Please select your home edition
Edition
Insun - AC Program

ISAF Laser intervention - Supply problems looming?

by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team on 1 May 2013
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, © Richard Langdon /Perth 2011 http://www.perth2011.com
The long running dispute between the designer of the Laser dinghy Bruce Kirby and one of the Laser builders LaserPerformance, the builder and supplier of Lasers into UK, Europe and North America, because of non-payment of design royalties is now much wider than ever before and now it appears that it’s likely to threaten supplies of Lasers.

On March 4, 2013, Bruce Kirby, Inc., filed a complaint in the U.S. Federal Court District of Connecticut, alleging unlawful counterfeiting of the Kirby dinghy by LaserPerformance principal Farzad Rastegar acting with and through LaserPerformance and its associated entities.

The case named the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) and ISAF alleging they assisted LaserPerformance by continuing to supply ISAF plaques to the builder, after Kirby had given them formal notice to stop.

On March 25th Legal Counsel for ISAF Jon Napier wrote to Jeff Martin, the Executive Secretary of ILCA, requesting that ILCA cease to issue ISAF plaques to LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited and Quarter Moon Inc. (the 'Builders') with immediate effect. Quoting exactly from the ISAF letter, ‘The reason for this decision is that ISAF has concluded, based on the correspondence and court papers received from Bruce Kirby’s attorneys, that the Builders are no longer licensed by Bruce Kirby and/or Bruce Kirby Inc. to build the Laser class boat (as required by the 1983 ISAF Agreement and our 1992 Plaque Agreement).’

The sticky issue that remained was that LPE, the owner of the Laser trademark in Europe and the USA, would obviously take legal action if anyone began selling Laser branded boats in those markets.

Kirby, in an attempt to break that deadlock proposed the Kirby Torch.

However it’s a matter of record that ISAF changed its mind, and headed 180 degrees from its previous position, citing the Kirby Torch dinghy announcement ‘as a fundamental breach of contractual arrangements between the parties concerned with the Laser class’. ISAF announced it had exercised its right to end those arrangements and said it would negotiate new arrangements directly with the ILCA.

‘On 23 April 2013 ISAF approved a proposed amendment to the Laser Class Rules which was approved by ILCA members in 2012. The amended rule permits ISAF and ILCA to approve builders of the Laser who have the right to use the Laser trademark.’

However it seems there are fundamental problems with the ISAF - ILCA Laser solutions to remove Bruce Kirby´s role in the Laser class.

There has been some unintended consequences it seems, with a major Laser supply crisis looming.

According to Performance Sailcraft Australia, (PSA) who have been building Lasers since 1973, the ISAF – ILCA proposal breaks all the legal rules, so that no builder will be able to supply a class legal Kirby designed boat (currently called a Laser).

Chris Caldecoat, the PSA General Manager have released the following statement today.

‘Performance Sailcraft Australia, Fundamental problems with ISAF-Laser Solutions

‘For 40 years PSA has been focusing on building good boats, in strict accordance with the Laser Construction Manual (LCM) and supporting the Class and its sailors. PSA is recognised as the most reputable and reliable Laser builder in the world.

‘PSA would like to continue this proud heritage in the manufacture of the Kirby designed boat.

‘PSA is not in breach of any of our agreements with Kirby, ILCA or ISAF and have been paying our royalties and dues to the designer Kirby, ILCA and ISAF in full.

‘PSA fails to understand why any Laser builder would knowingly breach their agreements with the designer, ISAF or the ILCA. PSA does not support such activity and renounces such behaviour vehemently.

‘As a current compliant builder of Laser boats, and an owner of the Laser Trade Mark, PSA has not been consulted by the ILCA or ISAF with respect to their proposal to keep issuing plaques to a boat building company that has failed to comply with their Laser builders contract and has lost the right to build the Kirby Designed boat. (As the Laser is referred to in the LCM.)

‘PSA does not support this action by the ILCA and ISAF, which is in contravention of the LCM.

‘Any changes to the LCM (including changes to the plaques) requires approval of all the signatories, these include Bruce Kirby Inc. and PSA. Without those signatures any boats built are not Class legal boats.

