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2024 Olympics: Int Laser class declares divorce-vote outcome

by Richard Gladwell 12 Aug 2019 21:21 PDT 13 August 2019
The Laser will be the Mens and Womens One Person Dinghy at the 2024 Olympics, provided they can get their legal affairs resolved by August 1, 2019 © Richard Gladwell

The International Laser Class Association has declared the outcome of the vote on the contentious class rule change, as being 79% in favour with only 21% against.

The Class Rules for the International Laser class can now be modified to remove any reference to the trademark holder (of which there are five entities and three territories involved). That move, in turn, will allow the International Laser Class to licence new builders to construct boats that comply with the Laser Construction Manual.

The outcome of the vote is not clear, with the class saying the currently confirmed vote is 81% "Yes" and 19% "No". But the ILCA statement says that there are still votes to be verified dropping the expected final outcome to 79% "Yes" and 21% "No". However the graphic accompanying the official statement shows a 69% "Yes" and 31% "No".

A 66% "Yes" vote was required to make the Rule change - and under all three scenarios that threshold has been reached.

The Rule change still requires the approval of World Sailing.

It is not clear what will happen with the use of the class name and insignia. In New Zealand and Australia, the trademark rights are owned by Performance Sailcraft Australia. In Japan and Korea, the trademark rights are owned by Performance Sailcraft Japan, in the rest of the world, the trademark rights are owned by LaserPerformance. In the most extreme combination, the Laser can continue to use the marks and name in Oceania, Japan and Korea, and in the rest of the world would be required to sail and be marketed using a different name and insignia.

While the Int Laser Class Association is expected to move to appoint new class builders, data released by World Sailing showed that the number of building plaques issued in 2018 was well down on previously estimated building numbers. The 470 had the second-highest number of Building Plaques issued with 123 new boats in 2018. 49ers had 115 new plaques, Finn 97 plaques and the Nacra 17 had just 59 new building plaques issued worldwide in 2018.

Most estimates had worked off an annual production of 2,000 new boats. However, Building Plaque numbers were only 1,200 for 2018 or 60% of the estimate. If correct that lower number will make the economics of new Laser production more difficult, particularly as a competitive building and free supply market has to be established to satisfy the requirements of EU Anti-Trust regulation.

The statement issued by the International Laser Class Association reads:

The proposed change to the ILCA Class Rules to modify the definition of a builder has been approved by more than two-thirds of the members responding to the published ballot. Voting concluded on 31 July and, as with all rule change votes, the ballots were then verified with the ILCA District associations to confirm whether each voter is a current member of the class.

Although the verification process is ongoing, with a few districts yet to confirm their voting members, enough ballots have been verified to determine with mathematical certainty the result of the vote - that the two-thirds majority required to amend the class rules has been exceeded and the rule change proposal has been approved.

Of the currently confirmed votes, the result is 81% YES, 19% NO. Based on the ballots remaining to be confirmed, it is expected that the final result will be approximately 79% YES, 21% NO.

Based on these results, ILCA has submitted the rule change proposal to World Sailing as required under World Sailing Regulation 10, and the change will go into immediate effect after World Sailing confirmation is received.

ILCA will continue to work with the member Districts to verify the remaining ballots to obtain the final voting results, and ILCA will then engage an independent audit to certify the results.

ILCA would like to thank all the members who participated in the rule change voting process and the member districts for their timely verification of the ballots.

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