The ILCA Dinghy is Dead - Long Live the ...

ILCA Dinghy with World Sailing Plaque - in Kingston, Canada
There is a persistent rumor on social media that the ILCA Dinghy is dead.

The ILCA Dinghy was strongly present at the World Sailing meeting last May, as the MNAs overruled the vote of the equipment committee in favor of the RS Aero, and they endorsed instead, with a strong majority, the Laser AND the ILCA Dinghy - whatever name one chooses - as single-handed dinghy for the 2024 Olympics, as long as the Laser class was going to put its house in order and get the various builders sign anti-trust FRAND and other documents.

ILCA dinghies also made a remarkable appearance in Kingston, Ontario, as charters for the ILCA Youth Worlds (see picture). The ILCA stickers were soon removed from the boats, once pictures appeared on Instagram. The importation in Canada of these ILCAs / Lasers by Performance Sailcraft Australia and the international Laser class ILCA was heavily criticized by the head of LaserPerformance, who mentioned in a recent interview with Tom Ehman from Sailing Illustrated that this was a trademark infringement and that he would get them seized if they are not out of Canada after the Worlds.

Now, it seems that the ILCA (Laser class) has decided that ILCA was not a good replacement name for the Laser any longer. While the application for the ILCA dinghy trademark dates from June 8 2018, the ILCA dinghy name was officially announced in late April 2019 only.

Remember, on April 25, just prior to the World Sailing mid-year meeting, the Laser class ILCA proudly announced that « “ILCA Dinghy” Is New Face of World’s Most Popular Racing Boat. »

« It’s a big change for a racing class that hasn’t seen anything like this in our almost 50-year history, » said Class president Tracy Usher. He said that « the name change will apply to all three rig sizes allowed by the ILCA Class Rules (Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs) and the new class-legal sails for each rig will carry the updated ILCA logo. »

The announcement was soon rectified, after discontent from various European Laser associations which openly criticized the name change and called for the immediate resignation of the Laser class leadership.

Reluctantly, the international class finally agreed to proceed with a vote by the membership, as mandated in its class rules and constitution. The contentious vote was launched in early July and ended on July 31.

According to Sailing Illustrated, several credible leaks (from where could they originate? ...), indicate that there is an overwhelming majority for the Yes - a supposed guarantee for the boat to remain Olympic in 2024.

We have discussed elsewhere that this poll was thoroughly biased, conducted without any independent oversight (the Laser class ILCA being in blatant conflict of interest) and used a totally inappropriate web-based survey application instead of a professional online voting system.

The Survey Monkey application provided results in real time to the Laser class while the voting was taking place, enabling the Laser class to adjust its Yes campaign accordingly. The Survey Monkey app even allows the administrator of the vote -  the Laser class - to change votes if it desires to do so! It’s all in the help section of the Survey Monkey website.

ILCA Dinghies Arriving in Kingston, Canada
But this was not any longer a vote to change the name of the Laser to the ILCA Dinghy. It’s was a vote to allow « generic » boats to be produced, as a way to supposedly circumvent the Laser trademarks held by LaserPerformance and its sister corporation Velum.

As we explained in our previous coverage, that would allow for example the two remaining builders from Australia and Japan to export generic boats in Europe, North America and other regions where they are presently not allowed to export - because it constitutes an infringement to the Laser trademarks.

With the termination of LaserPerformance as a builder, this represents a great, multi-million $ business opportunity, not only for potential new builders, but also for those those two.

As discussed in « Fake Laser Sailboats at 2024 Paris Olympics? » those generic boats would be built according to the specification of the so called « Laser Construction Manual, » and they would be controlled by the International Laser Class Association ILCA).  But these boats would not be called Lasers.

Actually these generic boats could be called about anything but Lasers.

And of course, one expects virtually all sailors to continue to call them Lasers.

How else would they call those boats, if not Lasers?

The board of World Sailing is facing a difficult task. With the ongoing termination of LaserPerformance as a builder, and the likely legal battle between LaserPerformance and the ILCA over intellectual property rights, approving the Laser for 2024 is a risky decision.

Indeed, there simply may not be any real Lasers produced from now on for most of the world, and only Lasers built by or with the blessing of LaserPerformance would be allowed at the Olympic Games in 2024 to be held in France.

On the other side, confirming the ILCA Dinghy is also problematic. Yes the World Sailing Council approved the ILCA Dinghy last May - even if the official application for the Olympic slot to World Sailing only was for the Laser -, but it seems that the Laser class is not supporting the ILCA Dinghy name any longer.

It’s not totally clear why the ILCA (the class) has lost faith the ILCA (the dinghy), but it may also be because of trademark issues! Oh, didn’t they realize at the Laser class that, when it comes to sailing, ILCA stands for International LASER Class Association? :)

There is a difficult task ahead for the World Sailing board during their September 5th teleconference! How will they even refer to the boat during their conversation? The Laser, the ILCA, the “The Boat Previously Known as the Laser”?

The voting members of the World Sailing board are: Kim Andersen (DEN), President; Ana Sanchez (ESP), Vice-President; Nadine Stegenwalner (GER), Vice-President; Torben Grael (BRA), Vice-President; Jan Dawson (NZL),  Vice-President; Gary Jobson (USA), Vice-President; Quanhai Li (CHN), Vice-President;  W. Scott Perry (URU), Vice-President; and Yann Rocherieux (FRA).

Let’s have some sympathy for them on this occasion. They are really in a delicate spot!

And all the (Kirby) torches of the world may not be sufficient to enlighten them :)

But … here is another idea, as these generic boats can’t be called either Lasers or ILCAs, why not calling them « nobodies » — in reference to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western « My Name is Nobody. » ?

My Name is Nobody is all about a nobody who wants to become a somebody.

Nobody (played by Terence Hill) is hired to kill Jack Beauregard (played by Henri Fonda), yet they end up becoming friends and there is a happy ending.

Will the nobodies (generic / fake Lasers) become friends with the real Lasers, be governed by the Laser class ILCA, participate at joint regattas, including the 2024 Olympics, and even be built according the same construction manual?

Or is there a flaw in the script?


Further reading: Single-Handed Dinghies for the 2024 Olympics: 3 Options for World Sailing

Watch famous scenes of My Name is Nobody: the Drinking Contest, the Duel, and the Urinal Scene.

My Name is Nobody official trailer:

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