World Council's heavy hands

Thread starter #1
In a recent thread titled "North American access to drLaser", I noted that access within North America to the technical drLaser articles would once again be restricted to only ILCA-NA members. I noted that "this policy change was not requested by ILCA-NA and is necessitated by a planned publication."

Yes, the rationale above was noted as a courtesy to our new NA leadership, to prevent any public misperceptions at the wake of the recent NA elections. But it is also true that drLaser intended to publish an article that only ILCA Membership should have access to.

For the past month, I have been working on an article about a new, experimental Laser fixture designed and developed by an ILCA member (not me). The design was previously brought to the attention of ILCA, tested, and was then completely re-engineered. It was recently submitted for the review of the ILCA World Council and the ILCA Technical and Measurement Committee. The designer had hoped that coverage on drLaser would inform the Laserites world-wide and offer an objective, class-independent, sailors' view to ILCA.

Preparing the article, drLaser also wanted to reflect the past and current views of the World Council, the Advisory Committee and some Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) on this new Laser fitting. During this correspondence, it became evident that some members of the ILCA World Council had such negative views of the drLaser web site that they did not want to share their views with the Lasering public via the drLaser web site.

Now, I had an ethical obligation to inform the designer that publication on drLaser may not be viewed as something positive by certain members of the World Council. After consulting with sponsoring institutions, the designer decided that we would all be better off if we did not present this design to the Lasering world right now via drLaser.

So... you're not going to read about this new fixture on drLaser in the near future.

In retrospect, what we have here is a few individuals within the World Council who are (perceived to be) so powerful that an independent hardware designer and an OEM company can not overlook the possibility of antagonizing them merely by their choice of publication medium (or rather, since drLaser is unfortunately the only available medium of its kind, scope and reach -- by their decision to publicize). That's a loss for independent Lasering media. That's a loss for our Class. That's a loss for the Laser sailors.

What's more agonizing is the completely dumbfounding rationale offered by these World Council members for viewing the drLaser web site as something negative. IMHO, their views were untenable back in March 2003, and they have not educated themselves one bit since then. Yes, drLaser web site can be dangerous, but to such persons as individuals, not to the Class. We have seen numerous examples of that since 1996.

Even more dumbfounding is that some of these World Council members can act based on their blind convictions in totally unethical and unprofessional manners, exercising their heavy, autocratic hands to prevent the Lasering public from benefiting from the content offered by the drLaser web site.

It looks like the elections that have surgically removed the cancer within ILCA-NA have failed to clarify what is intolerable. The ILCA World Council may need a good clean-up, too!


Shevy Gunter
Editor, drLaser
Member, ILCA
Thread starter #2
J'Accuse (Pas par Emile Zola)

The incident reported here is probably a minor issue compared to other controversies faced by ILCA's World Council (WC) today. The triviality of the matter neither diminishes my rights to seek redress nor the WC's ethical and constitutional obligations to address it.

I also extend my apologies in advance to those who may have expected (or preferred) this post to be about certain other members of the ILCA WC.


In relation to an experimental Laser fitting which the designer thought should be made public on the "drLaser" web site, drLaser contacted President Jean-Luc Michon of "Association France Laser". Michon is the ILCA Contact for France and also the ILCA Chief Measurer.

drLaser thought Monsieur Michon's views were relevant for publication since:
1) Michon is also a member of the ILCA Measurement and Technical Committee to which the design was submitted by the designer for consideration;
2) Michon, as the ILCA Chief Measurer, constitutionally has the sole authority to interpret the terminology in the Rules to decide if this fixture is legal (and has in fact used that power during his tenure to "make" new rules under the pretext of "interpreting").

In drLaser's letter of inquiry, the second point was not made, and the views of the Measurement and Technical Committee about the new fitting were inquired. The other member of the Committee, Takao Otani, did not reply. Michon's reply to drLaser is quoted (in part) below.

