This is interesting.
For those who don’t follow these matters, there has been a dispute running for sometime between Bruce Kirby, designer and rights holder to the Laser Dinghy name and design and the builders in Europe & North America. Apparently, they have not paid Royalties on the boats they have sold for quite a while.
There have also been supply-chain difficulties for both boat and genuine class-authorised parts. Rumours are that those builders have been in financial difficulty, although how you can manage that with an effectively monopoly and perhaps the highest mark-up product in sailing is beyond me.
So today, Bruce Kirby has started the process of converting the Laser to the Kirby Torch. Don’t worry, club sailor, your Laser has not become obsolete overnight. The new website says “To accelerate this outcome, the Kirby Torch builders agree that all ISAF-plaqued Lasers are class legal in the Kirby Torch fleet”
Whether the International Laser Class, ISAF, let alone the IOC, will accept the change in anyone’s guess. But if it happens there is going to be lots of “search and replace” work to be done, against both words and graphics. I suspect the Search Engine Optimisers are now scratching their heads too!
Will it make a blind bit of difference to our Laser Sailing? Not much, I suspect.
Final thought. The dispute has got quite ‘interesting’ with the builders using offshore companies and the like. That new website also says that Kirby considers the boats with unpaid Royalties ‘counterfeit’ (from a builder-action viewpoint, there is no hint the ultimate boat-buyer has a problem). I am not a lawyer but I wonder whether it moves any legal action for those unpaid royalties from the civil court (where there can be hiding behind ‘the corporate veil’) to the criminal court, which might shift the jurisdiction and make it a personal, not company, crime. That would be fun.