November 24, 2015

A Little Surprise ...

by Pam
So, about two and half weeks ago, Doug traveled down to the annual season ending Wurstfest Centerboard Regatta.  Lake Canyon Yacht Club has this launching ramp that is rather hard to forget.  It has a reputation.  It’s infamous.  Just ask a J/24 sailor from District 14 or click on the picture below and go to the Texas J/24 website and see how to launch a J/24 by pushing it down a ramp.  Just the thought of it makes me think about fingernails on a chalkboard.

It’s been an off sailing year for me, so Doug headed down to Lake Canyon, alone, with my car … my favorite car ever, our tandem trailer, my dolly and his good Aussie Laser.  Headed down to LCYC to launch on that infamous ramp.  What could go wrong, right?  I always worry when it comes to Doug.  He has one of a kind experiences … often!  But, he’s also just so dang lucky.  

I get a call on Saturday afternoon and he tells me how the sailing is going, who he’s run into, who says 'hi,' and all about the weather, the competition and the lake level.  No news is good news, right?  That would be wrong. 

Sunday, I was up a ladder most of the day taping and bedding and before I knew it, the day was gone and Doug should have called already to say he’s won the regatta and is on his way home … but he hadn’t called. 

So, I ring him up and he breaks the news that he didn’t win.  He finished 4th. The combined ages of the top 3 sailors were still more than 17 years younger than Doug which he sees as a good sign for the class, as well as for him being able to keep up.  

He tells me he’s been on the road for a couple of hours and proceeded to talk about all sorts of things for almost 15 minutes and then says something along the lines of, “listen I had a little surprise that I need to tell you about … you know how that ramp is really steep?”  My heart sank and I reluctantly asked, “What happened to the trailer?” and he says, “It wasn’t the trailer.” I cringed and continued, “What happened to the car?” He continued to stall “It wasn’t the car.” Phew! “The dolly?” “It wasn’t the dolly?”  Oh no!  “Your boat?”  He says, ”Well, I was really tired and had only made it halfway up the hill and someone came to help and the boat sort of slipped off the dolly, landed on the concrete and started slowly sliding down the ramp.”  Holy crap!

As I continued to drag information out of him, I learned that this happened on Saturday and bunches of people sprang into action to catch the boat and stopped it from sliding much more than 10 feet and he had already detoured to Austin on his way home to drop off the boat for Fred Schroth to fix.  Thankfully, Fred was at the regatta.  Doug wouldn’t even look at the bottom until after racing on Sunday and Fred was able to quickly assess the damage and give him a really reasonable quote for the repair.  I’ve seen Fred’s work.  It’s good.  It’s solid and he makes it even better than the original.  Everything was going to be okay.

Two and a half weeks later, the boat is repaired, back home, and the entire bottom polished out better than new.  Thank you Fred!  Yep.  Doug has unique experiences and he gets lucky. Just don't be standing next to him outside during a lightening storm.  He's going to be fine but will definitely have a tale to tell.

I told Doug that next time he wants a bottom job on his boat that he could simply ask instead of tossing the boat on the ramp and giving it a good shove.

Whoever that fella was that was looking to match the gelcoat on his Aussie Laser, give Fred a call.  It was perfect!

November 13, 2015

The New Laser Mark II Sail

Brett is the current Master World Champion, an event he has now won 11 times. He has worked with Olympic sailors from multiple countries and is the best coach I have ever met. Brett has written some of our most popular posts, including:
Brett has been assessing the new Laser Mark II sail in Sydney. Here are his comments.

This week, one of my guys tried the new sail for the first time. We had a range of wind conditions from 5 knots to 15 knots so it was a good test. My initial impressions are:
  • There is no leech flutter at all – so that will be an improvement.
  • The tapered battens conform to the natural sail shape better – so that will be an improvement.
  • There is less lower leech hooking – so that will produce less weather helm.
  • The mid to upper leech really stands upright, even with firm downhaul. This I feel will produce the biggest (potential) difference. Bigger/stronger guys can enjoy better/more consistent sail shape for longer up the wind range before depowering.
  • The use of downhaul now doesn’t need to be excessive as this is not an effective depowering device, like on the old cut sail.
  • The depowering will now be more reliant on vang and outhaul – more like the Radial sail.
  • You can produce a flat/depowered sail and still have nice consistent sail shape. ie no mismatch of shape.
  • There is not the amount of knuckling on the luff when some downhaul is pulled on. Seems the sail is cut with less luff round down low.
  • The top tapered batten produces rounder shape up the head which will be more power for lighter winds/bumpy water.
  • There is still some diagonal wrinkles from mast join to clew but not as bad/deep.
I’d like to see a top class sailor use the sail in over 15 knots to see how the leech responds. The old sail just stretched and with excessive downhaul did twist off the leech a little. I’m not sure that will or can happen with the new sail, hence the reliance of vang over downhaul.

