2011 Rule Changes - Fundamental Rule

I think the consensus was: "there should be free beer at all Laser regattas!"

I can try to put together a summary this evening, though maybe some of the TLF regulars who were there could? I know there were several in the room at the time (and even a few who asked questions!)


Just sailing
I've been holding my vote. I was hoping either the class or the builders would have something relevant to say on the issue.

**crickets chirping**

Actually, I was hoping the rights holders/builders would realize they are screwing the class, their customers, and figure a way to settle this without a rule change.

**more crickets chirping**
I don't know where I saw that, and I don't have time right now to do a thorough search. Anyone else have this info in their brain? If I am wrong, I'll address that.

I'm directing my anger at the heads of the class because it seems to me, from information that people have contributed in this thread, that they've short-sightedly chosen the wrong builder, in order to keep up the supply of boats. Global contracted with Kirby; this contract was acknowledged for two years by PSE or LP or whatever they call themselves. By accounts, Global makes better boats. Why would you choose, or ask us to choose, illegal, badly built boats?
Well if they are building better boats then EVERYWHERE else in the world and people in Europe are prepared to pay a premium for Australian boats what does that tell you? Ringing any bells yet?!
Global Sailing doesn't build boats, PS Australia does. Popular rumor in North America is that the Australian boats are "better", though I would like to see some solid evidence from regatta results that can prove that.

The ILCA Technical Officer is charged with periodically inspecting each factory to insure construction of Lasers according to the Laser Construction Manual. Its an amazingly thorough inspection and there is a vast collection of data on boats built at each factory. I don't believe there is any evidence from these inspections that would support the idea that boats from one factory are clearly superior to those from any other.
Global Sailing = PS Australia, pretty simple concept. Take your boat from Australia to Europe, bet you don't come back with it!
The singular most annoying part of the rule change is not that which has been removed but that which remains.

Why does the class care whether a builder has the right to use the word Laser or the starburst?? Would it be that hard for us to change this??

I don't give a hoot what some builder calls the toys we use to play our game. I give a hoot whether all the toys are as exactly alike as reasonable building practices can manufacture for us.

It seems to me, in fact, that the ILCA is asking me to vote for a rule that goes EXACTLY OPPOSITE that which would be good for the sailors.

Case in point>

If I decided to make molds and build toys that are exactly like the thing Kirby designed, I might be able to supply my local fleet with boats so we could play our game with toys sold through a local dealer at 1/3 to 1/2 the purchase price of those boats supplied by the monopoly builders who currently supply our toys.

Now I fully understand that many of you would be annoyed by a newfound need to measure boats at regattas to see if they are like the monopoly builders boats...

But. How many thousands of dollars are you willing to spend??

Also note...Some have already told us the popularity of knock off parts is already requiring a lot of checking and measurement to make cetain teh parts came from those who own copyrights to the starburst logo and name.

Builders and consumers of knock off parts have become sneaky.

If we alowed local builders to be up front and in the open, we could also expect they would deliver the exact same parts they promised or face our community's wrath. I know I damn sure wouldbn't build any toys for our game that were not up to snuff. I have a reputation to uphold...as would most anyone in the business. The community is small and the pissed off sailor customer gossip is not someone with whom I care to contend.

How long are you willing to wait for backordered parts from the monopoly builder and supplier of all parts who is currently supplying the North American market?? How is theh supply of official builder parts at your favorite supplier?? How has it been for the last three years??
Do you suppose the monopoly suppliers will love us more and do a better job if we gather and say our marriage vows a second time??

If the Builders want to throw open the discussion about rules related to who can supply toys for the ILCA game, Let's go along with them and have a good long look at ALL our options.

My bet is we could find ourselves being served by builders who really want our buisness and who would simply love to make a decent living manufacturing toys for us to use.

May the builder with the most reliably "alike" boats and sails, the best price, and the best aftermarket customer service win that contest!!!

or we can actually legislate a fresh rule that says, "Those who own the copyright on the word laser and the starburst can have their way with us."

I have noy yet cast a ballot as, "ask again when you have something better to offer" was not an option..

but there is hope, the ballot has already been reworded in the middle of the election. Who is to stop our beloved leaders from rewording the ballot a second or third time...or even once more after all the votes have been cast??
Do you believe in the tooth fairy? Santa? Easter Bunny? Seriously, I cannot believe how naive you can be. That the world is all fluffy and we just want to go sailing in all the same boat in a 10 -15kt sea breeze with bikini girls handing us drinks at the top mark.

