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Sail-World NZ - April 15: Laser ruckus.. Am Cup plans take shape


Sail-World NZ - April 15, 2019: Laser turmoil..Cup plans take shape..Genoa awaits

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The Finn class turned on another spectacular sailing display in the Medal race - Trofeo Princesa Sofia, 2019 - photo © Robert Deaves / Finn Class

Dear Recipient Name

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for April 15, 2019

Most of the main points of interest of the past week have been off the water, rather than who grabbed the right wind shift at which time and won the regatta.

Laser's Olympic future?

The first is the fate of the Laser class, and the outcome of World Sailing's recent trials to select the 2024 Olympic Singlehander (One Person Dinghy).

Laser Radial start - 2008 Olympic Regatta - Qingdao - photo © Richard Gladwell
Laser Radial start - 2008 Olympic Regatta - Qingdao - The class say they will be staying with the standard rigs - photo © Richard Gladwell

As was reported in Sail-World, the final day of the trials took place without the Laser. The most accomplished sailor in the Trial, Pavlos Kontides, is the current World Champion. The feedback we received from one source was that while the Laser was the slowest of the four boats on trial that margin was not so significant as to be a reason for not selecting the class.

The Laser at the Evaluation was trialled with the Standard rig and the Radial rig. The new Bethwaite rigs were not trialled. The stance of the Laser owners association is only to introduce new rigs in the same conservative way as the other rig variations have been tested and adopted.

Whether that is acceptable to the panjandrums of World Sailing is another matter.

The difficulty that the Laser (and all the other Single Manufacturer One Design) class face is that it must comply with World Sailing's FRAND policy (Fair Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory). It means that the building and supply of any Olympic class must have competitive market forces - there must be multiple builders and they must compete on price with no agreed price list.

Squally times lie ahead for what was known as the Laser class - photo © Richard Gladwell
Squally times ahead for what was known as the Laser class - photo © Richard Gladwell

The other classes on the list, should one of those be selected also have to be FRAND compliant.

The Laser's situation became a lot more complicated when the International Laser Class Association cancelled the building licence of the European builder of the class at the beginning of April - soon after the Evaluation Trials were completed.

For the past couple of weeks, there has been an exchange of media releases between the two factions in what is becoming a very public and messy divorce. And with World Sailing due to make a decision on the equipment for the One Person Dinghy at their Mid-Year meeting at the Chelsea Football Club in London in four weeks.

Success or distress? The Spanish Womens Matchracing team return to Weymouth Olympic Centre after winning the Gold Medal in the 2012 Sailing Olympics - three months later the Event was dropped after just one Olympic cycle. More change is on its way for 2024  - photo © Richard Gladwell
Success or distress? The Spanish Womens Matchracing team return to Weymouth Olympic Centre after winning the Gold Medal in August 2012 - three months later the Event was dropped after just one Olympic cycle. More change is on the way for 2024 - photo © Richard Gladwell

LaserPerformance, as the England based builder, claims 85% of the world market, and own the Laser (trade) marks in all countries except Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea.

Long story short is that the largest class in sailing is in turmoil - and right on the eve of a vital Olympic equipment selection decision.

The only certainty is that the Laser class will have to change its name - a new class and class organisation will have to be formed, and international class status have to be given by World Sailing - almost without having sailed a race.

LaserPerformance assert they have the trademark rights to the words and marks for the Laser class in all territories except Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea. - photo © Richard Gladwell
LaserPerformance assert they have the trademark rights to the words and marks for the Laser class in all territories except Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea. - photo © Richard Gladwell

Then there is the not so minor matter of appointing a new builder network, and for them to gear up with moulds and tooling - bearing in mind that the Laser is a Single Manufacturer One Design and all boats must be identical at the point they leave the factory.

The good news for the current 215,000 boat Laser fleet is that all boats displaying building plaques will be bought across to the new class, regardless of which class builder was involved. The class association is putting on a brave face, saying it is business almost as usual.

It remains to be seen as to what legal action, if any, that LaserPerformance will take against the International Laser Class Association.

DutchSail's Simeon Tienpont talks with 1News' Abby Wilson - with the Emirates Team NZ base in the background - photo © Richard Gladwell
DutchSail's Simeon Tienpont talks with 1News' Abby Wilson - time is starting to get tight for the Late Challengers - photo © Richard Gladwell

America's Cup - Build deadline looms

Crunch time is also not too far away for the Late Challengers for the America's Cup - two, in particular, being Malta Altus Challenge and DutchSail, who have yet to commence boat construction.

Ominously a new Protocol change was posted late in the week, which tidies up an ambiguity in the Protocol for those who are in default on entry fee payments.

The Defender, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, probably taking the lead from Emirates Team New Zealand appear to have taken a rather relaxed view on when Entry Fees, Late Fees and Performance Bond should be paid. For a Late Challenger, this totals a cool $4million - the same as it did in the last America's Cup.

The latest change to the Protocol provides a mechanism for the Arbitration Panel to apply a discretionary penalty depending on the nature and manner of the Fees payment breach. Ultimately the Arbitration Panel can exclude the competitor from the regatta.