Jean-Luc Michon wrote:
> I do not want to be cited on your website. The reason is
> really clear: your site contains some nazi cross and other
> words of the same type.
> You must know that this is against the French law, that's
> why each time somebody asked about your site, we tell him
> the story.
> Of course, you can think you are protected from legal law
> suit when you are in the US. It could different if you
> were coming to visit France. May i suggest you take out
> of your website all the nazi cross you have and all the
> allegations.

My sensitivity to privacy and intellectual property rights has been known. Notions of privacy versus publicness are wrapped in the delicate finery of manners and propriety. These depend on an acute sense of context, of what is appropriate, and when. It is with this ethical and legal knowledge that I publicly quote above from Michon's private reply to me.

Monsieur Michon's reply above is totally dumbfounding!

What kind of mind can confuse combating fascism with glorifying fascism? What kind of Frenchman does not know that the usage of "emblems" as means of publicity (referred to in Section 23 of the 1881 Act on the freedom of the press or Article R 645-1 of the new French Criminal Law) is to be frowned upon only if the emblem promotes an offence (racism, discrimination, hatred, fascism, crimes against humanity, violence, etc.) and not if it criticizes it?

Please note that the above views of Michon are news to me, too. They are not based on ANY past related correspondence of Michon with drLaser. In fact, the possibility that his opinion is affected by certain other heavy-handed WC members (who would rather drLaser were "sterilized" and did not expose the wrongs of our Class Officers) is documented in writing.

I believe Chief Measurer's words and self-confessed policy as an Officer of ILCA-France are detrimental to ILCA, to all French Laser sailors, and at least to this ILCA member, as well as being a breach of contract, defamatory, libellous and tortious.

We need no such members on the ILCA World Council, let alone on our Championship venues or on the ILCA-France Executive Committee! This is the end of my 2004 Masters Worlds "bid" for me, in spite of the fact that I am already in Bitez.

Best regards,

Dr. Shevy Gunter
Editor, drLaser
Member, ILCA
Thread starter #3
Please don't exploit our gratitude!

Hi, all,

I had noted above in passing:
"Chief Measurer's words and self-confessed policy as an Officer of ILCA-France are detrimental to ILCA, to all French Laser sailors, and at least to this ILCA member, as well as being a breach of contract, defamatory, libellous and tortious."

To support the above claims, one must demonstrate that:
1. Contrary to Mr. Michon's opinion, there was nothing illegal in the drLaser coverage of the North American events during 2002-2003.
2. The said drLaser coverage served a purpose "useful" to the Lasering community.
3. Overall, drLaser web site is of "value" to Laser sailors as well as ILCA members.

The rest follows! If the above can be demonstrated, then there is no question that the self-confessed policy of Jean-Luc Michon to tell all ILCA-France members interested in the drLaser web site that
1. The drLaser web site contains nazi propaganda, and
2. French sailors should therefore not visit it,
A. providing a medium of exchange of information among Laser sailors throughout the world and enhancing the enjoyment of these sailboats, and
B. promoting and developing Laser class racing in all countries;

and constitutes

C. defamatory, libellous and tortious actions (in legal terms).

For those who may not realize it right away, A and B are the "OBJECTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL LASER CLASS ASSOCIATION", as noted in the ILCA Constitution. That is, if 1-3 can be demonstrated, it becomes obvious that ILCA member, AFL President and Chief Measurer Jean-Luc Michon's actions are in gross violation of the Objects of our Class.

Now, couple that with Article 12 of our Constitution that reads as:
"12. A member may be suspended by the World Council, on the recommendation of a District Association, for gross violation of the Rules and By-Laws, for committing an unlawful act in relation to the Association or one of its members, or for any unsportsmanlike conduct contrary to the interests of the members of the Association..." Then the trivial offence and my trivial complaint assume their true significance.

That's not all. Article 13 states:
"13. A Regional or District officer may be removed from office by the World Council for a willful and unjustifiable act of commission or omission detrimental to the Association or to its members."

Therefore, a procedurally valid application to the World Council for the immediate removal from office and suspension of membership of Jean-Luc Michon requires only the demonstration of 1-3 (and non-discriminatory treatment).