So, I think the sail will be an improvement in most wind and chop conditions. Because of the very firm and upright leech, I’m not sure how it will go in 5 knots and bumpy water and then in 15 knots or more. There will be some re-learning I suspect of how to get the rig to be slightly more ‘elastic’ in bumpy water, i.e. more leech movements.
Given all that you have learned, do you plan to use the new sail at the next worlds?
I am convinced the sail will be better in light to medium breezes and flatter water. I'll wait to see a top sailor use it in a breeze to see how the leech opens up. I suspect it won't and therefore you have to rely on excessive vang like the Radial, but that is just a slight variation. So that only leaves light wind and bumpy water where I think the new sail will be a disadvantage.

I will use the new sail in Mexico as I think it will hold its shape up the wind range and therefore suit bigger guys like me.

An update from Brett:

We have just concluded the NSW States Titles over the weekend with around 50 Standard Rigs. Probably 10 were using the new cut sail. It seems to have a slight downwind advantage as well. Not necessarily in raw boatspeed but the firm leeches make getting the exact vang tension more forgiving and more accurate over a broader wind range.

The new sail does produce more weather helm and over-sheeting is more of a risk in the lighter winds. But to me, these slight variations are not enough of a disadvantage/risk to not use the new cut sail.

We don’t access to rolled sails in Australia so the choice of rolled vs. folded is made for us. It is early days but I suspect the break in period will not be as long or as critical as the original cut sail. Better and stronger cloth with better shape means the sail is fine straight out of the bag.

October 16, 2015

Foiling Lasers

By Peter Stephinson, the Foiling Laser Guy
Despite all the hype, foiling is currently the preserve of the elite as foiling boats are currently limited to high-end, custom multihulls or expensive, delicate, difficult to manage dinghies.

There is now one very practical option available today for all sailors to try. A retrofit, clip-on kit for Lasers from Glide Free Design. Compared with all other foiling craft, this is much cheaper and is now readily available. You don't even need to buy a new boat!

We have been quietly developing and releasing this product around the world and believe it has the potential to give all sailors a taste of what only the elite have experienced to date.

This is an amazing product and superb design. I'll be joining Peter before the Laser Worlds in Mexico and will be taking lots more videos with my hat cam... Doug

October 05, 2015

Kingston Laser Masters - The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected

The last part of this video is interesting because it might be the first time ever that a Kiwi has helped an Aussie win a Laser worlds!

September 22, 2015

ILCA - Legal Mumbo Jumbo

by Pam
I rarely read the Sailing Anarchy forum these days but when I do I always get a quick read on the some of the questions being asked by the class members (and non-members). Things usually begin with a little speculation, then a few people throw in a couple of facts, then the speculation continues on this mixture of speculation and facts. 

It's like reading one of those historic fiction novels where you can't tell where history leaves off and someone's imagination kicks in.  Finally, I get frustrated and head to the Internet to look everything up for myself just to satisfy my curiosity. 

One of the questions recently was about the ILCA.  What kind of entity is the ILCA?  Where is the main office?  I did a little research and couldn't find a definitive answer but it appears the ILCA (or their attorneys) may be misrepresenting the organization in some legal documents.  I always start by following the patents and other legal documents.  Presumably, they'll want to be sure to get this stuff right:


Radial Sail with Reinforced Luff Tube
US 8739721 - (US patent)  filed Dec. 9, 2010 and granted Jun. 3, 2014
WO 2012/076852  (PCT international application) filed Dec. 9, 2011 - will never grant
AU 2011340315 (PCT national application) - not a patent - it's still in examination
GB 2499751 (PCT national application) - not a patent - it's still in examination
US D664493 - (US design patent) filed Feb. 9, 2010 and granted Jul. 31, 2012


In 2011, the US patents were assigned to the ILCA (UK address).  

