The Laser Std - in future not at the Olympic Family??

Thread starter #1
Hi all,
I can't believe it.

But in a message of today at the sports-news section of the "Financial Times Germany" I read in an interview with the chairman of the Germann Sailing Federation, Rolf Baehr, that there is a discussion to reduce the number of sailing disciplines at the Olympic games in future.
Baehr says: Either the Laser Standard (open class single-handed men) or the Finn Dinghy (single-handed men) will be "striked of the roll" of the Olympic disciplines, but he supports, that the women singlehanded sailing discipline Laser Radial is not involved in that discussion inside of the IOC.

Here is the full report, but only in German Language (Sorry, I can't find a source of that in English):

What can we do?

Ignore such infiormations? Continue the business as usual?

A big poll here at TLF?

Take the pencil and write long letters to Jaques Rogge (chairman of the IOC), support the work of our class heads, spend money to the heads of the IOC (the last is a joke) etc.?

What is the information the ILCA wants to give us?

As mentioned above, the first question in my mind is:
Would it be such a bad thing if the Laser was not the Olympic class ? The class was strong prior to it being selected, I would guess it would continue to be strong after. Plenty of other classes have proven that it not nec to be an Olympic class to have a strong class with great sailing.

Having said that, thinking logically, it would be pretty hard to argue for kicking the Laser out and keeping the Finn in (and especially if you kept the Radial). The direction the IOC seems to want to go is to be as inclusive as possible for all countries. It costs $5000 US to buy a Laser, $15000 for a Finn. Much less money for a country to spend to build a fleet of Lasers and much less money for the host country to spend to supply boats.

From a marketing standpoint, the Laser class is in a different league from the Finn class. If the builders decide that being in the Olympics is in their best interest ($), they can easily pump money in to outspend the Finn class. The Finn class would have to rely on wealthy benefactors to give them the money needed to put up a marketing/public relations fight ala the Star class (The benfactors exist, but it remains to be seen if they will put their money where their mouths are)

The wild card in all this is Rogge. He has long ties to the Finn.
I think the Laser class is too strong to let itself be kicked out. The Laser is the closest you can get to one design, and its one-design rules are well-governed.
The Soling class got kicked out. Look at their policies and you see a mess and you will understand what a class should not do. Those boats are so complicated to trim that you will need a Phd in engineering. Simplicity (Star) won over complexity. By the way, you can pick up a Soling now for nearly nothing.
Why not kick out those Tornados?


Just sailing
The women's classes have always been linked to one of the men's classes. Having a class of boat similar to what the men are sailing seems to be a good base for building up the women's classes. This is what has kept the 470 as an Olympic class for so many years, and the Europe is sort of a scaled down Finn (go read Sailing Anarchy to see what the Finn sailors really think of the Europe sailors).

If they were to cut the men's Laser event, that would probably be seen as a bit of a blow for the women's Radial event. The IOC may want to limit the overall size of the sailing events, but they certainly won't do anything which could negatively impact participation in the women's events. I don't see them going back to the Europe as a women's class. If anything is going, it's the Finn.

As for my personal feelings, I could care less if the Laser was an Olympic class.
Thread starter #7
To be at the Olympic family is very important, if we view to the work for the official sailing federations for the young sailors. The Laser is a perfect dinghy for that work. In my opinion we can see this by the "vita" of Ben Ainslie and others.
But just to see the nameless numbers of young sailors that grow up in the Optimist Dinghy, changing aft that to the Laser Radial, change then to the Laser standard and later on, if the weight suits, changing to Finn Dinghy or other sailing classes is a reasonable way to continue. The IOC would antagonize all that work (honorary or payed) for the sailing youth. "The IOC is interested only in getting money into their own wallet and having a lot of control about everything" is a saying here where I live. Deciding to reduce the sailing-disciplines to prosper sports that rise up the income of the officers of the IOC by getting better conditions by TV promotion movies would be the "q.e.d" (lat.: quot erat demonstrandum) under that saying above.

