OpEd: European Laser Class Association goes public with their disagreement with ILCA's decision
MONTREAL (#1203) – The European Laser Class Association, EurILCA, has reacted strongly to the removal of LaserPerformance as an approved builder of the International Laser Class (ILCA). Yesterday, EurILCA issued a statement stressing that Europe represents almost 70% of Laser sailors in the world, and saying that the removal of LaserPerformance, which is likely to be contested in lengthy litigation, was "a surprise for a lot of sailors, class officers and Laser dealers."
EurILCA said that they proposed to mediate the dispute between ILCA and LaserPerformance, and that their offer was refused.
EurILCA stated that the key to resolving the dispute is the adoption of a Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) policy that would allow several builders to compete within the same regions. This is also sought by World Sailing and no doubt will be a central issue in the selection of the single-handed dinghies (Men and Women) for the 2024 Olympics.
"EurILCA wishes the Laser to stay Olympic. EurILCA believes that the outcome of the recent sea trials in Valencia was very positive and puts the Laser into a strong position to be selected for [continue in] the Olympics."
Regarding the issue of access to LaserPerformance to allow ILCA to inspect their building facilities, the EurILCA continues, "The reason for the inspection was not that the Lasers built by LPE were illegal….EurILCA would like to point out that boats from each current builder (PS Australia or PS Japan) or past builder LPE are all equivalent and very well finished."
While acknowledging supply issues in some regions including North and South America, the statement indicates that there are no supply problems in Europe and that there is a good relationship between the class, the dealers and LaserPerformance.
Interestingly, EurILCA also insists in its statement that any new rig should be submitted to a membership vote, while ILCA seems gearing up to introduce the Australian C5, C6 and C8 rigs through a change in the builders manual – notwithstanding that LaserPerformance recently announced its own new "ARC" rigs, which are supposedly hitting the market next month.
The President of the German Laser Class Association (Deutsche Laserklasse DLAS), Alexandra Behrens, also weighed in on the controversy yesterday with a statement of her own. She asserts that the actual reason that ILCA terminated LaserPerformance was not the refusal of LaserPerformance to allow an inspection of the building facilities, but that LaserPerformance refuses to accept a Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminative agreement that would be acceptable to World Sailing.
Ms Behrens also criticized the ILCA’s decision to terminate LaserPerformance, by far the largest Laser builder in the world, saying:
+ ILCA refused to accept their offer of mediation on multiple occasions;
+ "A replacement for LaserPerformance is not yet in sight;" and
+ ILCA's actions will result in a significant deterioration of the supply of class-legal Lasers in Europe and beyond, with a supply from the ILCA-approved Australian boat-builder seen as "impractical and expensive."
The DLAS President also stated, "If everything goes according to the plans of the ILCA, we will soon be sailing "The Boat Formerly Known as the Laser" inasmuch as, she asserts, the brand rights are owned by LaserPerformance not ILCA.
Read the EurILCA statement in full, and much more about this mess, at:
Read the German Laser Class President's statement (in Deutsch) in full here.
[The foregoing was updated on 2019-04-05 at the request of the President of the German Laser Class Association (DLAS) to reflect that the statement on their website was that of the President, not necessarily the position of the DLAS. –TFE]
About the author: Jean-Pierre Kiekens (BEL/CAN) is a Montreal-based former university lecturer in development and
agricultural economics. One of his present areas of interest is the development of sustainable and healthy food policies. He is also a sailor, having competed in the Laser and the Snipe in his native Belgium while at university, and as a master sailor in North America at various national and international events. For the past years, Jean-Pierre has followed the evolution of his son, Jean-René, who is now 14 and represented Canada at the 2018 Optimist Worlds in Cyprus - check his Facebook page http://fb.com/jrsailing. Jean-Pierre previously followed the evolution of his daughter, Alexandra, who is now 19 and who sailed the Club 420 and, briefly, the Laser Radial, after the Optimist, and who has temporarily put on hold her sailing to focus on her industrial engineering studies. M. Kiekens' views are not necessarily those of Sailing Illustrated or your Ed., but then again they may be; regardless J-P provides some refreshing insight that we thought deserved airing here. Our appreciation to Jean-Pierre for his continuing contributions. –TFE