Laser Class - This year, 40 years after Canadian designer Bruce Kirby launched the most successful boat ever, the 200,000 Laser dinghy has been sold. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all would be rosy in the Laser World, but it’s not.
Yesterday, some 16,000 registered Laser sailors around the world received an email from the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) asking them to immediately vote on what is probably the largest change ever in the history of the class.
A rule change which, if successful, would remove the influence of the Laser designer Kirby and the company he founded Kirby Inc and its current owners from the Class Rules. You can read the proposed changes here
To make a class rule change requires two thirds of the online vote.
Immediately after receipt of that missive, the Laser Class forum received a No Brainer message from one Laser sailor, but then the tide seemed to have turned, with skeptical sailors wanting more information.
The whole subject rapidly turned serious when one of the ILCA Advisory Council Members, Australian Chris Caldecoat, who is also the General Manager of the Asia Pacific Laser builder Performance Sailcraft Australasia wrote'
‘I have been asked by my sailing colleagues why, as an Advisory Council member, I would support this puzzling resolution.
‘I want to make it clear I DID NOT SUPPORT this proposed rule change and VOTED AGAINST it.
‘Let me share with you the facts.
‘I voted against this rule change as I believe this is not in the best interest of the Class or the International Sailing fraternity.
‘From my knowledge of the events, Heini Wellman and Jeff Martin's communication with members is definitely wanting in content and could be construed as misleading.
‘Laser sailors deserve the respect of a detailed and complete explanation.
‘If there is a genuine basis to put a change of this magnitude to the class membership, we deserve a far more detailed case for Yes and No vote.
‘Think about how in democratic societies referendums are run, there is a case for the Yes put out to the World and a case for the No that is explored publically, then there is a properly constituted vote.
‘This is not what has happened here and right now there is no need for us as sailors to be pushed into making hasty decisions.
‘I believe the class is spending your money on issues that it should not get involved in.
‘What is the implication for all designers of all classes around the world under ISAF’s umbrella if a rule like this was to be passed? ‘
Overnight Sail-World.com has spoken at length to representatives from Global Sailing and to Jeff Martin from the ILCA and now Bruce Kirby who is very much against the proposed change and will report on those conversations in the next 24 hours.
Certainly the interviews we have conducted so far show there is much more to this issue than first meets the eye and the growing body of calls to wait for more information before voting do seem justified.
And it seems to be getting worse. In the last few hours, we've been advised that numbers of the Laser sailors who followed the ILCA urging and voted early, have now been asking Class representatives, with the benefit of more knowledge asked how can they change their vote.
Watch this space!!