Laser/ILCA Turns 50

With over 218,000 boats built, and boats being raced in over 140 countries, in 2021 ILCA will celebrate the remarkable 50 year history for the world’s largest one design class.

It started out simply as Ian Bruce’s idea in 1969 to create a “car topper” dinghy and his call to friend Bruce Kirby, who famously sketched the boat’s lines and sail plan on a napkin.

From the initial 1969 prototype TGIF (Thank God Its Friday) the boat was first launched at the New York Boat Show in 1971 and it has gone on to become the greatest sailboat in the history of one-design racing.

You can see more about the origins of the Laser here .

ILCA is planning 50th birthday celebration events later this year that all sailors around the globe can take part in.

We are always open to suggestions from sailors on ideas for birthday events.


Six New Class Builders

In accordance with World Sailing’s Olympic Equipment Policy, which states that any interested and qualified manufacturer must have the opportunity to become a builder of Olympic equipment ILCA have now appointed six new builders worldwide joining PSA here and PSJ in Japan.

To comply with the WS policy the International Laser Class boats will be sold under the ILCA brand in order to allow builders to sell boats in any part of the world without trademark restrictions.

The new builders are;

  • Devoti Sailing s.r.o. (Poland)
  • Element 6 Evolution Co Ltd (Thailand)
  • Nautivela srl (Italy)
  • Ovington Boats Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • Qindao Zou Inter Marine Co., Ltd (China)
  • Rio tecna srl (Argentina)

All ILCA approved builders’ boats are manufactured from moulds made from ILCA master tooling and are built in strict compliance with the standards and specifications of the class Build Manual.

In Australia we have been fortunate to have the most experienced builder in PSA here so perhaps little change in supply arrangements. Some other Laser Regions had not been well served under the previous builder arrangements so are very pleased to have production closer to home – an advantage we have enjoyed for a long time.


ILCA 2021 World Championships Applications

International Laser Class Association has announced that applications for entry for the following World Championships are now being accepted.

The ILCA deadline for receiving paid applications for initial allocation of places is 23 March 2021 at 23:59 Central US Time which is 24 March 16:59 Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time (AEDT). ILCA say that if you do not apply by the deadline, you may have little chance of receiving an entry offer.

Information about all ILCA Laser World Championships and access to applications is available through the ILCA events page HERE.

If these events can’t be held as World Championships due to travel restrictions there is provision for them to be run as International Regattas for those who can travel to and from the venue.

Sailors considering entering these ILCA 2021 World Championship events should carefully read the “Entry Regulations” and Attachment 1 “Application and Entry Procedure” of the respective Notices of Race;

Also relevant is Australian Government Smart Traveller web site advice.
This includes the Australian Government’s overseas travel ban for citizens and permanent residents invoked in March 2020.

Australians are likely to be blocked from most international travel until at least 2022. Federal Health Department boss Brendan Murphy warned that substantial border restrictions and hotel quarantine rules will remain in place this year. In mid January Murphy said “I think we will go most of this year with still substantial external border restrictions”.


Whitsunday Regattas April 2021

With border restrictions easing (for the most part) the Queensland Laser Association Committee is keen to welcome all Laser sailors to participate in a program of regattas and coaching to be held in the pristine waters of the Whitsunday region in April 2021 as follows:

  • Sail Airlie – 3-5 April (Easter) – hosted by Whitsunday Sailing Club, Airlie Beach;
  • Coaching – 6-7 April – by QAS Head Coach, Shane Smith – from Whitsunday Sailing Club, Airlie Beach; and
  • Queensland Laser Championships: 8-10 April – hosted by Port Denison Sailing Club, Bowen on behalf of the QLA.

Further details are provided in the attached flyer HERE.


Performance Sailcraft New Management

There have been a lot of changes in the class builders over the past year with four of projected six new class builders now in production. These are;

  • Devoti Sailing s.r.o. (Poland)
  • Nautivela srl (Italy)
  • Ovington Boats Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • Rio Tecna srl (Argentina)

They join legacy builders Performance Sailcraft Australia (PSA) and Japanese builder Performance Sailcraft Japan (PSJ).

Under new arrangements any builder can supply equipment to any world market. More detail is in a post on the ILCA web site HERE.

We have been fortunate to have local builder PSA supporting us and in particular most recently meeting the huge demand for supplied equipment and charter World, National & Regional Championships in 2020.

