Update from ILCA

Over the three weeks since our last announcement, ILCA has been working hard behind the scenes to secure our class in the Olympics and lay the foundations for our continued success.

We have engaged in meetings with World Sailing and discussions and negotiations with the commercial parties towards developing a FRAND compliant agreement between the relevant commercial parties.

All this work has been undertaken against a background of trying to deliver ILCA’s primary aims: retaining our class in the Olympics, ensuring the one-design nature of class-legal equipment for sailors in all regions of the world, and providing world-class events for our members.

We are pleased to say that progress has been made and we’ve seen positive movement by the commercial parties, but we must stress that we are still far from a satisfactory final agreement.  Much work remains to be done.

Publicity from some sources would try to indicate that all issues will soon be resolved.

However, we must emphasize that THIS IS NOT THE CASE. To achieve our goal we are still faced with overcoming many hurdles in an extremely short time if a satisfactory agreement is to be secured.

We are pleased that Laser Performance has publicly claimed agreement with the terms of World Sailing’s Olympic Equipment Policy, but we note that this is just the first step in reaching an agreement in a complex, multi-party arrangement between the commercial parties.  

As many people are aware, ILCA has in process a rule change proposal to remove the requirement for a class approved builder to have the rights to use a Laser trademark.

In a vote of the ILCA World Council, this rule change was overwhelmingly approved by an 11 to 2 margin, including the unanimous approval of all six ILCA Regional Chairmen.

In the case that the Laser trademark holders are ultimately unable to reach agreement between themselves and World Sailing, if approved, this rule change would ensure that our class can comply with World Sailing’s FRAND licensing requirements and remain in the Olympic games.

But more importantly, the rule change would provide that our class is always governed by our members in the best interest of our sport instead of being controlled by commercial interests.

ILCA understands that the idea of removing the requirement for a Laser trademark could be seen as contentious, but the clear intention is to provide our class with the ability to operate independently and to control our own fate with regards to the Olympic games. We see this as a positive step forward for our class.

In addition, the proposed rule change would allow for new builders and suppliers to enter the market and would alleviate the supply issues seen in many parts of the world.  

For these reasons, we believe the change offers the class its best option in case an agreement of the commercial parties fails to come together and as a result we would stand to lose Olympic selection.

Going forward, World Sailing have invited all parties to what they have described as a final meeting this Friday 28th to try and finalise a comprehensive agreement on FRAND licensing, the status of parties under the LCMA and compliance with World Sailing’s Olympic contract.

In recognition of this meeting and to avoid any negative influence on the World Sailing initiative, the ILCA World Council has agreed to defer the launch of the ballot until after this Friday’s meeting. If the meeting is successful in reaching an agreement with all parties that will guarantee Olympic retention, the class will take no further action on the rule change ballot. If not the World Council will immediately review the options with World Sailing and present our members with the alternatives available for Olympic retention.

We would stress that the negotiations are ongoing, testing and far from guaranteed of success. They require many parties to reevaluate long-established market positions and make substantial changes to their business models.

Your ILCA World Council are working tirelessly to try and achieve success in these discussions and to ensure that the strict one-design philosophy that underpins the success of the class is safeguarded while respecting the position of all parties.

Division within the class can only hinder our efforts to reach a solution and we ask that all of you support the class we love, support your representatives and act in the best interest of the worldwide success of our class.

Tracy Usher
International Laser Class Association