April 27, 2013

Oman Quiz

By Doug
Take a look at this picture from the Oman Worlds Website and comment on all of the reasons why this was not rigged by a Laser/Torch sailor (hint: I see six):

April 26, 2013

Kirby/Torch Sponsorship/Support

by Pam
Let's try a gear change. After all I've reached an age where I'm going through that female change of life roller coaster and one minute I swing wildly to the left, then back right until eventually Doug brings me back to the center before I death roll.  He does an amazing job of bobbing and weaving and the Canadian in him provides balance. Every woman should be so lucky!

That intro is just in case you thought I was a little heavy handed with my opinions or perhaps, a little nutso. Hello? I am.

So, in back channel e-mails with several sailors, Ari Barshi of the Cabarete Laser Training Center threw out and idea that I thought was a great and also a bit of a solution to the helpless feeling that I've heard so many express.  After all, not one of us can help Bruce with his legal battles but we can certainly let him know we care.  Ari suggested printing BKI or Torch logo stickers to put on our sails.  It would go in the same location where sponsorship/advertising logos are allowed.  Then Steve Cockerill at Rooster Sailing said he could make the stickers.  I have a vision of folks taking pictures of all their regattas with all the boats with the stickers and sending Bruce the pictures to let him know we care and we realize we are sailing a Kirby design regardless of all the stuff going on.  It's not much but if I were him, it would make a difference for me.  Does this idea have any appeal?

Oh, and the squeaky wheel does get the grease.  Doug has had some conversations with those in the know and we've been enlightened.  Is the ILCA evil?  No.  The people we wanted to trust and believe in, we can.  And the people we thought were the problem, are.   Good people inherited some bad decisions with a lot of momentum.  

April 24, 2013

ILCA Defamation of Bruce Kirby

by Pam

Let’s make this real simple.  The ISAF just approved the ILCA’s “Fundamental Rule Change” in which many feel they mislead the members into a rushed vote that many would have changed had the facts been presented accurately.  This is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!

Let’s just focus on one statement that the ILCA stated as a “fact” and that has been repeated erroneously, and often, the most recent occurrence being yesterday by Sailing Anarchy. 

ILCA Fundamental Rule Change:  “a builder also needs a building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby, Inc.  This provision is mostly historical.  The rule was instituted at a time when Bruce Kirby held certain design rights. ...The lawyers also informed us that the Kirby design patents had in fact expired.

Sailing Anarchy:  Any ‘design patent’ he [Bruce Kirby] may have had on the actual boat design has long since expired

Now, step into the shoes of that attorney (law firm) to whom the ILCA allegedly paid $60,000+ dollars of our membership money and see if you come to the same conclusion when glancing at just one diagram from each of the only two patents Bruce Kirby has anywhere in the world.  

I know a two year old might struggle a bit but even a freaking five year old wouldn’t make this mistake.  I have to wonder if the attorney committed malpractice (and this would be a pretty damn basic mistake) or if the ILCA spun the truth and deliberately mislead the members.  Technically, Kirby’s design patents had in fact expired … for a freaking toy ... and some design with a jib!  See for yourself:


Kirby Design Patent Number D373,156 - Expired Aug. 27, 2010


Kirby Design Patent Number D304,922 - Expired Dec. 5, 2003


Civil Jury Instructions from the State of Connecticut regarding DEFAMATION:

A defamatory statement is a false communication that tends to harm the reputation of another; to diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill or confidence in which the plaintiff is held; to deter third persons from associating or dealing with (him/her); or to excite adverse, derogatory, or unpleasant feelings or opinions against (him/her).

To establish a case of defamation, the plaintiff must prove the following:
1.      the defendant published a defamatory statement to a third person;
2.      the defamatory statement identified the plaintiff to a third person; and
3.      the plaintiff's reputation suffered injury as a result of the statement.

Since the ILCA is real big on letting the courts decide … maybe Bruce should file another suit and do just that.  I can't see how it's not a slam dunk of a win.  Oh, and if I understand it correctly, the right to bring suit even passes to his heirs.  No putting that genie back in the bottle.

Correction:  Bruce Kirby has three design patents in the world instead of two.  The third  is CA61775, the Canadian version of the second diagram above. NOT A LASER. 