IF that avenue is ever pursued, the World Council would be put in a awkward spot. It is well known and documented that the WC contains other members that are as ignorant and heavy-handed as the Chief Measurer. If these individuals used their influence to affect any WC decisions about a petition in which they are parties themselves, or if the WC otherwise refused to defend our Constitution, all public trust in ILCA World Council would be lost.

Then, imagine the repercussions in the public media such as "Scuttlebutt" or "Sailing Anarchy"! Imagine ISAF's Paul Henderson (who is already keenly interested in taking the matter into his own hands to make heads or tails of our ambiguous Class Rules) considering this...

- o -

Those who know drLaser already guessed that I must have tried to handle this delicate matter privately and quietly and amicably at first. They are correct! As usual, I tried to keep it in the ILCA family. I gave the benefit of the doubt to the Chief Measurer and assumed that he just didn't pay attention. But they were adamant! My efforts to settle the matter with limited exposure were either ignored or rejected. (My settlement offer still stands.)

I just want to note that our Class Officers (like Jean-Luc Michon) who have been faithfully serving this community for years are nevertheless responsible for their actions. Our gratitude for their volunteerism does not grant them God-like rights and powers. This extends to all other parties that aim to similarly serve the Lasering community, including the paid ILCA staff, Laser Builders, Laser dealers, Laser merchandisers, parts manufacturers (and even "drLaser" and other private media).

We have seen ample examples in the recent past: certain dealers, merchandisers, builders, OEM, on-line fora and even ILCA itself have been held responsible towards Laser sailors and exposed for their wrongs. (We have memory, and we have means of preserving our history.) There is no reason why an even higher degree of responsibility and integrity should not be expected from our Chief Measurer and our World Council.

It is time for the World Council to realize the limits of its powers and start acting accordingly.

Best regards,

Shevy Gunter
Editor, drLaser

"Nothing reveals more of an extreme weakness of mind than
not to know the misery of a narrow-minded judgement."
(Montesquieu -- if I remember correctly)
Thread starter #4
The King and the peons

A version of this post was sent to ILCA President Ian Lineberger and Chief Measurer Jean-Luc Michon.

I'll first take you back to March 25, 2003:

On March 25, just 6.5 hours after a message I posted on the "NA Laser
Mailing List" about the importance of the independence of the Laser media,
then NA President Ryan Eric Minth had deliberately opened the road to
blatant commercialization of the NA Class and the "Mailing List". He had
posted an out of the blue "Super Glue Gel" endorsement message (1), raising
concerns about whether the NA Class could honestly represent sailors'
interests to Builders and OEM. (2)

I had posted a criticism, writing:
> Imagine an ILCA-NA President endorsing Seitech over Kitty Hawk
> ...<snip>... What kind of impartiality or honest representation
> can the NA sailors expect from an ILCA-NA Officer who advertises,
> say, North Sails or ...<snip>... Vanguard?

Vanguard's President Chip Johns was quiet up to this point during my
2003 criticism of the NA leadership. However, Johns reacted to this

On March 28, he announced that labelling as "fascist" ILCA-NA's efforts
to prevent such public criticism as above is "defacing his trademarks",
and requested that all Laser starburst symbols be removed from the
drLaser website. (3)

On March 29, Seitech's owner Peter Seidenberg also took the bait and
replied to my criticism by claiming the critic merely "craves for
attention". (4) (He did not have anything that he could ask back from

Between March 28 and March 31, the third company I named went on a
rampage. North Sails employee Blake Marriner asked co-employees Geoff
Moore, Bill Gladstone and Dan Neri to join in the unified attack. (5)
They all requested, albeit with no legal or ethical grounds, removal
from drLaser of links to North website articles they authored.

I had named four companies. Three had gone berserk in an effort to
"punish" drLaser... as if that would make any difference to me
personally or to drLaser website's content! (The fourth company, named
as a placebo, was well known for its ethical stance in such matters and
did not participate in the bonanza.)