Like it or not, the building of sailing boats is a business at times a very profitable one, either for the designer or builder or both. The Class Association was set up to give the owners of the boats a voice and some control over their investment. With me?

Right, now the designer allowed a number of privately owned builders to build his boat under strict design rules to his specification. This ensured value to everyones boat and equality when racing, locally, district or internationally. The Association oversaw the construction of the boats. Now for the uninformed, the specification is not just a measurement of a hull but the entire manufacturing process. Type of materials used to construct the boat, the way those materials are laid out the way, the boats are joined etc. Not as simple as just measuring a hull, nor something you can visually check at a regatta.

Now if a one builder owned the licence to decide who gets to build the boats, what do you think would happen? Do you think Apple would let HP build their computers and be a competitor? Take a slice of their potential profit? What about Dodge...? I think not.

Now lets go with a hypothetical, the licence holder (Global Sailing) decides that the only builder allowed to build their boats is PSA (as expected), creating a total monopoly in the World. A smart move, if thats what they are thinking, thousands of boats a year with them making 100% of the profit, not the small margin Kirby was making. But with no competition to speak of or allowed, they could set the price and you would HAVE to pay, an even smarter move would be to change the design or materials slightly, how about adding some carbon or kevlar into the hull, resulting in a lighter and stiffer boat? Making every competitive sailor buy a new boat at the price they set, whilst at the same time making your current boat obsolete.

Like it or not, this is a business and businesses are around to make money, not to make your life more enjoyable or make you feel or warm and fuzzy. the ILCA may not be perfect, but they have one goal and thats to make the class stronger and represent the interests of its members, you.


Super Opinionated and Always Correct
Former No0rth American Class President Joe Van Rosem has been talking with Bruce Kirby and Joe seems pretty convinced the class should hold back...way back on doing anything right now.

Joe gave me the impression he heard from Mr Wellmann and did not necessarily agree with that which mr Wellman expressed.


1. Bruce Kirby is convinced his design rights have NOT expired
2. Bruce Kirby MAY be in the process of repurchasing his design rights from those to whom he sold the control.
3. if Joe is correct, teh ilCA may end up owning the design rights.

If the above is true in any way shape or form, passing the new rule would be counter to our best long term interests.


Joe has spoken with many class members from around the world and his impression is, "Everybody wants more information before voting."

I think:

The entire "change the rules right now" push is too much too fast. it usually takes eyars and years to accomplish a rule change but suddently THIS ONE RULE neds to be immediately changed and we have little information with which to make judgements about our votes.

Also, I think when the ILCA changed teh ballot mid election they voided the entire process ipso facto.

I don't like the way this is going.

I think the vote should be caled off until:

a. A vigorous PRE el;ection discussion can be accomplished.
b. a ballot can be written and announced before the voting begins and kept EXACTLY the same until the voting is complete.
c. the vote can be conducted WITHOUT ANY politicing within the voting process. The current voting system includes being presented with teh ILCA case for approval on teh same set of links as teh ballot...that would NEVER be tolerated in any free election and is utter crap!!!

Of course I have brought up most of this before...Integrity guys...I am challenging the integrity of this election.

Wait...NO I am not.

This election has none to be challenged.

There are simply too many things being done, even if by well meaning honest people, the entirely wrong way.


Super Opinionated and Always Correct
Do you believe in the tooth fairy? That was Mom.
Santa? Yes Virginia.
Easter Bunny? Well Duh!! Who do you think Hosts the Easter Laser Regatta??
Seriously, I cannot believe how naive you can be. You have no basis for belief and probably insufficient skills to pass judegment even if I made the necessary information available to you. However, you can rest assured, my niavete extends most thoroughly to trying to understand those who hand us drinks at the weather mark.
That the world is all fluffy and we just want to go sailing in all the same boat in a 10 -15kt sea breeze with bikini girls handing us drinks at the top mark. That's how it works in the regattas I attend, with hot dudes serving drinks to the ladies and gay fellows.

Have you been missing out?
Mostly, I always wonder how with all that splashing they manage to keep the chips so crunchy.

Seems somebody with a vested interest in PSA has joined the discussion.


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
I'm agreeing with Joe on this one.

I waited until a few days ago before voting and then cast a vote on the basis that the requested further information was not forthcoming and appeared would be unlikely to appear between now and the time poll closed. If they wanted to convince me to vote for the change, they failed.
I'm agreeing with Joe on this one.

