Adam Finlayson wins first prize - Pt Chevalier CSC junior prizegiving Chris Mitchell
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand newsletter for 31st March 2011
For some time there has been 'information' circulating about the effect of an ownership struggle for design rights over the Laser class, designed by Canada's Bruce Kirby and adeptly put into production by Ian Bruce. The work of the Canadian duo became a model for the development of many other yachts of a genre which became known as a Single Manufacturer One Design. In other words the system of officials taking days over complex hull measurement of competitors' yachts before a major regatta were over, as the boats all came from the one set of base moulds and in external measurement were all the same.
That concept was taken a stage further by Kirby and Bruce and the company formed, Performance Sailcraft, to build and market the Laser. By using very tight restrictions on what gear could be used on a Laser a boat was launched that could be sailed at a World Championship by just turning up with your wetsuit. Yes, the boat from the local agent was identical to the one you sailed at home.
Backed by a strong class association, which again was unique at that time in the sailing world, the designers, builders, agents and sailors all worked together to protect and grow and incredibly simple concept into a highly successful class that has sold close to 200,000 boats and seems to be very safe in its position as an Olympic singlehander.
2008 Olympic Gold medalist, Paul Goodison,GBR 198605 in action at the 2010 Laser World Championship Paul Wyeth / RYA
But all that would now appear to be under a threat with a proposed rule change stemming from a dispute over ownership of the design rights, since sold by designer Bruce Kirby to interests associated with New Zealand's Spencer family.
The stance of the International Laser Association is interesting. A class vote on the matter spells out the benefits of voting 'Yes' for the proposed rule change, but says nothing on a 'No' vote or the consequences of retaining the status quo. There is no indication from the ILA as to which of the design claimants they will favour in the event of the right of approval of the official builder being given to the ILA and the International Sailing Federation (who are generally guided by the class association). Two thirds of the ILA members must vote for the rule change for it to pass.
We have the opening rounds of this breaking story in this edition of Sail-World, and will be featuring more on www.sail-world.com
Harken Schools Teams Racing Auckland Cup Daniel Johnston
Quite where this is headed is anyone's guess. Those associated with class administration and class rules will be aware of the ways in which the rights of existing sailors and boats can be protected through a process known as grandfathering. In terms of new boats however it is a different situation, and the risk is that a class that had as its greatest strength a very strict one design concept will be broken into three (two new designs plus the existing class).
Hopefully sanity will prevail and the interests of 200,000 exiting boats will be protected and the simple dream will once more be a reality, and continue to be the success story that it has been for the past almost 40 years.
Rolex International Regatta Day 3 Rolex/Ingrid Abery
There's plenty more local and international news in this edition, which we have caught up on a couple of stories that should have been posted earlier in the week.
We often hear of falling numbers in sailing, however take the time to read the story from Pt Chevalier Sailing Club, which has managed to build a very successful junior program of 70 sailors.
Forceracing have also announced a series of clinics, one of which will be staged before the 2011 Optimist Worlds in Napier and will feature Predictwind's Jon Bilger - one of New Zealand's outstanding small boat sailors who crossed over to the America's Cup and became one of the worlds top yacht racing meteorologists.
KB4girls 2011 World Tour KB4girls
Many thanks to those who have contributed to this edition, particularly those using our online submission and image loading facility which can be accessed by clicking here
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