PSA have recently announced management changes and its continued commitment to the class and local sailors. Ian Douglas has been appointed General Manager. If you need any class equipment or a complete new boat contact PSA on 02 4389 1088 or via their web site www.psasailing.com.au

The PSA press release on their changes is HERE.


ALCA AGM – 9.00am 15th December

Due to COVID-19 and the postponement of the Australian Laser Championships this year’s ALCA AGM will be held by Zoom from 9.00am AEDT on 15th December.

The Agenda and tabled reports are HERE. The Zoom meeting details are on the Agenda.

All members of Australian Laser Districts are invited to attend.


A Blast from the Past

2010 Nationals Tom Slingsby on his way to a very big win – Photo Greg Pratt

If we can’t have an Australian Championship this year we can at least reflect on the great events of the past.

Greg Pratt has dusted off photos which he took at the 2010 Nationals at Adelaide Sailing Club. You can see these photos HERE. In this series Tom Slingsby won 10 of the 11 races which is about as dominant a win as you can get at this level.

You can see the results of the Standards HERE and thanks to the work of Rob Lowndes and others the results of the Nationals going back to last century are HERE. You may not recall how you went in the past but the internet never forgets.


New Australian Laser App

Aus Lasers Logo

Thanks to a VLA initiative and finance we now have a new mobile app which each Australian Laser district can use and which will provide notifications, information, documents, results etc. relevant to the district and regattas.

Many sailors will have seen how useful this information and notifications are for regattas when a similar app was used at the Victorian 2020 events earlier in the year.

The app is free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store – just search “Australian Lasers” and look for the distinctive app logo or click on one of the links below.

Apple App Store
Google Play Store

You will get notifications of any new information on one Australian Laser district and one Regatta which will be the last district and last regatta which you accessed. You can also see National Laser results, messages and documents by selecting the ALCA icon on the home screen.


Laser Regatta at Gove – Arnhem Land NT

Lasers packed ready for shipping to Gove

In September 12 Lasers were shipped on three trailers from Darwin joining 11 local boats to compete in the Gove Sailing Regatta at Gove Boat Club on the north eastern tip of Arnhem Land on the Gulf of Carpentaria. This is one of the most remote sailing clubs in Australia (and possibly the world).

The regatta was sailed on the beautiful waters of Melville Bay in front of the club, an area that is well known for its good fishing and large crocodiles, adding some extra excitement to Laser sailing.

The racing was over three days from 26 to 28 September with five races each day. The age of the Laser sailors ranged from 13 to 68 years.

NT Laser President Gary Martin’s report on the event is HERE.


Aluminium Radial Bottom Sections to be Used for Olympics

The ILCA has confirmed that Aluminium Radial Lower Masts will be used as supplied equipment for the Women’s Single Handed Dinghy event in the Tokyo Olympic Games Sailing Competition.

Although the composite lower mast became class legal for competition world wide in the Radial class beginning 1 September 2020, its use may be restricted in some additional events leading up to the delayed Olympic games in Tokyo (currently scheduled for 2021).

ILCA says that the race documents for the remaining Olympic qualification events (Europe and Asia) will be amended to only allow use of the aluminium Radial Lower Mast. Note that an announcement of the dates and locations of the Olympic qualification events is expected soon and ILCA will pass along that information as soon as it becomes available. 


Oceania Fiji Laser Event Cancelled

The third running of the the 2020 Oceania Fiji Laser Masters and Open Championship which was to be held from 26th to 30th October 2020 at Denarau Island Fiji has been cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.


Australian Laser National Championships Changes

Australian Sailing has announced HERE that it has ceased running Australian Youth Championships. It will continue to run State Youth Championships once COVID-19 orders allow.

In their announcement AS say that clubs are at the centre of a sustainable future for youth sailing and that the development of a club based coaching program is a priority for them. They also say that resourcing will be dual focused;

  • Helping to develop sailors so that they stay engaged at their club and remain lifelong members of our sailing community
  • Provide opportunities for aspiring athletes to progress from club to national level

ALCA welcomes this change and AS’s Youth initiatives.

Following AS’s change ALCA will be placing additional emphasis on Youth at our Australian Championship events. The Laser Australian Championships already include Youth categories as cube events. These championships will become the selection event for the Laser sailors in the World Sailing run Youth Sailing World Championships and are and will remain the ranking events for applicants for all ILCA World Championships.

ALCA will rename the Australian Championships as Australian Laser Open and Youth Championships. Going forward these championships will always be run as separate events from the Masters while the Australian Laser Masters will be run as a separate annual event.