I am sure, Rolf Baehr has his reasons to tell this informations about the discussions at the IOC now.
Not many clubs can sponsor the Finn Class, because only of the cost that boat. The Laser is "cheap", related to the Finn. The costs for a Laser won't go down, if the Laser is not at the Olympic Family, I am absolutely sure in that point of view.

Behind the curtains, now, it's up really to "the heavy hand" of the ILCA (and their partners in the economy, like Vanguard, PSE, Harken, RWO, Holt-Allen etc. etc.) to make clear to the officials at the IOC, how important it is, to have the Laser standard (but better both: Laser and Finn Dinghy) at that event.

Sailing events at the Games can't be hold like the Superbowl that is hold in a few days, but to reduce the sailing disciplines from 11 to 10 is not a way to make the Games better. Does the IOC reduce the Athletic disciplines at the Olympic stadium?? Think: There are many 100.000s of sailors out there on this globe and they want to see sailing at the Games like it was seen at the Athens! Already to see the Europe Dinghy leaving in future the Games was so sad (and I say that as a Laserite) and disapointing for me, I would like to "strike off the roll" the Games if the IOC reduces the sailing disciplines in future.

My enthusiasm did grow much to see the Laser on TV at the Athens 2004, but if the Laser (and/or: the Finn) leaves the Olympic Family, my interest goes away from watching the sailing disciplines at that event. I am sure others think in the same way.

We should remember the words of Shevy in 2004 and continue, strong and effective, the optimizing of our Laserclass in all points of view.

Let's stay together as sailors, with our friends, that perhaps sail the Finn Dinghy (as in my case) or Soling or Tornado etc. Don't let the payed sports-officials initiate trouble between us sailors, but initiate trouble between us sailors and the rest of the not sailing world if there is a need to.


"We should remember the words of Shevy in 2004."

I really can' remember when Shevy went missing, but I (we) would really like to know what has become of him.

Have you had any contact with him? Any clue at all as to how one might reach him?

Thanks very much.


I really can' remember when Shevy went missing, but I (we) would really like to know what has become of him.

Have you had any contact with him? Any clue at all as to how one might reach him?

Shevy said goodbye to the Laser forum right around the time that I arrived in the autumn of 2004. It was a coincidence, really it was! He left because he was getting married, and he moved to Turkey with his bride. TLF wished him well, and we still do. If you do a search, you can find his goodbye letter. He pledged then to keep the DrLaser stuff available, but evidently he changed his mind. At one point, he came back and left a post promising to get DrLaser back online quickly. That was a year ago. He's got a different life and things change.


Just sailing
You have to consider that in the United States, they don't even show the sailing events on TV. OK, they did run a half-hour summary on one of the cable channels at 2:30 in the morning. Those highlight reels didn't show anything but the mark roundings and the finish, so there wasn't much point to watching. You couldn't observe boat handling or strategy as the sailors rounded the course.
You have to consider that in the United States, they don't even show the sailing events on TV. OK, they did run a half-hour summary on one of the cable channels at 2:30 in the morning. Those highlight reels didn't show anything but the mark roundings and the finish, so there wasn't much point to watching. You couldn't observe boat handling or strategy as the sailors rounded the course.
Well, I have seen some really great coverage in the US. They showed starts (with lines on the screen) aerial shots of mark roundings, finishes and Ben Ainslie's technique in sailing the Finn. It was indeed late in the evening, around midnight, but certainly some great coverage, that also made it interesting for those who do not sail themselves.
If the spectatorship is a real issue, they should change the course to a small lake, or better two small connected lakes - where the connection is very narrow. The spectators can cheer for the sailors when they cross from one lake to the other. It is clear who is in the lead and some of the boats might crash there. WHOA!
Seriously though, I think Looserlu is absolutely right in saying that the ILCA and partners should step up the plate right now. We all know how great the laser is and we will never sail in the olympics, but does a kid who comes out of an optimist know that? If there are a lot of lasersailors at her club, yes. If not, there might be plenty of other boats to choose from. The laser class is very strong right now, but never take that for granted. Building a class needs constant energy and to loose olympic status might destroy some fleets and might have a huge impact on the class.
Just one example: the OCR that is going on this week, and which gets a lot of attention, would not include lasers.

