Rule change vote

Thread starter #1
I am a regular Laser sailor although I mostly sail in a local club instead of large class events. But I support the class, always use only class legal equipment, and want to see the class stay strong and vibrant. I don't care much about whether it stays an Olympic class, and I understand the arguments on both sides of that question. But I don't follow the class politics or disputes much so I am wondering how I should vote on the proposed rule change. Please give me your best arguments for voting either way so I can feel a little more informed. Thanks.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
#2
The vote is about whether building and supplying Lasers and Laser equipment should or shouldn't be the monopoly of the Laser trademark owners, that is, the three current builders.

A winning "yes" vote means that we can license new builders around the world, and these could compete with one another without regional sales restrictions. About thirty candidates have reportedly expressed their willingness to start production. Global availability should be greatly improved, and even the prices might actually come down.

This would in itself be great for the grassroots, but it also satisfies World Sailing criteria for Olympic classes. The Olympic status in turn is good for the class as it ensures the inflow of young sailors, and that the number of participating countries stays high.

A winning "no" vote does not mean that some kind of "normal" state continues. The problems with the major builder and the supply of equipment would go on, and the Olympic status would be seriously threatened. None of the "no" vote supporters seem to have any solutions of their own.

The vote is not about a possible name change of the class. No one really wants it, and it's something that would be used only as a last resort if the negotiations with the trademark holders come to a total standstill.

The vote is not one of confidence for or against the current leadership of our class association, for whatever they might have done or left undone in the past. They're doing their best under unprecedented circumstances, and we should support them now if ever.

It is about giving ourselves more freedom to run the class successfully in the future, vs. continuing to give the trademark holders undue power.

_
 
Thread starter #3
The vote is about whether building and supplying Lasers and Laser equipment should or shouldn't be the monopoly of the Laser trademark owners, that is, the three current builders.

A winning "yes" vote means that we can license new builders around the world, and these could compete with one another without regional sales restrictions. About thirty candidates have reportedly expressed their willingness to start production. Global availability should be greatly improved, and even the prices might actually come down.

This would in itself be great for the grassroots, but it also satisfies World Sailing criteria for Olympic classes. The Olympic status in turn is good for the class as it ensures the inflow of young sailors, and that the number of participating countries stays high.

A winning "no" vote does not mean that some kind of "normal" state continues. The problems with the major builder and the supply of equipment would go on, and the Olympic status would be seriously threatened. None of the "no" vote supporters seem to have any solutions of their own.

The vote is not about a possible name change of the class. No one really wants it, and it's something that would be used only as a last resort if the negotiations with the trademark holders come to a total standstill.

The vote is not one of confidence for or against the current leadership of our class association, for whatever they might have done or left undone in the past. They're doing their best under unprecedented circumstances, and we should support them now if ever.

It is about giving ourselves more freedom to run the class successfully in the future, vs. continuing to give the trademark holders undue power.

_
Thank you for that cogent and straightforward summary. Unless someone pipes in with contrary information I will be voting YES in the next day or so.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#4
I am also a 'regular' Laser (Master) sailor. Clearly not on any Olympic path, but I do believe that it is important to keep the Laser in the Olympics because it will stimulate Laser sailing all around the world. Many countries do not have well-funded sailing programs, and the Laser is still one of the most affordable boats around. And there are plenty of old(er) boats around that are perfectly fine to get experience for those that cannot afford a new boat of any kind.
And yes, I find LaLi's summary of a complex situation convincing.


PS: Just a few additional builders who can turn out a quality product would be great.
 
#5
Alternatively we may end up with many small builders who cannot take advantage of economies of scale so prices rise. The construction manual has wide tolerances so some builders will use this to produce boats with optimised tolerances and will charge a premium. They may even allow you to order a boat which is within tolerance but to your specification for a premium price. Then there are the additional class overheads inspecting many more builders. The second choice boat was the Aero and this has a sole builder and as we have three it is hard to justify the change to comply with FRAND. At the moment a Laser is 25% less than an Aero in the UK we will have to see if this differential rises or falls if the change is approved.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
#6
The construction manual has wide tolerances
How do you know this? The nearly-mythical Laser Construction Manual is exactly that because it's not a public document; I'm not sure if even all of the ILCA leadership has access to it.

The second choice boat was the Aero and this has a sole builder and as we have three it is hard to justify the change to comply with FRAND.
FRAND isn't directly about the number of builders, but about no one having a legal monopoly. Someone may still have a practical monopoly because their product is much more popular than others' (Devoti Finn), and/or the total volume is small (Nacra). The number of RS Aeros produced so far may not be large enough to support a multitude of builders, but were this to change due to gaining Olympic status, RS Sailing would have to let others into the market. WS wouldn't sign any other kind of contract with them.

That LP sells more than 85 % of all new Lasers isn't because they're more popular (which would be comparable with Mackay in the 470), but that they hold exclusive rights in an even larger percentage of sailing nations. The "yes" vote can't end those rights, but it will end the exclusiveness. It's a vote for FRAND.

Just a few additional builders who can turn out a quality product would be great.
Yes. Realistically, and if all goes well, we should have 5 or 6 active builders a few years from now.