Bruce Kirby Reaches Out

Bruce sent this to us today and asked us to send it to anyone who we felt might be interested ...

by Bruce Kirby


In an attempt to rescue the Laser Class from its downhill course of the past few years I have reluctantly decided that a name change, or re-branding is necessary.  During the past three or four years dealers have had difficulty getting timely delivery of boats, and in particular, of parts.  We have had calls and e-mails from various parts of the world asking if there is anything that can be done to save the Laser.  To give some idea how critical the situation with Lasers has become  (as of mid-April, 2013) there is a boat shop in Toronto which has 52 American- built Lasers that have been brought in for repairs of various kinds.
Laser Performance in both Europe and North America own the name LASER and the sunburst symbol on the sail, but they don’t own the boat.  Because I am owed quite a bit of money by these firms in unpaid design royalties it has been possible for me to terminate their building rights at both factories.

What the Laser sailing public must try to get their heads around is that it is not the name of the boat that matters, It is the boat itself - that 13’ 10” bit of fiberglass and aluminum that provides us with untold pleasure.  I love the name Laser.  I was there in the beginning when then builder Ian Bruce came up with it.  I have lived with it and revered it for more than 40 years…but I know that if the boat is to be saved it must have a new name.

Laser Performance were terminated as builders last year, but the lawsuit was filed this year because production of the Laser unlawfully continued after termination.  The International Laser Class Association  (ILCA) in lock step with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) participated in this unlawful manufacture by refusing to stop issuing Laser Performance the stick-on ISAF plaques that are attached to the inside of the aft face of the cockpit, identifying the boat as an authorized Kirby Sailboat permitted to be used in Laser class and ISAF sanctioned events. 

I have tried to work with ILCA and ISAF on rebranding the boat, but they refused and demanded instead that I get a Court Order.  So they are named in the lawsuit.  After filing of the lawsuit, ISAF initially asked ILCA to stop issuing ISAF plaques to Laser Performance, but I don’t yet know if ILCA complied.  In a new twist, ISAF and ILCA now seem prepared to issue a new version of the plaque to Laser Performance which removes my name from my own design.  This is not only against the Laser Construction Manual which ISAF and ILCA claim to hold Builders to, thereby insuring a true one-design class, but also reveals their true strategy to steal my design. The irony in all of this is that by continuing to provide plaques to Laser Performance against my wishes and our contracts, both ISAF and ILCA continue to collect money from Laser Performance for every boat made even while I am not being paid the design royalty.

In any event, all builders of the Laser have been terminated and the Kirby Sailboat will only be lawfully built under the Kirby Torch brand.  This does not violate any prior agreement I have with ISAF and ILCA since they explicitly only relate to manufacture of the Kirby Sailboat under the Laser brand. ILCA and ISAF have trumped up a “breach” in order to push through the “Fundamental Rule” change designed to excuse nonpayment of my royalty by Laser Performance.  Their actions make their intentions clear:  Steal the Kirby Sailboat from its designer.

New builders with stellar sailing and boat building credentials have signed agreements to follow the Construction Manual so that new Kirby Torches will be exactly like old Lasers, and both boats will be able to compete side by side under the rules of the Kirby Torch class.  We have asked ILCA to set up the Kirby Torch class, but they continue to ignore us and the Torch even though there are no longer any licensed builder for the Laser.  Go figure?!

So if you agree that what we are doing is in the best interests of the boat, please urge ILCA and your district Laser class organizations to cooperate with us for the sake of sailors throughout the world.

This is your boat.  It’s my baby, but it’s your boat.  With a simple change of the name we can offer a better quality  product, consistent delivery and the steady supply of parts. The Kirby Torch Builders and Class Association will serve sailors—that is our promise to you and the reason I am taking on this fight. The fight is about pulling the boat out of the swamp it has been dragged into and handing it back to the sailors cleaned up and ready to move ahead for another 50 years.  I have been disappointed with the treatment handed to me by those who should be firmly on the side of the sailors, and so at the age of 84 I am throwing all my energy into meetings, phone calls and e-mails to save the little boat.

Please join me in this endeavor and support the Torch.  I can no longer race with you, but I can cheer you on.

