New Laser Class Announced

A new Laser class, called « The Laser Class » - presented as « a class for sailors, by sailors » - was announced today, on the occasion of the RYA Dinghy Show in London.

Note: if you haven't done so yet, please read Sailing and the Coronavirus.

The class is supported by a number of Laser sailors until now associated with  EurILCA / ILCA, as well as UK Laser builder LaserPerformance.

The Laser Class Interim President is Heini Wellman, from Switzerland, who is the immediate past president of the International Laser Class Association (ILCA).

The Laser Class is presented to be a class « For sailors, by sailors - with the original Laser spirit in One Design dinghies. »

« Welcome to The Laser Class. Or should I say, welcome to the original One Design Laser Class that we all wanted. I wish we didn’t have to go down this road but it’s time that the largest racing dinghy class also be the most democratic and the most respected. So many around the world are passionate about our beloved Laser boat and want to be part of a community where they can have their voice heard. The Laser Class is your home. Join us and let us go back to the joy of Laser sailing. » stated Heini Wellman.

« We aim to be the Original Laser Class providing everything from beginners up to equal One Design racing with the Laser Formula (Standard, Radial, and 4.7 Rigs) all around the world focusing on Youth, Club and Master-Sailors. TLC is dedicated to the strict One Design Laser and maintaining low-cost accessibility to Laser sailing with regular supply and competitive prices of boats and parts. »

The Laser Class has a Interim Advisory Board comprised of well-known Laser sailors, many of them having held senior positions in ILCA / EurILCA:

Interim Executive Secretary
Beat Heinz

Interim Advisory Members
Monica Azon
Charles Campion
George Drougas
Carlos de Echavarri
Macrino Macri (technical consultant)
Francesco Marrai
Cesar Sierhuis
Jorge Smolar
Jan-Williams Wolters

Here is what The Laser Class intends to achieve, in 12 points.

1. A democratic and transparent class serving our members, regardless of gender, ability, geography or income.
2. Promote the iconic Laser brand and maintain Laser’s standing as the world’s most popular single-handed racing dinghy, particularly for the Olympics.
3. Support and help grow the Laser class for Standard, Radial and 4.7 sailors all around the world, based strictly on One Design criteria.
4. Ensure accessibility by keeping the cost of Laser boats and parts as low as possible, without compromising on quality and safety.
5. Support innovation that will improve quality and safety, within the framework of One Design principles. All changes must be approved by membership majority.
6. Help prepare and support plans for all stages of sailing development: from junior and youth sailing to club, masters and ultimately Olympic racing.
7. Organize and sponsor regattas and racing events
8. Establish programs to develop Laser sailing in under-represented regions of the world
9. Partner with builders and sponsors to support Laser sailing growth plans and events
10. Advocate and be an information source for sailors
11. Be environmentally sensitive and responsible in all initiatives and activities
12. And most important, support Laser sailors to build a responsible and engaged community that has the love of Laser sailing as a common bond.

Membership in the new class is free for the first two years. Membership will provide access to exclusive discounted Laser products.

The class intends actively recruit members in the coming months as well as to seek World Sailing approval.

While Olympic athletes will need to stay with the existing International Laser Class Association governing racing in the ILCA Dinghies, the intention of The Laser Class is to provide racing opportunities for non-Olympic sailing, particularly youth and master sailing.

The Laser Class emphasizes One Design sailing.

« PSA has publicly indicated that they recently made changes to their Laser boat.  These changes make ILCA PSA boats non-compliant. »

ILCA Dinghies built by the Japanese and Australian builders, post 2019, as well as those to be built by new ILCA approved builders, will not be allowed to compete at The Laser Class events.

The Japanese and the Australian builders are however invited to apply to become builders in their respective Laser trademark territories, so there may be opportunities for Devoti Sailing, ZIM and others to be approved, through some form of licensing, but this remains to be seen.

As can be read in the media release below, there is considerable discontent with the way the International Laser Class Association handles its affairs, and this is the key rationale for the new class.

Find more about The Laser Class at: https://www.thelaserclass.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Laser-Class-109535350611041/

MEDIA RELEASE

Introducing The Laser Class – a class for sailors, by sailors.

Welcome to The Laser Class, established by concerned sailors with a desire to save the iconic One Design Laser boat and to reconstitute the original Laser Class as a world-class organization that represents and serves its community. The old class is dominated by a minority who are making key decisions in secret and are not accountable to the sailing community they represent. They refuse to share information even with some of their own World Council members and treat those who represent the sailing majority with contempt.

These decisions are undermining One Design principles, while arbitrarily increasing fees for boats and parts that will significantly increase costs to sailors. Where are these fees going and who is benefiting? The construction of the Laser has already been changed, making 200,000 older Laser boats not adhere to One Design criteria. The lack of transparency is obvious, as well as the concern that there are commercial interests at play. Our pleas are ignored as they rapidly move to remove the Laser brand, limit supplies, and undermine One Design principles. Internal change will never happen because the old class constitution has no requirements for management term limits or for transparency. So, we had to act to save our class.

The Laser Class aims to create a class that supports Laser sailors and rebuilds the Laser brand as the global iconic leader in sailing as well as THE male and female single-handed dinghy for the Olympics. TLC is dedicated to the strict One Design Laser and maintaining low-cost accessibility to Laser sailing with regular supply and competitive prices of boats and parts. Our constitution will ensure better geographic and gender representation, introduce term limits, adhere to a strong code of ethics with information sharing, and much more. The Laser Class will apply for class recognition to World Sailing this year and we are currently creating a process to approve builders and to comply with Olympic competition requirements. Your voice counts! Enjoy the fun of Laser sailing again by joining TLC. Members who sign up now will receive two years of free membership. Join the future of Laser sailing!

EXCERPTS FROM FAQs
Source: https://www.thelaserclass.com/pages/faqs

Which are the hulls that will be allowed to sail at The Laser Class events? Here is the answer. All existing Lasers / ILCA dinghies are ok, except ILCA Dinghy 2020 models.

What about ILCA Dinghies?

Only Lasers built up to the end of 2019 - representing hull/sail number below 217250 are TLC One Design compliant. After that, to be compliant, they need to be a builder for TLC and an inspection done by our Technical Officer to ensure that it meets our One Design standards.  In fact, PSA has publicly indicated that they recently made changes to their Laser boat.  These changes make ILCA PSA boats non-compliant.

Who are The Laser Class approved builders?

At this time LaserPerformance, who has been building Lasers since the 1970s, is the only approved builder.  We are inviting PSA and PSJ to apply to become builders in their respective Laser territories.

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