_
 
#7
As you say the construction manual is not available to us so we have to draw conclusions from other evidence such as:

The dispute between LPE and LPA regarding construction techniques and the reported ILCA ruling that both are legal.
The World Sailing technical committee praising the new classes for accurate manufacturing techniques and omitting to mention this with the Laser.
The bulk of the construction manual being written 50 years ago with a view to low cost mass production rather than high tolerance design.
Reports on this forum of some sailors being able to choose or order hulls with specific characteristics such as mast rake or heavy hull and light deck.
ILCA specifically mentioning the problems of Boutique Builders.

We have to remember only a very small difference in speed can have a major impact on the race course, if you can surf a little longer and gain an inside overlap at a mark the gain in places is worth far more than the difference in boat speed.

As a current owner of two newish boats all I can say is my new Ice Blue definitely has more of an edge than the Vela Grey and more than I have experienced before in any of my many previous new boats, the first being a 160000 craft.

As for the voting, as far as I can ascertain, there is no validation of votes to ensure they are actually submitted by the member. The only checks are to see if the data submitted is correct. If this is true the vote would be open to abuse. If you follow the UK Laser Web Site you would not know a vote is taking place!
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#8
I agree with some of the above post. But will point out the following.

Lasers have NEVER been totally identical around the world. Some of this, I think, is in the mind of the sailors, but some of this is for real.
For instance, Ben Ainsley writes in his Laser Campaign Manual that one should carefully measure the rake prior to buying. But this is something an ordinary buyer can't do. Certainly not in the USA where there are no Lasers at dealerships. And dealers wouldn't generally allow that. I imagine though that the British Team does pick its boats very carefully.
An LP video shows that they weigh hulls and decks separately and put them together for uniform weight. I see nothing wrong with that.


And then there is the issue of uniformity (for instance, LP vs PSA boats). For a while, PSA boats were thought to be superior and recent revelations have shown that a slightly different construction method was used without ILCA approval that made the boat stiffer in the bow area (as I recall). This was wrong, obviously. All I can say is that ILCA is aware of such issues and hopefully will ensure that all manufacturers (new and old) will market boats manufactured according to the Laser Construction Manual. The latter, as described by Steve Clark (of Vanguard) in posts on Sailing Anarchy is VERY strict/detailed. I note that LP hasn't allowed inspection of its UK facility for some time; resulting in it being dropped as a manufacturer by ILCA. As I wrote, I do hope that ILCA will be very strict with their inspections from now on.

The voting process has been attacked by many European sailors, but ILCA has stated that the process is carefully scrutinized. The process does include validation of the membership issue.
 

Rob B

Well-Known Member
#9
As you say the construction manual is not available to us so we have to draw conclusions from other evidence such as:

The dispute between LPE and LPA regarding construction techniques and the reported ILCA ruling that both are legal.
The World Sailing technical committee praising the new classes for accurate manufacturing techniques and omitting to mention this with the Laser.
The bulk of the construction manual being written 50 years ago with a view to low cost mass production rather than high tolerance design.
Reports on this forum of some sailors being able to choose or order hulls with specific characteristics such as mast rake or heavy hull and light deck.
ILCA specifically mentioning the problems of Boutique Builders.

We have to remember only a very small difference in speed can have a major impact on the race course, if you can surf a little longer and gain an inside overlap at a mark the gain in places is worth far more than the difference in boat speed.

As a current owner of two newish boats all I can say is my new Ice Blue definitely has more of an edge than the Vela Grey and more than I have experienced before in any of my many previous new boats, the first being a 160000 craft.

As for the voting, as far as I can ascertain, there is no validation of votes to ensure they are actually submitted by the member. The only checks are to see if the data submitted is correct. If this is true the vote would be open to abuse. If you follow the UK Laser Web Site you would not know a vote is taking place!
I don't know about that "edge" on the ice blue boats. I sail a 2001 Vanguard and was able to trade tacks with an ice blue hull being skippered by a very good young sailor who has been part of the FYC training program for years and is also on the USA multi hull development team. I actually beat him handily in a couple of races.
 

Rob B

Well-Known Member
#10
Another point regarding tolerances. Since 2003 I've owned 3 different Vanguard hulls, 2 from 1998 and my current 2001 model. The mast rake has varied from 49" to 50". The 49" sailed upwind like a bandit, but was slower DW. The 50", (is a much better condition hull) does just fine UW and is fantastic DW.
 

torrid

Just sailing
#11
Another point regarding tolerances. Since 2003 I've owned 3 different Vanguard hulls, 2 from 1998 and my current 2001 model. The mast rake has varied from 49" to 50". The 49" sailed upwind like a bandit, but was slower DW. The 50", (is a much better condition hull) does just fine UW and is fantastic DW.
You're going to have variations in hulls, spar stiffness, and sail cut. There is no way you are going to be able to micro-manage all of that to get the perfect boat.
 

Rob B

Well-Known Member
#12
You're going to have variations in hulls, spar stiffness, and sail cut. There is no way you are going to be able to micro-manage all of that to get the perfect boat.
True- in all manufacturing there are tolerances that are deemed "acceptable" as long as they fit within a range.
 