The campaign continued. Unmentioned anywhere, David Dellenbaugh of
"Speed & Smarts" joined the bandwagon to ask the removal of his articles
... in spite of the fact that he did not have any articles linked from
drLaser (since he had taken them off of his own server months earlier).

These were all sailors we ALL blindly respected. Could they ALL have
been reading me wrong independently?

No! Some of them honestly confessed that they contacted me just because
someone they respected had asked them to. One caring Mailing List
subscriber that shall go unnamed had written (privately), "Be careful. If
they find a way to get hold of you, you will be dead."

The effort to silence the drLaser web site was of epic proportions
(while most of the "List" subscribers just sat and watched - as you do

One day, when they are eighty years old, some of these fine gentlemen
will try to remember: "Why had I done that? Who had asked me to do that?
Did I do the right thing?" Those who know the story of Emile Zola's essay
titled "J'accuse" will find parallels!

- o -

One year passed by since March 2003!

There has not been a single other blatant commercialization on the
ILCA-NA airwaves by NA Officers!

Gone are the NA despots in the names of Ryan Eric Minth and Mark Kastel!

Our Brad Green (who used to side with them) is now a wonderful, giving
volunteer managing this "Laser Forum" with an admirable Terms of Service
and with almost as many members as the Laser Mailing List.

To date, drLaser website continues to publish and to proudly show off an
image reading as "Use of the Laser starburst logo here was forbidden by
the NA Builder" on every page where the starburst used to appear.

But Chip Johns is still sitting on the ILCA World Council Advisory
Committee. Measurer Paul Millsom (AUS) is discarded quietly with no
public farewell messages, and the French man named Jean-Luc Michon --
the subject of my post (6) titled "J'Accuse (Pas par Emile Zola)" in this
thread -- is now appointed to that high linguistic and moral post.

- o -

One year passed by since March 2003! And what have we learned from

When drLaser requests the opinion of the Chief Measurer about John
Christianson's new Laser fitting, the learned Measurer responds (6):
> your site contains some nazi cross and other words of the
> same type.
> You must know that this is against the French law, that's
> why each time somebody asked about your site, we tell him
> the story.

You may ask: "What's just one more?" First Johns, Seidenberg, Marriner,
Moore, Gladstone, Neri, and Dellenbaugh... and now Michon. That's all...
The only difference is that Michon is speaking here in his capacity as
an ILCA-France Officer and as Chief Measurer.

I do not agree with the proposition (implied by some Mailing List
subscribers) that our Chief Measurer's fresh antagonism stems from the
ambiguities in the Laser Class Rules or other ILCA blunders I keep on
reporting in The Laser Forum and on the List (7). But it does make one
wonder about whether Vanguard's President is still absorbed in his past
fury and has undue influence on the ILCA Chief Measurer...

One may wonder how the Vanguard President would reply today if he were
asked (for publication on drLaser) about the Advisory Committee's views
about the new fitting? Would we be surprised if he just echoed "drLaser
website contains some nazi cross and other words of the same type"?

No, I am not being presumptuous here.

Is the Chief Measurer simply misguided? Is he under pressure? Is he
taking orders? Or is he independently ignorant enough to commit
defamatory, libellous and tortious actions and to violate ILCA's
Constitution because he is linguistically incapable of figuring out what
I did in 2003 and why (and/or the ILCA Constitution) by himself?

- o -

We all want to serve and enjoy this Class we love. But we will not
tolerate any aristocracy or kings or self-proclaimed gods in the World
Council take us for granted as a stupid, memoryless bunch of buyers
expected to uphold the Class ("their") Interests over Laser sailors' and
members' Individual Rights.

Considering the alternatives (8), the settlement I offered to ILCA is a
very reasonable place to start with after the Radial Worlds. I will look
forward to hearing from them.

Best regards,

Shevy Gunter
Member, ILCA

6. See the chronologically second post in this thread.
8. See previous (3rd) post in this thread.