American Magic - photo © WILL RICKETSON
American Magic's development boat is a half scale development boat for an AC75 - photo © Will Ricketson

It also removes the voting eligibility of teams who are behind in their payments - and in particular their ability to vote on AC75 Class rule changes.

For the group of Late Challengers, the rule change is somewhat moot. If they are staying in the Cup, time is starting to run out fast - boat construction needs to get underway - and design work before that, notwithstanding that they may obtain one of Emirates Team New Zealand's packages on offer.

In this edition, we feature an interview conducted by the doyen of yachting commentators, Peter Montgomery, with Emirates Team New Zealand's COO, Kevin Shoebridge, and broadcast on Radio Sport.

American Magic's 38ft test boat designed to be a half-scale AC75 shows the two foil arms in the lowered position and rudder aileron. When foiling the AC75 will balance on just one foil and the aileron. - photo © Amory Ross
American Magic's 38ft test boat designed to be a half-scale AC75 shows the two foil arms in the lowered position and rudder aileron. When foiling the AC75 will balance on just one foil and the aileron. - photo © Amory Ross

Shoebridge confirms that the first event in the America's Cup World Series will now be held in Cagliari, Sardinia in April, probably late April, followed by another in June - location likely to be Europe /USA, with another in July, and now a fourth likely for Auckland in August 2020. That is the "favoured" plan at present.

The elongated timetable means that for the Super Teams a the summer of 2019/20 is a more feasible option. As noted in the story with some smart logistics, it should be possible for the two boat teams to position one boat in Auckland and then have the other on the road, so to speak, doing the ACWS circuit.

Kevin Shoebridge, Grant Dalton, Peter Burling and Glenn Ashby at the America's Cup Presentation, Bermuda June 26, 2017 - photo © Richard Gladwell
Kevin Shoebridge, Grant Dalton, Peter Burling and Glenn Ashby at the America's Cup Presentation, Bermuda June 26, 2017 - almost two years ago. - photo © Richard Gladwell

Part of the decision is whether they want to risk running their race boat on the America's Cup World Series circuit, and incurring the risk of damage while racing or during the pack-in and pack-out phases. Plus there is obviously the dead-time of shipping between venues - 53 days from Auckland to Europe.

Add that up around the circuit, and it is a lot of downtime that most would rather spend working up their raceboat than training in their first launched development boat.

The teams are allowed to launch their second AC75 after February 15, 2020, and if they hit that early date - will have their second boat complete, before they have even raced their first. The way the ACWS circuit was first set up the teams would have been sailing for six months between racing in the first ACWS regatta and that early launch date.

The damage suffered by Emirates Team New Zealand was clearly more than a ``love-tap`` - photo © Emirates Team New Zealand
The damage suffered by Emirates Team New Zealand after a "love tap" underlines the risks involved in practice racing by a team in their race boat. - photo © Emirates Team New Zealand

But looking at it another way, Emirates Team New Zealand only had their first racing experience in the AC50 in the practice sessions just before the start of the 2017 America's Cup. They were shunted in one of those races - underlining the perils of sailing your race boat in practice racing.

The bases in Auckland are due to be handed over to the three Super Teams in August 2019 and from that time they can start building their bases and move in to begin sailing operations. The Luna Rossa base is due to be handed over in September 2019 and is said to be having a spectacular base build to the design of noted Italian architect, octogenarian Renzo Piano.

It is likely to remain as a permanent legacy of the America's Cup.

Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Point, venue for the 36th America's Cup, Auckland, New Zealand - photo © Wynyard Edge Alliance
Hobson Wharf in the forground will be extended and will have the spectacular Luna Rossa base - likely to become a permanent fixture - 36th America's Cup, Auckland, New Zealand - photo © Wynyard Edge Alliance

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see below.

Please send your event or any other reports or stories to with a copy to

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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Olivia Christie (NZL) gybes at the leeward mark - 2016 AON Youth Worlds, Torbay sailing Club - photo © Richard Gladwell
Olivia Christie (NZL) gybes at the leeward mark - 2016 AON Youth Worlds, preserving the Laser Radial as a Youth boat is a major concern for most sailing programs - photo © Richard Gladwell

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Josh Junior - Medal race - Finn class - Trofeo Princesa Sofia, 2019 - photo © Robert Deaves / Finn Class
Josh Junior - Medal race - Finn class - Trofeo Princesa Sofia, 2019 - photo © Robert Deaves / Finn Class

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Andy Maloney - Finn - NZL Sailing Team - Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar - Day 6- April 6, 2019 - photo © Sailing Energy
Andy Maloney - Finn - NZL Sailing Team - the inability of several classes to sail on the final day of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar has attracted comment in the Italian media - photo © Sailing Energy

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Alex Maloney and Molly Meech - 49erFX - NZL Sailing Team - Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar - Day 3 - April 3, 2019 - photo © Sailing Energy
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech - 49erFX - NZL Sailing Team will be competing at the Sailing World Cup Genoa this week - photo © Sailing Energy

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