I waited until a few days ago before voting and then cast a vote on the basis that the requested further information was not forthcoming and appeared would be unlikely to appear between now and the time poll closed. If they wanted to convince me to vote for the change, they failed.
Completely agree - no new info to shed any more light..
So it's been almost six months and we have heard nothing about this from LaserPerformance and very little, apart from their misleading initial statement, from the leadership of ILCA. I am very disappointed that Heini and Jeff have not engaged in the discussion here and answered all the questions that have been asked. Bruce Kirby and PSA have made their positions clear, and for that I am grateful. And I do appreciate the efforts that Tracy Usher has made to make the case for the rule change, but his contributions still leave so many questions unanswered. It sounds as if I am by no means the only one who is not prepared to support this rule change unless and until the people proposing it provide us with more information as to why they think it is necessary.

I'm going to wait a few more days, but unless I hear some better arguments for the rule change I will vote against it. I encourage others to do the same, if only to send a message to ILCA leadership that they need to do a much better job at communicating with their members if they want us to make such a major change to the rules of our game as this.
Apologies for the delay in getting this sorted out, in the midst of a week long series of meetings at work and had to put together a presentation for this morning.

During the recently completed Master Worlds in San Francisco, Heini Wellmann took the opportunity to hold a meeting to discuss class issues with those sailors interested in listening (I understand he has been regularly doing this at events he has been attending). A good fraction of that discussion centered around the proposed change to the Fundamental Rule. As this was a public meeting I assume that what was said can be summarized here, and I'll try to do to the best of my memory (I was plenty tired after racing that day!). This is from memory, its nearly three weeks old, I just sailed my last Masters' regatta in the Standard Masters (meaning I'm getting older and my memory isn't as good as it used to be), etc., etc. Anyway, the meeting was mostly a question and answer session, so here goes:

1) "Can the Laser Class be sued?" Heini's direct answer was no. The longer answer is as has been discussed here, mainly that ILCA is not party to the contracts between the design rights holder and the builders, has no knowledge of what is contained in those contracts and is not bound by them. ILCA, with its membership, has the fundamental right to change its Class Rules subject to the constraints of its constitution and approval by ISAF.

2) "What does ISAF think?"
a) Heini said that he had made a presentation he made to the ISAF Council at the last ISAF meeting. It sounds as if they had concerns over the proposed rule change similar to discussions here but those concerns were assuaged by Heini's presentation. Apparently Heini also made the conclusions of ILCA's attorney known to the ISAF attorney who concurred with them entirely (in fact even pointing out a strengthening of ILCA's position, the details of which are a bit murky in my memory so I don't want to mis-state them, perhaps another TLF'er who was also in attendance can remember?).
b) Apparently it seems that ISAF must approve of the sale of the design rights to a new owner and it seems that they were not asked and, according to Heini, have not given this approval. Again, details are not clear enough in my memory to feel confident in recounting the exact wording here, but possibly this may be the source of what Fred alluded to in his post, regarding Bruce Kirby possibly being in discussions to regain his rights?

3) "What might happen?" It seems that is not a question of "might" anymore, the statement was that Global Sailing has terminated the contract with LaserPerformance Europe. By our current class rules, very soon LPE will run out of plaques (which are what determine whether a boat satisfies the class rules) and will not be able to produce new Lasers for Europe, Africa, South America and most of Asia. As far as I know, LP in North America still has a contract.

4) "What if the situation changes? (e.g. Bruce Kirby regains his rights)" The World Council could decide to not go forward with the results of the vote, presumably meaning the WC could decide to not adopt the rule.

Those are the main points that I remember (long day of sailing, I was very tired!). Hopefully someone else in attendance can add any missing details.
As good as it is that Heini Wellman is at events doing Q&A, is there any reason he cannot put this information in front of all of the members, email/ilca webpage etc.

Only a small percentage of laser sailors will hear him, and another very small percentage will see this forum discussions. If he has information that is pertinent to how members choose to vote it should be made available to all members somehow.
Joe Van Rossem just forwarded email from Bruce Kirby. It seems that Bruce is very close to regaining his rights maybe any day now. If he does, what does ILCA do about the proposed rule change and how does it dismiss votes already cast? I've asked the ILCA office this question. Let's hope there is a timely response that basically says if Kirby takes back his rights, there is no need for the rule change and all voting on the issue is null and void.