The Australian Open and Youth Championship 6 year rotation around the states will be unchanged though as previously advised the WA event at Fremantle SC due to COVID-19 will be postponed for one year.

The separate Australian Masters event will be held on a three year rotation around the east coast mainland states.

It is expected that with the greater focus on youth in the National Open and Youth Championships and with the increase in emphasis and numbers in the 4.7 at these events the Laser Nationals will continue to grow and prosper.

The separate National Masters events have always been popular and very well attended. ALCA considers that running more of these will increase Master’s participation and interest.     

The rotation sequence for these events will be as follows:

Open & YouthMasters
Year1-8 JanuaryFebruary
2021No EventNo Event
2022WALA (Fremantle)VLA (Venue TBA)
2023NSW & ACT (Georges River)NSW & ACT (Port Stephens)
2024SALAQLA
2025QLAVLA
2026TDLANSW & ACT
2027VLAQLA

2020 Women’s Regatta Cancelled

Double Bay Sailing Club have decided to cancel this year’s Women’s Regatta.

The decision follows from the NSW Office of Sport recommendation last week that community sports organisations cease activities that result in the mixing of participants and staff from different regions including participants from different regions within Greater Sydney.

DBSC Commodore Andrew Cox’s notice on the event is HERE.

The club is really keen to run the event  and it has been scheduled for 25-26 September in 2021.


2021 Australian Laser Championships Postponed

Due to uncertainty about COVID-19 health orders and border restrictions, ALCA in consultation with event organisers WA Laser Association and Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC), has decided to postpone the 2021 Australian Laser Championships to  1-8 January 2022 at FSC.

The Australian Open Laser Championship rotation order is unchanged so the event after Fremantle will be the NSW & ACT hosted championship at Georges River Sailing Club 1-8 January 2023.

As you may be aware Australian Sailing has cancelled their Australian Youth Championships 2021 which were to be held at SoP YC WA. They had earlier conveyed their decision not to run National Youth Championships after 2021.

As there will be no 2021 Australian Championship event the ALCA  AGM will be held online instead. The AGM will be held by Zoom on 15 December 2020. Details and arrangements will be conveyed closer to the meeting date.


SPLM Cancelled Due to Travel Restrictions

Queensland Laser Association has cancelled the South Pacific Laser Masters scheduled for 7-10 August at RQYS. An open Laser event over the weekend 8-9 August will be run instead for those who are in, or can enter, Queensland.

QLA President Michael Wilson has issued the following release.

On behalf of the QLA I’m disappointed to advise that we have been forced to cancel the South Pacifc Laser Masters (SPLM) regatta due to competitors from New Zealand, Victoria and Greater Sydney being unable to attend.

If you have already entered we are in the process of returning your entry fee via RQYS.

In lieu of SPLM we are intending to hold a two day regatta, the Queensland Mid-Winter Laser regatta, on the same weekend which will be open to all Laser sailors, not just Masters. If you can travel to RQYS for the 8th and 9th August we would love to see you at this regatta.

A Notice of Race and entry registration will shortly be available on the RQYS web site.


ALCA COVID-19 Championship Policy

ALCA has issued a policy document to cover the naming and awarding of cubes and perpetual trophies when sailors are restricted from attending National or District (State) Championships due to COVID-19 health orders.

The policy document is HERE.

Due to uncertainty around the opening of Australia’s external borders it has been decided not to incorporate the Oceania Championships with the Australian Championships 2021 in Fremantle.


SLM – Active Sailing Clubs

Our ALCA Youth Representative Don Elks has been working since 2002 developing and perfecting a club level dinghy training program which generates membership growth for junior through to adult sailing. The program is titled Structured Learning Methodology SLM.

The program assures that every dollar invested by participating clubs delivers quality training, member growth, and retention at the lowest marginal cost. The program is simple to operate and it adapts to any fleet structure. Under the program coaches acquire knowledge and improve on the job. With a functional training capability clubs can raise funds, run courses and events.

Trials so far are demonstrating real benefits at community based as well as large professionally staffed clubs. Trials of the program are ongoing at Fremantle SC, Hunters Hill SC, South of Perth YC, McCrae YC, Brisbane SS and starting up at Mornington YC and Royal Sydney YC.

Don Elks is currently gauging the level of interest in SLM to decide how best to support more clubs. If you or your club may be interested please have a look at the SLM site HERE and get in touch with Don using the form, the email or phone listed on the Contact tab.


