Laser Rule Change: How the Yes « Won »

We have already analyzed with some detail in a previous post how the vote organized by the Laser class to allow new builders and boats bearing no name or other names such as « ILCA Dinghy » was clearly questionable.

The Laser class was in straight conflict of interest on this matter and did not organize a fair vote. The support they chose - the Survey Monkey app - is also clearly questionable.

The Laser class submitted the provisional results of the vote to World Sailing, to get a formal approval of the rule change. Several countries, such as Italy, have not yet returned their ballots.

The provisional results give 81% for the Yes, way more than the required two third majority.

We were provided some pictures from the promotion that was done in July in Kingston by the Laser class in favor of the yes.

The image in caption is a good example of the confusion.

The message by the Laser class was: « Vote "Yes" here to make sure Laser stays Olympic in 2024 and 2028. »

In other words, the Laser class asked sailors, mostly youth sailors at the Laser Radial Worlds, to vote Yes for the Laser to stay Olympic. Who among Laser sailors could vote against that?

But this is of course highly misleading, as the actual rule change is about allowing the boat to be renamed with a name such as "ILCA Dinghy" or marketed as unbranded / generic equipment.

ILCA Dinghies from Australia were actually already used at the Radial Worlds in Kingston. They will be used in a few days again, for the Laser 4.7 Worlds. These ILCA Dinghies are not an equipment presently recognized by World Sailing.

The situation is so serious that they may actually be seized by LaserPerformance.

See our article « Suspense in Kingston: Will the Aussie ILCA Dinghies / Lasers be Sold, or Seized? »

Both for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics, without the consent of LaserPerformance / Velum, which hold the Laser trademarks, there can’t be any boats called Lasers at the Olympics.

But the Laser class promoted the Yes to the class rule change by confusing the young sailors.

On its website, the Laser class promoted the yes to « Make sure that our class will remain in the Olympics. »

But when it came to communicating to youth sailors in Kingston, the class promoted the yes to « Make sure Laser stays Olympic in 2024 and 2028. »

Again: who would consider a vote other than a yes, when confronted to such question?

As analyzed, there are many many flaws in this Survey Monkey vote, which resembles more a farce than an actual vote.

But the vote has huge commercial implications for the various builders.

For example, the vote would allow the Australian ILCA Dinghies to be exported in all the regions where LaserPerformance / Velum hold the Laser trademarks, and the ILCA Dinghies would participate in ILCA / Laser class regattas.

At the same time, LaserPerformance, which had until recently 80% of the global market for Lasers, remains « terminated » by the Laser class, unless it accepts the terms decided by the class to be approved again as a builder.

And this has little to do with the quality of the boats - LaserPerformance boats were used for example at the World Sailing Youth Worlds in Poland.

These commercial matters obviously go well beyond the question of keeping the boat Olympic. It's a multi-million dollar business that is at stake.

The worth of the trademarks associated with the Laser name and logo - probably the most recognized brand in sailing - is also at stake.

Is the Laser brand worth millions of dollars? Or just a few cents?

The anticipated litigation in Kingston may be just a first iteration in a long legal process.

But be reassured, soon we will get an independent audit report that will most probably confirm that everything is fine!

« ILCA will then engage an independent audit to certify the results » states the Laser class announcement.

Will they hire the same auditors used by World Sailing for the Sarasota vote that led to the exclusion of the Finn from the 2024 Olympics?

Stay tuned!

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