Upside down?
Staff member
Interesting, but still confused. May I suppose that the contract that Kirby executed with Global Sailing had a provision for a 'buy back' if certain conditions were not met?

PS: A few days ago I voted against the proposed rule change. Mostly as a protest against the inept ILCA leadership (Wellman, Martin).


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
I somehow suspect the vote will stand, it's in the interest of PSE who seem to have the ILCA in their pocket. You guys have indicated that PSE are unable to maintain supply of equipment which to me means indicates they have a cash flow problem. Restoring the original arrangement with Kirby does not mean that PSE will start paying the building fees if they are in financial difficulty and unable to afford to pay. Secondly, once the voting mechanism is set in motion, can it actually be stopped?

What's is interesting is the new Kirby article says there was a contract involved, not a licencing arrangement, not a patent. Contracts can and do get sold and they remain in force.
I received the following circular today with the request to also post to this forum:

Clarification on the vote of the fundamental rule change

Dear Laser friends,

Next Friday September 23 is the deadline for the vote on the fundamental rule change. The importance of this rule change triggered a lot of discussions between the Laser sailors and on the different web forums. These discussions were very healthy and contributed to a better understanding of all the different issues involved. Personally, I kept a certain restraint in order to allow an as free discussion as possible. For those who want to refresh their memories on the reasons of the rule change can go to http://www.laserinternational.org/rules2011 .

During the last few weeks, however, a certain number of issues were brought up, which need clarifications:

  1. The whole issue started when ILCA was advised by Global Sailing, who purports to be representing Kirby’s interests, that as per July 11 2010 they had terminated the license agreement with Laser Performance Europe. ILCA is not a party to these agreements and does not even know their exact content. Therefore to pretend that the purpose of the rule change was to terminate the royalty payments to Global Sailing is not correct. The only reason of the rule change is to assure the supply of a sufficient quantity of new Laser boats compliant with the ILCA Class Rules available in Europe and other countries in 2011 and beyond to satisfy the demand of its current and future ILCA members.
  2. We understand that currently negotiations might be under way between Bruce Kirby and Global Sailing for Bruce to get his rights back. Under the current ILCA Class Rules a valid builder agreement is required between the “design rights holder” and the licensed Laser builder. Who the owner is of the design rights is unimportant in this context. Since the licence agreement with Laser Performance Europe has been terminated, only a new (or the renewal of the old) licence agreement between the “design rights holder” and Laser Performance Europe would solve the issue and potentially make the rule change unnecessary. We have informed all parties involved (Global Sailing, Bruce Kirby and Laser Performance Europe) of that and have asked them to inform us if they had come to a new agreement. This has not been the case up until today.
  3. ILCA has always preferred a peaceful solution. If all three parties are close to agree on a solution, we will not stay in their way and give them reasonable time to conclude their negotiations on a new licence agreement with Laser Performance Europe.
If you want to preserve the Laser Class in its current set-up you need to vote YES. If you vote NO the Class in its current set-up will soon cease to exist.

Please consider and with best regards.

Heini Wellmann
President International Laser Class Association (ILCA)


Super Opinionated and Always Correct
Thanks for posting the ILCA President's message. Unfortunatly I do not comprehend why it is important to demand the builders have ownership of the copyrights for the word Laser but it is not important they have a contract with the designer allowing them to build the boat he designed.

If we are voting to abandon the principles of paying for intellectual rights...and, with respect to the boat's designer himself, that is the real proposal on the table...

I really cannot see why we give a rats patootie whether builders have the rights to use the word laser or have a deal with the designer. If we are going to start allowing knock offs of the Kirby design to sail in our races, we only need to be certain the toys remain equal. The toys can be called by any names we choose.

If money is the issue, and we know it is, let's ask Nike how much they will PAY US to change the name and put their logo on the sails.

and...the class can decide who gets to be builders..

and the CLASS can collect the royalties.

The ILCA wishes to endorse a vote whereby we will free ourselves and our builders from being forced to deal with our designer and no longer allow him to stand between builders and the racing sailors...


the ILCA will continue enforce the ownership of the laser logo as the sole qualification for operating as a monopoly supplier of our toys..

I do not understand why the ILCA, a supposed member's organization, is siding with builders and against the class members and the designer.

I have no idea why any laser sailor would vote for the current ILCA proposal.

The proposal is either half assed immoral or half assed free the slaves.

neither way is it something worth voting for.