In 2013, when the UK patent application was filed, the UK database indicated the ILCA is "incorporated in the United Kingdom"

In June 2013, the Texas Comptroller lists the name of the ILCA as "Laser Class Association Inc" and indicates it is a Texas non-profit corporation with offices in Austin, TX.  The formation documents at the Texas Secretary of State list the management as Tracy Usher, Hugh Leicester, and Andy Roy with Eric Faust being the organizer and registered agent for the LCAI.  The Assumed Name (the d/b/a or doing business as) documents list the International Laser Class Association as the d/b/a for the Laser Class Association Inc.

As of Septemper 13, 2015, the UK Land Registry shows Jeff Martin as the current Lessee of 51B Church Street, Falmouth, UK TR11 3DS but the lease also indicates the lease termination date was January 31, 2013.  Companies House has always been the 'go to' place to find information about a UK company and yet the ILCA isn't listed. 

It has been suggested on Sailing Anarchy that the ILCA is an Isle of Man company which doesn't have records that can be looked up to verify anything.  It has also been suggested on Sailing Anarchy that it is a British unincorporated association which isn't required to register anywhere so it can't be verified.  

Why would Jeff Martin have the lease for the UK ILCA office in his own name unless the ILCA really is an unincorporated association, as I believe those types of entities can't hold title to property?  It is my understanding that under British law, the Isle of Man is not part of the UK.  So, given the legal documents in place that have declared the ILCA to be a UK company, I'm leaning toward believing that it is an unincorporated UK association. 

If that assumption is true, then how can the ILCA hold title to the US patents (if a UK unincorporated association has no such right to hold title to personal property which is what a patent is)?  And how could it ever hope to enforce its rights in the US patents (since it would have no right to do so)?  So, why wouldn't the ILCA want the Texas non-profit corporation to hold title to the patents instead of the UK entity? 

So, I'm left with more questions than answers. I'm going to have to stop visiting Sailing Anarchy.  It makes my head hurt.

September 17, 2015

Update on Kirby/LPE Litigation

by Pam

Karaya LASER TM Cancellation Proceeding (92/057,167)

10-Oct-14 Proceedings Terminated - contractual estoppel - the "Head Agreement" dated July 11, 1983 stated BKI "shall not at any time question or contest directly or indirectly the validity of the trademark ‘LASER’” and would not do any act “which would or is likely to invalidate the trademark ‘LASER’ in any country of the world . . . "
Velum LASER TM Cancellation Proceeding (92/057,217)

12-Oct-15 Plaintiff's Pretrail Disclosures
26-Nov-15 Plaintiff's 30-day Trail Period Ends
11-Dec-15 Defendant's Pretrial Disclosures
25-Jan-16 Defendant's 30-day Trial Period Ends
09-Feb-16 Plaintiff's 15-day Rebuttal Disclosures
10-Mar-16 Plaintiff's 15-day Rebuttal Period Ends

Kirby v. LP Lawsuit (3:13-cv-00297)
Parties: BKI - Bruce Kirby, Inc. (Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant)
BK - Bruce Kirby (Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant)
LPE - LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited (Defendant-Counterclaim Plaintiff)
QM - Quarter Moon, Incorporated (Defendant-Counterclaim Plaintiff)
ILCA - International Laser Class Association (Defendant)
GSL - Global Sailing Limited (Additional Counterclaim Defendant)
PSA - Performance Sailcraft Pty. Ltd. (Additional Counterclaim Defendant) - DISMISSED 11-20-14
KL - Kayara (Jersey) Limited (Defendant) - DISMISSED 2-27-14 - lack of personal jurisdiction
VL - Velum Limited (Defendant) -
DISMISSED 2-27-14 - lack of personal jurisdiction
ISAF - International Sailing Federal Limited (Defendant) -
DISMISSED 2/27/14 - lack of personal jurisdiction
FR - Farzad Rastegar (Defendant) -
DISMISSED 2/27/14 - failure to state claim
174 Motion to Dismiss by ILCA
180 Motion for Summary Judgment by BK, BKI
183 Motion for Summary Judgment by ILCA
184 Motion for Summary Judgment by GSL
186 Motion for Summary Judgment by LPE, QM
18-Sep-15 2:00 PM Hearing on 174, 180, 183, 184, 186 motions

Update: 9-18-15 Minutes

September 06, 2015

Duct Tape - Is There Anything It Cannot Do?

By Doug
There are many ways that we use duct tape on a Laser boom.

Around the gooseneck prevents the cunningham from getting jammed... 

Around the vang key prevents it from falling out...

As a quick repair kit (saved my butt in a race at the 1991 Worlds in Greece)...

I've even seen people tape a banana to their boom.

