The Laser sailboat has been around since the early 1970s, and I’ve spent a lot of my life zipping around on what I fondly refer to as the “pain box.”
For the last four years there’s been a dispute that has continued to ramp up. The participants in this dispute include the designer Bruce Kirby, the business man Farzad Rastegar whose company LaserPerformance now owns the Laser Trademark, the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) and the International Sailing Federation Limitied (ISAF). The details are excruciating to follow, and so I haven’t done so carefully. Some things seem clear, however. Designer Bruce Kirby isn’t getting paid. The boats and the accessories are getting increasingly hard to find and doubt has been hanging around the future of the boat and class.
Two concrete developments may have set this dispute on a course for resolution. On March 4th Kirby filed a lawsuit seeking seeking payments and damages from LaserPerformance.
The second development is more interesting. Apparently some time ago Kirby filed for a trademark name and even an image. Does anyone think the fact the trademark name is the Kirby Torch and the Sailboat-Formerly-Known-as the-Laser is an Olympic class is a coincidence? Probably not. Actually, there are two Laser Olympic classes, the full rig for men and the Radial rig for women Olympians.
Does it somehow mean a return to the way it was or will it mean we’ll soon be sailing a Torch?
I’m pretty confident that there aren’t many Laser sailors out there who care whether there’s a Torch or Laser logo in the sail, just as long as there are boats to be had. And the ILCA doesn’t seem particularly concerned either, maintaining its flexibility and expressing hope for a resolution.
Thanks to Propercourse blogger “Tillerman” for his relentless pursuit of all Laser Truths.