I am surprised that you are not all upset!

Arguing this point as a Laser World Council member would (I quit 7 years ago, don't worry) it makes perfect sense to me that the Laser should replace the Finn as the Men's Singlehanded class. The idea that it is "open" is a joke. Have we seen ANY female make it to the Olympics Regatta in a full rig?

Laser is a true International class, because it is affordable, and sailed by thousands in over 100 countries. Finn is an "elite" class that can only be sailed by big heavy sailors, and can only be bought by "yachtsmen" with deep pockets.

In the US the Laser is (I believe) the only class that needs to hold qualifiers for the Olympic Trials. Hundreds of sailors try to make it into the 30-odd boat Trials fleet. (at least this was the case last time I was involved, in 2000). How many sailors show up for the Finn trials?

That being said, I don't think it would be a bad thing for the Laser Class if it WAS cut from the Olympic regatta. Membership in North America is currently WAY down - maybe more focus on grass roots sailors and less on the top-level would stimulate Class membership and regatta attendance?

We recently hosted the District 13 Champs, and two Olympic hopefuls showed up. In a fleet of 74 boats (40 Rads, 24 Lasers, 10 4.7's) those two guys hogged most of the 1's and 2's, ALL of the publicity, and ended up tied for First Overall. Maybe more of the second string (still really good) sailors would show up for District regattas if these full-time (essentially professional) sailors were off trying to bulk up their bodies to race Finns.

The curmudgeonly redheaded ex-Madam Vice

Interesting observations! However, I disagree with you that the laser-class would be better off if it were not an olympic class. Your obeservation is not a failure of class politics. There is no class in the world that can do the "grass roots" campaign you are talking about. This is local fleets' failure!

To take your example of your district regatta: 74 boats is a great turn out. You must have done a great job in organizing this. However, if people went home diappointed because they were beaten by two olympic hopefuls, who did not share any of their knowledge: that is a failure on the side if the organization. Ask these guys to give a short talk on how they set up the boat, how they can sail so damned fast, and so forth.

I know from experience that if there are some olympic sailors they often group together and do not interact much. This seems -at first - to be a problem in their attitude, but I think that it is in fact a problem that we have: we think they are so great that they will probably not even answer our stupid question about how much vang they used today. Yet, the opposite is true: they love to talk about what they love so much: sailing a laser!

Summary: we can and have to use olympic sailors as a resource, so that we can all become a little better, and do not feel bitter about not winning, but feel good about knowing why we did not win.

Totally agree Georg. I have always found that the guys doing Olympic campaigns are more than willing to share their knowledge of Laser sailing with us mere mortals. You just have to ask.


Just sailing
OK, here's one for you. I had a first-time experience for a regatta I sailed in last year - on-the-water judging. This was a little suprising since it was a district level event but not a Grand Prix/nationals level event.

To me this seems really out of place for non-professional sailors having fun on the weekend. Sailing has always been a self-policing sport. Adding judges on the water only increases the cost and complexity of running a regatta.

Would we be having on-the-water judging if the Laser wasn't an Olympic class?


Active Member
Some might respond.."The judges have to learn somehow."

Others believe Judges should attend world championships and learn from the international judges before trying to serve as judges so they do not improperly judge local events and improperly teach local sailors how to race under improper enforcement.

Maybe a well trained international judge was in town and he was showing the locals how to judge correctly.

I doubt the District regatta organizers spent a ton of money importing well trained judges for their event. and therefore, perhaps with blissful ignorance as my guide, do not think the judging really impacted the regatta management expense.

At least I hope not.