But as I get older, there's one more use that I have just figured out. When the vang is really cranked in, I'm finding it harder and harder to get under the boom when I tack and my mainsheet sometimes gets caught behind me on my life jacket. In fact, tipping because of this cost me a first place at a local event last year.

So here's one more use - make this...

...and put it here...

But is this legal? I checked with the Laser Class Chief Measurer Jean-Luc Michon at the recent Kingston Worlds. He said yes, it's perfectly legal.
Awesome coach Rulo from Cabarete with Jean-Luc.
So, no more getting caught under the boom... and one less thing to worry about as I get older!

August 27, 2015

A Gold Medal Performance

By Doug
Bruce in Australia was reading some old posts and sent us comments and questions. These along with my comments (in italics) are reprinted with his permission:  

I've been reading a few of your older posts and was wondering if you could do an analysis of Lijia Xu's extraordinary medal race in the last Olympics? One thing that worked for her, that didn't work in the men's race, was the right side on the beats. In one of the aerial shots there are Lasers way in the background. We can assume that these were the men waiting to start their race. It is interesting that the right side did not work for the men.

She ducked the fleet soon after the start and went right. Was this because she was bailing out and struggling to hold her lane? Usually if you are quick, you stick close to the leaders and match them. For a medal race, she was really taking a risk I thought, but was she? I watched the video again and recall reading that her coach had told her to go right. If that was correct, the risk was not following her coach's instructions.

Her downwind penalty. This rule can be very subjective sometimes. What is your take on her penalty? Was she really breaking Rule 42 at the time? Did she change her style after the penalty? She was still fast! I could not see anything bad, but at 19:00 you could see the judge boat closing in. The announcers said that this was the first yellow flag they had seen so the fleet must have been clean. The call was really picky in my opinion. Thankfully, it did not affect the final results.

After her penalty, she makes ground incredibly quickly to regain the lead. How did she do that in such a competitive fleet? She was lighter than the other leaders, but she also seemed to have picked up some pressure by sailing between NED and GBR. Some call this the 'venturi effect.'

At 20:11, CHI is in the middle perhaps gaining from the 'venturi effect?'
She wanted to go around the right gate but did not have the inside, so she luffed hard and bore away to gain the lead and the mark position. That's not quite how I saw it. She was between NED and GBR about to round the left (or right) gate in second place. At 20:23 GBR tried to cut inside and took CHI's wind, and CHI would have slowed down. So CHI defended by luffing sharply and regained the lead. Great move.

What I find interesting is that the leaders chose the right gate to go left which did not work on the first beat.

When GBR tried to go inside CHI, GBR gave up getting room at the left gate. So why did CHI not simply head for that gate to round and then go right as planned? Luffing two boats, rounding the right gate, and then tacking seemed a lot riskier. And why did GBR give up the left gate?

Would that happen at the front of the fleet in a Masters Worlds? It's very competitive at the front of the fleet. I would not be surprised to see exactly the same moves.

She then gets ballsy and goes right again up the beat. Why didn't she cover? Great question. At 21:27 she tacks away.

Rather than stay with the leaders, CHI does a risky cross to go right on her own.
The factors at that moment:
     ● Cover her competition by continuing left, or
     ● Protect against the boats that were going to the favored right, or
     ● Follow her coach's instructions.

My guess this that she chose the latter, even though it was dangerous because she could easily have fouled NED by tacking. Even on the third beat while in the lead, CHI again chose to go right.

Anything else that for you is significant about her race and what she and her competitors may have been doing differently? Watching the race again, I was impressed by how smooth CHI looked going upwind. The others, especially NED, seemed to be wrestling with their boats.

This was an impressive race because there was a virtual 4-way tie for the gold medal in this medal race. Here's what we can all learn from this gold medal performance:
     ● Have a plan and if you're confident with your speed, stick to it.
     ● Be in shape. CHI did not seem to be breathing at all hard.
     ● Courses now have downwind finishes, so downwind speed rules.

Final comments from Bruce: One thing I had never considered when CHI gained so much so quickly after her penalty was the possibility of the venturi effect. Wow, if that was what it was, it was very powerful. Sure she was the lightweight of the fleet at 60kg but I couldn't imagine her weight making that much of a difference so quickly.

As you say, XU looked so smooth upwind and I also put that down to supreme fitness. She seems quite tallish too, so had great leverage from consistent and seemingly effortless straight leg hiking.

The race was super instructive in so many respects.
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