COVID-19 Restrictions Information Hub

Australian Sailing has an information hub with all the latest information and advice on COVID-19 restrictions. They also have an archive their COVID-19 related news stories and updates.

The information hub is HERE.


Interview With Two Toms

Interesting talk with the two Toms Slingsby and Burton with Ronstan’s Stephen Brayshaw.

What does the sailing journey of an Olympic champion look like? Training and sailing tips on how to become a better Laser and Moth sailor look HERE .

You can see Tom Slingsby in the gold medal race in the London 2016 Olympics HERE.


She’s Back – The Women’s Regatta 26-27 September

2019 Women’s Regatta Participants

The Women’s Regatta hosted by Double Bay Sailing Club in Sydney will be held on 26 and 27 September 2020. This will be the first Australian Laser regatta of the 2020-21 season.

The event will be open, as hopefully the state borders will be by then, allowing full interstate participation as in previous years.

After the success of the 2018 and 2019 regattas, the DBSC organising team of Clare Alexander and Christine Patton are back to present the not-to-be-missed annual event for women Laser sailors of all ages and abilities.

Sailing training and competition in all classes has been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, so the first Laser regatta in Australian waters will certainly generate excitement in the community and start the season on a high.

The event format will be adapted to the Public Health advice at the time and will include two days of racing on Sydney Harbour, sailing workshops/clinics, group dinner, and prizegiving.

The flyer for the regatta is HERE and you can find the expression of interest HERE 


Progress With New Class Builders

Despite COVID-19 new class builders are progressing with production from the three new European builders expected in the European Summer.

The reasons for the changes to the class builder arrangements stemming from the requirement by World Sailing for open supply of Olympic equipment are covered in our earlier post HERE.

Six of the seven builders originally selected are progressing towards commercial supply of hulls. These are;

  • Devoti Sailing s.r.o. (Poland)
  • Element 6 Evolution Co Ltd  (Thailand)
  • Nautivela srl (Italy)
  • Ovington Boats Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • Qindao Zou Inter Marine Co., Ltd (China)
  • Rio tecna srl (Argentina)

Current builders PSA and PSJ are retained.

Once the hull supply is bedded down ILCA will be moving to open up the supply of parts – spars, foils and sails. A full description of the ILCA arrangements and plan is HERE.


50th Anniversary for the Laser coming up September 2021

ILCA are considering a proposal to promote to sailors, class districts, sailing clubs and associations around the world to encourage holding a fun day of racing, or just sailing, a Laser to celebrate the `boat and the class’ 50th anniversary.

Clubs (and/or individuals) will be encouraged to organise a regatta or a single race, or to just to get out for a fun sail in a Laser, new or old.

The proposal being considered is HERE.

If you have ideas let us know.

The background to the Laser origins is;

In Autumn of 1970 the prototype Laser (called the Weekender at the time, with “TGIF” on the sail) entered and won the America’s Teacup regatta in Wisconsin. The boat was named “Laser” in November that year.

Production started over the winter months and the first boats starting to rapidly sell in 1971. The first large regatta was the 1971 North American Championships (won by Dick Tillman); hence, 2021 will be the 50th anniversary of Laser racing and the class association.


Update on Relaxation of COVID-19 Restrictions

Australian Sailing have issued information from their enquiries on changes of COVID-19 restrictions in effect from 15 May.

In most states the easing allows gathering outdoors of up to 10 people (equals 10 Lasers) up from 2 previously. The new normal 1.5m and 4m² distancing rules apply.

AS says that at this stage formal racing is not allowed.

You can check AS’s specific advice relevant to your state on their COVID-19 Information Hub HERE.


Remaining 2020 World Championships Cancelled – 2021 World Events Announced

International Laser Class Association has been trying to find a viable arrangement to allow the Radial and 4.7 Youth and Under 21 World Championships to proceed. These events were scheduled for July and August in Italy and Poland. ILCA have now concluded that the three events can’t be run and they are cancelled. Notice is HERE.

It was fortunate as it transpired that, in spite of bush fire smoke and some ordinary winds, the main Men’s and Women’s Laser Worlds and the Radial Men’s Worlds were able to be concluded at Sandringham before CV emerged.

Planning for 2021 events has proceeded and dates and venues for five of the World Championships have been announced HERE. These and our Australian and Oceania events planned for 2020/21 are listed on the Events Page of this site HERE.


