taking place in Sarasota, Florida. This week the Board's surprise, late submission has received mixed reviews at best, and is being debated this weekend by the Council and, likely, the individual member nations at the AGM on Sunday.
The L30 website states that the "idea and concept" is that of Rodion Mykhailovych Luka (UKR); the design is by Andrej Justin (SLO) of Justin Yacht Design, who also designed the RC44; and Leonid Fakeyev (UKR) is listed as "Partner."
One also hears that an L30 was prominently displayed at the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, DEN in August, and that an announcement about World Sailing's hook-up with the Class had been scheduled during the regatta for August 9th. However, it was abruptly canceled for reasons not yet clear.
We note that it was on August 3rd that WS officials met with the Italian AGCM – "Authority that Guarantees Competition in the Market" – about the complaint being brought by two Italian-based boat manufacturers. On Wednesday, the European Union notified World Sailing that they, too, were investigating WS for alleged Anti-Trust practices, news of which was first reported here on Sailing Illustrated on Wednesday evening.
According to the L30 website, the yachts will be built at SVP Yachts in Slovenia as a SMOD – single-manufacturer one design.
On our SI "Come Within Hail" live webcast yesterday, our special guest (live via Skype from Sarasota) was esteemed sailor-lawyer Joe Bainton (USA) who explained and analyzed the EU's anti-trust complaint against World Sailing. In less that 24 hours that webcast has garnered over 4,000 views. Watch a replay here.
As far as your Ed. is aware, only a few L30s have been produced, there are no class rules, no class association, no owners outside of the company producing the boats, and no regattas have been held. The L30 has not been recognized as an international class by World Sailing because, obviously, it cannot so qualify under WS regs.
If true, this clearly is an extraordinary and complete leap of faith by World Sailing's top-down leadership, the likes of which has never been seen in the long history of Olympic sailing and class selection.
More on all this on today's TGIF with TFE live webcast at 1300 PDT / 1600 EDT / 2000 UTC on our Sailing Illustrated Facebook page. In the meantime we are reaching out to the L30 people and World Sailing for comment.
Videos and the photos above, courtesy of the L30 website.