by Steve Perry
Earlier this fall, the NEISA Executive Committee approved a directive that has required the ICSA President to convene a special meeting of the ICSA Board of Directors to discuss the sponsorship contract with LaserPerformance (LP) and the manner in which it was negotiated. Notice of this meeting was sent out to the NEISA list serve on December 4th. The meeting is scheduled to take place tomorrow, December 11th.
It has been offered that the new sponsorship agreement mandates the use of LP brand boats in the spring semi final and championship regattas and that this constitutes a 'change in conditions' for these championships. This means that a host venue that does not have LP brand boats can't host these events. Each of the schools affected (MIT, Fordham, Columbia, SUNY Maritime, and Tufts) have been sent a direct email from the President of the ICSA stating that they would not be able to host a semi or final event using non LP/Vanguard boats.
It does not seem apparent that all regional conferences have received public notice of the upcoming meeting. Zim Sailing would urge those that have an opinion on the matter to send an email to their respective Board Members (http://collegesailing.org/contacts/) in advance of this meeting so each Board Member can act in the best interests of their representative conference.
Although the specifics of the agreement are confidential, the ICSA have shared the following salient points:
- LP will provide ICSA with fleets of new Lasers and Radials for the Singlehanded Championships
- LP will provide a cash contribution to ICSA
- LP will provide media support (i.e. video coverage)
- LP will now be the Official Boat Supplier for all of ICSA championships (including semifinals) except for match race. This new agreement requires all of these championships be held in LP or Vanguard built fleets of boats.
- The agreement is for eight years
There has been some opinion exchanged via Sailing Anarchy, Sailing Scuttlebutt forums, as well as the Sail1Design Airewaves.
Of interest is LP's response offering the following:
*'LaserPerformance has nothing to hide and should the ICSA decide that the contract is not in the best interest of its members, we would be happy to still continue our support for Collegiate sailing by providing the 36 Laser or Laser Radials to the ICSA at our own expense.'*
Obviously Zim Sailing is not in favor of this agreement. While the intent may not have been to create a monopoly, it certainly has. We believe the ICSA has a great opportunity to rescind the agreement, as LP has offered to do.
Singlehanded's would still be supplied boats and Double handed hosts would be free to buy and use whichever equipment met their needs the best. The media coverage could easily be sought via another sponsor. College Sailing offers a fantastic demographic to many large companies with 'real' marketing dollars. We believe energy drink, bank, and insurance companies, among many others, would be very attracted to the college sailing market.
Zim Sailing has worked very hard to support our growing customer base by building high quality durable boats and having the replacement parts needed to serve our customers. If there is an opportunity to further support college sailing we are eager to participate.