Eight Bells – Ward McKimm

It is with sorrow we record the passing of Canadian Ward McKimm (1927-2020). Ward was one of the primary founders and drivers behind the Laser Class.

As reported by The Globe and Mail of Canada , “In the 1970s, he left the practice of law to join his friend and former International 14 sailing partner Ian Bruce to develop the Laser sailboat, which eventually became and still is the largest sailboat class in the world.

The first North American Laser Championship took place in 1971 and the first Laser World Championship in 1974. Ward participated in these and many later Laser championships and became one of the world’s top Laser sailors.


Summer of 2020 Event Report

It takes a huge amount of strategy, planning and organisation and hard work to run successful large high profile sailing events.

Volunteers for Laser 2020 Events at Sandringham Yacht Club

The brilliant team in the Victorian Laser Association under Event Director James Mitchell and VLA President John d’Helin along with more than 100 volunteers and full support from hosting clubs Sandringham YC and Royal Geelong YC did a fabulous job organising and running the six events of the Summer of 2020 in Melbourne earlier this year.

There were 850 entries for the six events and 300 for the Laser World Masters which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the CV. The sailors came from more than 40 countries. There are posts covering each of these events earlier on this site.

James has prepared a post event report which is essential reading for folks contemplating running sailing events on this scale. James’ report is HERE.


Suggestions for Changes to ILCA Constitution

While we have been getting on with sailing and enjoying a great summer of sailing the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) has been going through a few dramas. Starting with the retention of our Olympic status leading to the need to open up the market for class builders complicated by trade mark issues and the licensing of new builders around the World – and did I mention a World pandemic leading to the cancelling and rescheduling of World Championships and the Olympics.

In spite, or perhaps in part because of these dramas, ILCA have undertaken a review of our nearly 50 year old and much amended constitution. This review hopefully will address issues resulting from the recent builder and trade mark changes but also to better equip the class to continue to prosper for the next 50 years.

Much of the existing constitution, which is online HERE, is still highly relevant so the idiom concerning babies and bath water will be respected. As well any changes will need the support off at least 2/3rds of the membership to be passed.

ILCA is calling for suggestions for changes from members. The details of how the change process is planned to go and how, where and by when members can suggest changes is on the ILCA web site HERE.

If you want to have your say now is your chance.


Interview with 2021 Olympic Rep Mara Stransky

Mara on her epic sail – referred to in the interview

You can see a QLA interview with Australia’s 2021 Laser Radial Olympic representative Mara Stransky HERE.

There is a short piece on Mara from Channel 10 Brisbane broadcast on 27 April HERE.

if you would like to donate to Mara’s Olympic campaign, you can do so through the Australian Sports Foundation (ASF).  The donations are tax deductible. 

The link to Mara’s ASF funding page for donations is https://asf.org.au/donate/mara-stransky/             

The  ASF Terms & Conditions under which you are donating can be found at the bottom of the ASF Home Page”


European Laser Event Plans

We were fortunate to get almost all our season’s events in before CV took over. Spare a thought for the Northern Hemisphere sailors – it looks like their busy 2020 season is shot.

For sailors who might have been interested in competing in Europe in 2020 most of the Europa Cup and Euromasters events have been rescheduled (in the hope of the situation improving) or cancelled.

Please refer to the EuroILCA web site HERE for details.

For future planning EuroILCA are scheduling their 2021 season with the following dates and venues.

  • Senior Europeans Varna ( Bulgaria ) 15 to 22 May 2021
  • Radial Youth Europeans Kaštela Croatia) 26 June to 3rd July 2021
  • 4.7 Europeans Travemünde (Germany) 23 to 31 July 2021
  • Masters Europeans Arco (Italy) 23 to 29th July 2021
  • U 21 Europeans Cyprus 9 to 16th October 2021


Can I exercise on my Laser?

To relieve the tedium of life indoors most Laser sailors are getting out for regular exercise which is both conditionally allowed and encouraged under current Government regulations in most jurisdictions.

The NSW Government Office of Sport says on their web site that during the COVID-19 pandemic “Where possible, it is important sporting clubs and organisations continue to allow people to exercise, so long as social distancing is practised and rules around public gatherings of no more than two people are complied with.”

As we know sailing your Laser gives you a pretty good work out on most days and a few sailors have asked can sailing a boat be counted as exercise under the new order of things. Well the answer is yes with some sensible restrictions unless you are in Victoria where all forms of boating are not exercise but a recreation and are not allowed.

You can check on details of restrictions and updates for your state on the web sites linked below.