#15
The voting process has been attacked by many European sailors, but ILCA has stated that the process is carefully scrutinized. The process does include validation of the membership issue.
My understanding and experience is the data is validated by the associations by making sure the data entered corresponds to that of a current member. There is no authentication to make sure the member actually submitted the vote and therefore the vote is open to abuse because the information entered is widely available to others. The vote should have included an email confirmation request to the address entered to confirm the vote. This would have been simple to arrange and without is the result has to be questionable if it is a close ballot.

Wavedancers post is also contradictory in that it states the manual is very strict but acknowleges that hulls and decks of different weights are used to produce a uniform weight. So it is possible for a manufacturer to take more time and cost to put the materials where it matters most.

The fact that the ILCA inspections did not reveal the differences in the manufacturers construction techniques despite constant references on this forum about the superiority of LPA boat makes you wonder how thorough they are, and although there may have been contractural issues between ILCA and LPE which delayed inspection, it seems World Sailing may have inspected the facility to provide the detail information in their report.

I found this article a helpful synopsis https://optimist-openbic-sailing.blogspot.com/2019/07/laser-olympics-more-and-more-drama-with.html?fbclid=IwAR0uVb4MhuEASgtC5KiLOQaWLfRg5KTGR9snMavxnnB_JZt8tazrDPeuPzc
 

Rob B

Well-Known Member
#16
My understanding and experience is the data is validated by the associations by making sure the data entered corresponds to that of a current member. There is no authentication to make sure the member actually submitted the vote and therefore the vote is open to abuse because the information entered is widely available to others. The vote should have included an email confirmation request to the address entered to confirm the vote. This would have been simple to arrange and without is the result has to be questionable if it is a close ballot.

Wavedancers post is also contradictory in that it states the manual is very strict but acknowleges that hulls and decks of different weights are used to produce a uniform weight. So it is possible for a manufacturer to take more time and cost to put the materials where it matters most.

The fact that the ILCA inspections did not reveal the differences in the manufacturers construction techniques despite constant references on this forum about the superiority of LPA boat makes you wonder how thorough they are, and although there may have been contractural issues between ILCA and LPE which delayed inspection, it seems World Sailing may have inspected the facility to provide the detail information in their report.

I found this article a helpful synopsis https://optimist-openbic-sailing.blogspot.com/2019/07/laser-olympics-more-and-more-drama-with.html?fbclid=IwAR0uVb4MhuEASgtC5KiLOQaWLfRg5KTGR9snMavxnnB_JZt8tazrDPeuPzc
That's not really a "helpful" synopsis. It's more of an opinion piece written to support a "No" vote. Pretty sure ILCA holds the Plaques and does the facility inspections. WS is not designated to hold inspections in the place of ILCA.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
#17
Andy, are you saying we shouldn't vote because the system is imperfect? Or should we dismiss the result beforehand?

Combining decks and bottoms of different weights for less variation in total weight is a good thing. Makes "very strict" even stricter. No contradiction there.

Rob, I haven't found Jean-Pierre's blog very helpful either. He observes a lot but isn't very good at processing the data, and lets the drama take over, much like with the "no" supporters in general.

_
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#18
By now I have read most of JP Kiekens blogs and have come to the conclusion that he loves making up alternate scenarios; while not totally unbelievable, they seem far out. Or perhaps I should say 'a stretch'.
Maybe I am just naïve, but I do trust ILCA (Tracy, Eric, et al.) for trying (!) to do the right thing for the Class as a whole.


PS: As an aside, I concede that the ILCA preferred plan may not get the (2/3) votes to pass.
 
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#19
It seems from the links below there are others concerned about the voting process and the intentions of ILCA. The links argue the NO position quite clearly and reasonably. The previous link only presents facts for the reader to draw their own conclusions. It is reported in the links that Tracy has received a petition of over 600 signatures, which includes well known names in the sailing community, asking him to stand down.

http://saily.it/it/article/ilca-enough-enough-let%E2%80%99s-save-laser/
fake lasers?

Wavedancer is right, it is about trust, and ILCA should have put in place a voting system in which we could trust, and, trusted us with the plans for the class instead of making decisions behind closed doors.

Lali believes as long as the boats are the same weight it does not matter where the weight is and this surprises me!

Perhaps the way forward is for European Club sailors to buy class compliant Lasers available on a fleet deal purchase for about £4k and let ILCA continue on with its Olympic dream and exotic materials. Top sailors will soon realise it is like putting a bigger engine in an old car, it is a compromise and gradually move to other classes and we have seen some move on already.

I wonder is any truth in the claim in one of the links that PSA are hedging there bets by having already signed an agreement to produce the Aero.
 
#20
ILCA used SurveyMonkey as its voting platform in 2017 for the electronic compass, hiking strap cleat etc vote, and everyone trusted it then? Those articles are using the voting platform as decoy to detract from the 'yes' argument.

There's no truth in the claim about PSA. They had those rights about five years ago but then had a falling out with RS, and the boats are now distributed by a company in Melbourne (around 1000km from the PSA factory).
 
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