‘For ILCA and ISAF to attempt to change the rules regarding the manufacture of the Kirby designed boat (currently called a Laser) without due process and consideration of all stakeholders is contrary to the principles of our Class.

‘It is against the sailor’s best interests, the best interest of the builders who do comply with their contracts and support the Class at Olympic, World, Regional and National level, in fact the very future of the Class within ISAF and the Olympics.

‘PSA would urge all sailors and ISAF Member Nations to support designers and authorised builders across all classes of sailing by acknowledging the invaluable role they play within our sport in creating and developing the equipment necessary for us to go sailing at whatever level we choose.

‘It is up to the sailors to make their elected officials accountable for their actions and to ensure the system and the rules which have been developed over many decades, and have served the sport of sailing well, are respected in order to protect the very future of our sport.

Chris Caldecoat General Manager PSA.

After receiving this statement we asked Caldecoat just how ISAF proposed that PSA should proceed to build class legal Lasers, with the new regime in place.

We asked them that, he said. The very unhelpful reply was ‘Do what you have to do.`

We confirmed that PSA have asked for and been told they will not get the official Laser plaques they have used for 40 years with Bruce Kirby´s name on them, even though they are happily paying design royalties.

So to build Lasers, they would have to use the new non-Kirby plaques, which are now, as of today part of the US Federal court case in which they to date have had not part

It would seem that the only class legal Laser builders in the world is in a legal no man’s land.

With the ISAF mid-year conference in Copenhagen starting on May 9th, Sail-World understands that numbers of MNA´s are planning to ask ISAF to think very deeply about the immediate consequences of its actions, the legal risks for ISAF and the ramifications for dinghy design in coming years.

Today we will be asking Tracy Usher, the ILCA President, Jeff Martin, the ILCA Executive Secretary and Jerome Pells, the ISAF Secretary General to detail for the public record just how they propose existing builders PSA and Performance Sailcraft Japan, who have been paying Kirby´s design royalties as well as ISAF and ILCA fees, should proceed to build Lasers without risk of being drawn into the Bruce Kirby versus Laser Performance Europe, ISAF and ILCA court case.

We will publish their responses in full.

Wildwind 2016 660x82Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82Zhik AkzoNobelb 660x82

Related Articles

She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish
Posted on 24 Apr
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Bernasconi on expected winning factors in Bermuda
ETNZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie once the six teams entered in the 35th America's Cup. 'We have had a great run', he says. 'We've had a few hiccups along the way, as always. But the boat is going really well. We are getting through manoeuvres very well. And we think our straight line speed is good.'
Posted on 18 Apr
A Q&A with Nicole Breault about women’s match racing in the USA
I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about women’s match racing in the USA and about her upcoming Clinegatta. I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about the state of women’s match racing in the USA, and to also hear more about her upcoming Clinegatta, which is set to unfurl on the waters of San Francisco Bay this July, and which could be a great resource for other talented female match racers who are looking to sharpen their skills.
Posted on 17 Apr
America's Cup - Team NZ return fire at Coutts' social media bullets
Emirates Team New Zealand have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers Emirates Team NZ have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers in a media release on Thursday (NZT) over the team's daggerboard use. In the release, replayed by America's Cup Events Authority and Oracle Team USA CEO Sir Russell Coutts on his Facebook page. It was claimed that the Kiwi team had an issue with daggerboards and were using a rule they had not supported to keep sailing
Posted on 2 Apr
A Q&A with Charles Pessler, the regatta director of the legendary STIR
I corresponded with Charles Pessler, STIR’s regatta director, to learn about the event’s recent changes and evolutions. I recently corresponded via email with Charles “Chuck” Pessler, who is serving as the regatta director of the legendary STIR, to learn more about the changes and evolutions that have taken place at the event since my 2010 trip to racing paradise.
Posted on 22 Mar
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
A Q&A with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race
I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba. The 2017 Miami to Havana Race is set to begin on March 15 and promises high adventure-both sailing-related and cultural-for the sailors lucky enough to be participating in this historical-and for now legal-race. I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race and SORC race chairman, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba.
Posted on 13 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar