The ILCA Hall of Fame includes builders of the class and champion sailors who have made an extraordinary
impact. The ILCA World Council established the selection criteria for entry as individuals who, over the
course of their sailing careers, made an outstanding impact on the class and the sport of sailboat
racing by virtue of the excellence of their achievements as sailors and/or contributors to competitive
sailing through technical expertise, design, writing, or vision. Inductees receive a unique Hall of Fame ILCA Cube. Nominations to the Hall of Fame are welcomed from any ILCA member, with a selection vote to be taken annually by the ILCA World Council.
Ian Bruce (Canada)
With a concept in mind and a set of line drawings from friend and fellow Canadian Bruce Kirby, in 1970, Ian created a boat, rig, and manufacturing process and, very importantly, class rules and member association that has essentially remained unchanged to this day, and that still represents the epitome of one-design sailing. By 1974, Ian had opened nine majority-owned plants worldwide, building the Laser, and the rest is history. Often regarded as the Father of the Laser, in 2009, Ian received The Order of Canada, the nation’s highest honor. Ian sailed in two Olympics (1960 and 1972 in the Finn and Star Classes) and also designed and/or built 11 other international sailboat classes.
Bruce Kirby (Canada)
Bruce started his career as a reporter in Montreal before editing Yacht Racing magazine and, in his spare time, took up yacht design and drew what became the most successful dinghy in all of sailing. Recognized around the world as the designer of the Laser, Bruce’s sailboat design career also embraces seven renowned International 14′ Dinghy designs, a multitude of successful one-design classes, and an America’s Cup 12 Metre. Bruce also represented Canada at the Olympics 1956 and 1964, sailing Finns, and in a Star in 1968. Bruce is a member of the International Yacht Racing Hall of Fame and both the Canadian and U.S. Sailing Halls of Fame. Bruce received the Order of Canada in September 2018.
Jeff Martin (Great Britain)
For many people in the sailing community, the name Jeff Martin is synonymous with the Laser class. He served the class for over four decades as Executive Secretary. Sailing since he was 13, Jeff competed in keelboats, offshore and quarter-ton boats, as well as Lasers. During the 1970s, he sailed Tornados, winning the European Championship. Jeff competed in the first Laser Worlds in 1974 in Bermuda and helped organize each subsequent Championship through 2018. He was a tireless promoter of the class and served as an International Measurer, International Race Officer, and International Jury at countless Laser World Championships.
Marit Söderström Nord (Sweden)
Marit is regarded as truly the first female Laser sailing champion who made her mark in the Laser Standard rig well before the Radial rig was introduced. She won a combined total of 10 sailing world titles, including 3 World titles in the Europe singlehanded dinghy (1978, 1979, 1981) and four titles in the Laser (Standard rig) at the IYRU World Women’s sailing championships (1979, 1981, 1982, 1983). Marit then stepped into the 470 dinghy, where she helmed to a victory at the 1988 World Championships, bringing home the silver medal from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Marit also sailed in two open Laser Worlds (1980 and 1985), competing against men, and captured the Women’s World title at both events. One can only imagine the titles and medals Marit might have won had the Laser Radial been around and an Olympic boat during the peak of her sailing career.
Robert Scheidt (Brazil)
Known as “Mr. Laser,” Robert won an unprecedented nine Laser Men’s World Laser titles, two Olympic gold medals, and one silver medal in the Laser, including the first Laser gold medal awarded at an Olympic Games in 1996. After capturing the 2005 Laser Worlds in his home waters of Brazil, Robert switched to the Star Class, where he went on to win two Olympic medals. In 2013 he switched back to the Laser and amazingly won the Worlds again in 2013. When asked why he returned to the Laser, he remarked: “I love the concept of sailing on equal boats and to really test the talent of each sailor.”
Peter Seidenberg (USA)
The 2018 Laser Masters World Championships marked Peter’s 32nd straight appearance competing at the event, and he’s captured a remarkable 13 world titles in his age category to date. Known as the “Iron Master” of Laser sailing, the only Masters Worlds he missed was the first one held in France in 1980, and that was only because he wasn’t aware the event was being held! Peter also created the Seitech Dolly that became the standard dolly in North America and beyond, not just for Lasers but for many dinghies. Read more about Peter here, including his incredible tale of how in 1963, in the dead of night, he and a friend escaped in a kayak from communist East Germany on to freedom.
Dick Tillman (USA)
Dick Tillman won the very first major Laser regatta: the 1971 North American Championship (87-boat fleet with many champion sailors competing). He then went on to win the following two Laser North American titles.
A former US Air Force Major from Indiana, USA, Dick was an alternate member of the U.S. sailing team at the 1976 Olympics and was named US Sailor of the Year in 1965. Dick was National Intercollegiate Sailing Champion with the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957. Dick Tillman holds national, North American, and world titles in the Snipe, Finn, Laser, and Sunfish classes, won a bronze medal at the 1959 Pan American Games in the Snipe, and was Great Grand Master Laser Radial World Champion in 2002.
Dick has been a significant volunteer contributor to the sport of sailing, having been a director of the U.S. Sailing Association for three years, chair of the National Single-handed Championship Committee for seven years, commodore of the Snipe Class International Racing Association, sailing representative to USOC Athletes Advisory Council, Executive Director of the International J/24 Class Association, president of the US Windsurfing Association and president of the International Sunfish Class Association.
Dick wrote Laser Sailing for the 1990s (published in 1991) and also The Complete Book of Laser Sailing (first published in 2005), both widely regarded as the “Bible” of how to rig, sail and race a Laser. Dick is known for being a true gentleman on and off the water and for always being available to share his sailing knowledge.
Takao Otani (Japan)
Mention ILCA sailing in Japan, and the name Takao Otani invariably pops up as synonymous with its very being, growth, and success. As the longtime owner of Performance Sailcraft Japan, a member of the ILCA World Council, an international judge, and exceptional race officer, Otani is a veritable force in spearheading the growth of sailing and the class in Asia and around the world. Being the first Asian to be inducted into the ILCA Hall of Fame is just one of the many firsts for Otani in a lifetime of love and involvement with the sport.
He was there right at the very beginning in the seminal 1970s when he met sailing legends like Keith Musto and Ian Bruce, which brought him to recognize the ILCA dinghy as the embodiment of his dream sailboat: an affordable, off-the-shelf, equal performance, one-design sailboat (his words exactly) that would be instrumental in promoting sailing to the world with a robust class association to foster its growth and continuity. Takao was there to help run the first world championships in Bermuda in 1974 but finding that the Japanese representative could not attend, Takao sailed the event instead using a borrowed life jacket. And he has never looked back since, being instrumental to the development of the class, both in Japan and the rest of the Asian region.
For a young man aspiring to be a freelance journalist and yacht designer, Takao has indeed made a name for himself and for the class in pursuing the dream that continues to this day!