In club races across North America the one-design concept is gone and with it the camaraderie.
Some people have been pointing to one cause of death. They say that things were going great for more than 30 years, with class approved boat-builders around the world all respecting their territory. But one day a person claiming to have the design rights for the Laser, sold these rights to a boat builder who apparently was no longer satisfied with the size of his territory. A builder in a different territory, who claims to have the rights to the Laser name went into retaliation mode. Like the results in many fights between married couples, the children were lost and confused.
On the course side, the 'old dogs' are not letting go of their lead, resulting that only a relatively very small group of younger sailors is on a campaign to be the next Olympic medal winners. The pro racing circuit itself is hurt by rumors of favouritism by IJ's, and by top sailors who seem to be taking advantage of their rock-star status to intimidate younger sailors.
But we are not the kind of people who complain or talk about problems without offering a possible solution. A class resurrection can happen.
What makes the resurrection possible?
The attraction sailors have to the challenge of riding this "untameable horse". In strong winds the Laser's small rudder blade makes steering very difficult, and the main-sheet gets easily caught on the transom when jibing. In lighter winds the boat starts to heel very early, requiring major hiking abilities and commitment to physical fitness.
How will the resurrection begin?
For the last few years, in Argentina a boat builder has been selling a very popular dinghy sailboat, which is commonly known as the 99% Laser
. It has all the Laser ingredients, races with the Laser, but does not display the Laser logo or name. The Argentinean program is a success as the boats are cheaper and parts are easily available. It is now time to take the Argentinean initiative and offer boats worldwide.
As the Laser name can not be used what will be the boat's name?
To stay in tune with the 99%-Laser, and benefit from common race course names, the boat will be called the 99er
. The domain name 99erclass.org has been registered. Original Lasers are welcome to take part in 99er
events. The 99er class rules will allow multiple builders.
What role can ILCA play?
ILCA can run both the 99er
and the Laser programs side by side. The Laser (Men) and Laser Radial (Women) Worlds, Europeans, PanAm, Asian and Olympics games will be sailed on the Laser which each competitor will have to bring to the event, just like sailors of other olympic classes do. All other races, 4.7, Radial open, and Master events will be run on the 99er
. As a benefit to sailors from ILCA's development efforts the 99e
r may use the Radial cut full rig sail. Some are suggesting the 99er
will also approve the 8.1m2 rig Rooster has been pushing for years. It should be easy for ILCA to get one of the boat builders to showcase their boats for charter in International events making participation in international 99er class regattas worldwide easy for the traveling sailor. ILCA can transition slowly and carefully to the 99er by adjusting the current Laser class rules to follow the changes the Optimist class made to control multiple boat builders. The 99er
may also have some social rules for example: Winners who don't show up to thank the hosting yacht club by attending the prize giving ceremony at thend of a regatta, will start the next class event with five (5) non-deductible extra points.
What will ISAF "say" about the 99er?
ISAF seems to easily take ownership of any successful class program. They have also been known to complain for years about the fact that there are too many Laser World titles each year. The 99er should make them happy in all aspects.
What will the current boat builders do?
They are the true winners here. It will take time for new builders to catch up. The current builders can continue selling the Laser, and also offer the 99er
On the legal side based on information "uncle Google" provided, the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, is valid for 10 years, and when this time expires the boat design is in the public domain. We also never heard about a case in which LP, BK or any other enterprise ever tried to prevent anyone from building Laser clones based on design right claims.
How can you take part in this (R)evolution?
The 99er needs to get off the ground. If you are willing to put your mind and expertise to make it happen write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
we will share all the emails in a way that will allow the class to evolve, and for you to be on the board of directors in case ILCA does not endorse the program.
: The Dominican Republic is just 700 miles away from the United states which makes transportation to the US easy and quick. Dominican made products enjoy special benefits when imported to North America. Dominicans are great craftsman, with a base salary starting at $400.00 a month. We have began the due diligence to start building the 99er
in the DR.
Remember that if you can't find cheap flights to Cabarete (POP), Cibao International airport (STI) is just 1.5 hours away.