I am pretty sure the US boats are actually built in the UK and shipped over these days. It could be as others have said that it has been 'cooked' post production in a container. I have never seen a boat deform like that ever. I have seen the usual marks under the mast foot but nothing like that...
The Melges is likely to only be available in the US (like the Farr dinghies only seem prevalent in Aus/NZ).
This is probably partially in response to the RS Aero which will be imported by West Coast sailing (who have an extensive network of outlets in the US/Canada I believe).
Do remember that sail numbers/plaques are issued in batches so it may simply be that they have started their next batch and there are still a load to be built from a different batch with another builder.
I am told companies house tells a different story. If I had the time and inclination I would look it up myself. As I said this came from a reliable source, does not mean it is accurate though.
It is marketing bull worthy of another major UK dinghy company though.
They are trying to by saying 'we will sell the new sail anyway with or without your approval'.
There will be some who will buy it but I do know if they turn up at my local club they will be told politely that they are not allowed to race as part of the Laser fleet with it (they can of course...
That would be allowed. I am pretty sure you can put any cleat that fits on the mounting centres without modification (tapping and re-drilling).
The cleat is an expendable part to a certain extent although my Harken vang had 5 years or so or regular hard use and the cleat was perfectly fine.
The top blocks are free anyway. Looks like they have changed to use the latest Harken offering rather than the metal blocks. I have these new style blocks on my current boat, they are the business and look great as well as function perfectly.
The only part they cannot change is the bottom assembly.
The other thing you could consider is using a personal handicap for each sailor. Start off using the same number for everyone then whoever wins then get 10% knocked off (2nd 5%. 3rd 3%). Whoever is last gets 10% added on, scond last 5%, 3rd last 3%.
Run this for a while as a separate series so...