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Int Laser Class announces seven new class builders

by ILCA/Sail-World.com/nz 26 Jan 2020 10:49 PST 27 January 2020
Laser Fleet - 2020 Sail Melbourne International, day 3 © Beau Outteridge

The International Laser Class Association has announced the seven new builders in the Northern Hemisphere have been appointed as the class moves to comply with European anti-trust law.

The Laser class with its tightly restricted builder licencing system has been at the forefront of moves for World Sailing to break the process where several Olympic classes.

Originally conceived to maintain the one design nature of the class, the system was in compliance before the class became Olympic, but has been in hot-water since the European Union started taking an interest in the builder licences for Olympic classes, following complaints from builders who had been excluded.

As a result of antitrust actions brought in Europe, and in order to comply with EU Regulations, World Sailing now requires that any interested party that meets the necessary technical qualifications and regulatory requirements must be able to manufacture and sell the boats named as equipment for the Olympic Games, the class says in a written statement. For ILCA, this World Sailing policy has required some changes in how builders are determined and approved to manufacturer class-legal equipment.

World Sailing’s Olympic Equipment Policy requires that the Olympic sailing classes have a process in place by which “any interested party who meets the necessary technical qualifications and regulatory requirements must be able to manufacture and sell Olympic equipment.” Further, the manufacturer selection process must be defined on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis (FRAND).

To implement World Sailing’s policy, ILCA has now established the necessary procedures for bringing on new builders, the class association says. The primary focus throughout this process is to maintain and ensure the one-design principle that is the foundation of our class – that all boats are built to the same strict standards regardless of the manufacturer.

ILCA has announced that, under the terms of the new builder approval procedure, seven manufacturers will now be offered provisional licenses to move forward in the builder application process. The provisional approvals come after the formal builder applications were reviewed by the evaluation panel appointed by ILCA, which is comprised of both class technical representatives and independent industry experts.

The manufacturers approved to move forward in the application process are (in alphabetical order): Devoti Sailing s.r.o. (Poland) Element 6 Evolution Co Ltd (Thailand) Nautivela srl (Italy) Ovington Boats Ltd (United Kingdom) Qindao Zou Inter Marine Co., Ltd (China) Rio tecna srl (Argentina) Zim Sailing (United States)

Each builder applicant is now subject to a further technical review to ensure compliance with the established class one-design principles. The new manufacturers will now be required to obtain certified molds and tooling from ILCA and produce a number of pre-production boats to verify the ability to manufacturer boats to the strict specifications and tolerances of the building manual and the class rules. Under the terms of the Olympic Equipment Policy, there are other applicants in the approval process at this time that may also receive provisional approval, the class says. ILCA will provide further updates as this process moves forward.

Missing from the list is the principal European builder, Laser Performance who had their licence removed by the International Laser Association after the class body claimed LP had refused to allow factory inspection visits to check compliance with the class construction manual. There is no mention either of Performance Sailcraft, the Oceania based builder. It is assumed their licences will continue and they will operate alongside the new builders.

The document is the mechanism used by the class to control the way in which a Laser may be constructed.

The process adopted by the Laser class in appointing new builders in multiple locations with no restrictions as to the territories in which they may sell is expected to be the model under which builders may be appointed for all Olympic classes. Currently only two classes - the Finn single hander and 470 two-hander used for three of the ten Olympic events, are in compliance from FRAND.

The seven builders are all announced in regions that were exclusive to Laser Performance in Europe, North America and Asia. Performance Sailcraft supplied Oceania under the previous arrangements, Performance Sailing Japan supplied Japan and Korea, and own the trademark Laser for those regions. LP supplied the rest of the world and owned the Laser trademark in those territories.

It is understood that longstanding legal action continues on various issues surrounding the designer, Performance Sailcraft and Laser Performance along with various entities controlled by them.

For the official statement posted by the International Laser Class Association click here.

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