Bruce Kirby
Rowayton, Ct. U.S.A.
April 24, 2013

April 23, 2013

LASER Trademark for Running Regattas

by Pam

By now everyone believes that Karaya (Jersey) Limited is the holding company that owns the LASER trademark in the US. After all they were even named in the recent Kirby lawsuit. Well, that would be only half right. Karaya holds the trademark in the class of goods that pertain to sailboats, parts, accessories and sails. A close look at that registration reveals that the title is all jacked up and the actual owner of the LASER trademark is a dissolved entity. Maybe that can be fixed and maybe it can't. I’ll post the details of that jacked up registration later.

For now, did you know that Velum Limited, an Antigua and Barbuda entity with an address is Switzerland also owns the LASER trademark in the US (not to mention the UK)? In the US, Velum holds the trademark in the class of services that pertain to “organizing sporting events, namely, sailing competitions, and regattas; sailing schools.” In the UK, Velum holds the trademark for both the goods and services mentioned above. 

Now I ask you, who organizes and runs LASER regattas? How many times have you personally organized and run a LASER regatta? How many times has Velum or LP done that for you? For what purpose do you suppose LP would be interested in obtaining the exclusive rights to the business of running every freaking LASER regatta in the US and UK?  

Now here’s the kicker.  To obtain a trademark you have to provide proof of your use of the mark "in commerce" in connection with the "services" you are providing. Below are the “specimens” that Velum submitted as proof of their use in the US:




But wait, there's more ...

The “Statement of Use” indicates that: "… VELUM LIMITED, … is using or is using through a related company or licensee the mark in commerce on or in connection with the goods and/or services."

The “Declaration” on the Statement of Use affirms the following:

"Applicant is the owner of the mark sought to be registered, and is using the mark in commerce on or in connection with the goods/services identified above, as evidenced by the attached specimen(s) showing the mark as used in commerce.

The undersigned being hereby warned that willful false statements and the like are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, and that such willful false statements and the like may jeopardize the validity of this document, declares that he/she is properly authorized to execute this document on behalf of the Owner; and all statements made of his/her own knowledge are true and that all statements made on information and belief are believed to be true."

I’ll let you decide what conclusion to draw. My favorite part is "punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both."  If only we could be so lucky. 

April 20, 2013

Join Kirby Torch Class Now!

by Pam

You can now join Bruce Kirby's new Torch class association:

He isn't asking for money.  Membership just involves providing your name, email address, sail number, rig type and district and takes less than 30 seconds to sign up.  This will allow Bruce to reach out to the Torch/Laser sailors and keep them up to date on what is happening.  

So far, of the players in this ILCA/LP/Kirby triangle, every statement Bruce has made has proven to be true and everything he said he would do, he eventually did.  The same cannot be said for the other two players.  Although I support and believe in several officers of the ILCA, I do not see their wisdom or integrity in the actions of the ILCA.  I fear that the efforts of those I trust have somehow been suppressed by something odd going on within the ILCA.  

If you support Bruce in his efforts to support the needs of the sailors, communicate with them  and ultimately, keep his design sailing, please send an email of support to sail@kirbytorch.com.  He cares what you think!

At ImproperCourse, we support Bruce Kirby and wish him success.  We also encourage the ILCA to grow a pair and get off the fence.  The ISAF has already concluded that LP is no longer licensed to build the boat.  The ISAF is the ILCA's governing authority!  There is no need to wait for the outcome in court.  

A Royal Start

By Doug
This is one of the most unusual starts ever - something I have always wanted to try but Andy Roy beat me to it at the Master Midwinter's. Let's start with three questions about, say, a 10 knot breeze:
  1. Standing out in the open, how strong is the breeze?
  2. Standing behind a solid fence, how strong is the breeze?
  3. Standing in front of a solid fence, how strong is the breeze?

If you answered 10, very little, and 10, then there's some learning to do. The answers are 10, very little, and very little. A lot of people get the last one wrong because they don't understand how the wind goes around an object. I'm sure there are scientific explanations about how low pressure area avoids a higher pressure, but my simple way of describing this is that the wind "knows" what's up ahead.

So substitute the word "fence" with a "crowded starting line." The boats act like a fence (and are even called a picket fence) and some of the breeze goes over them. This is yet another reason why it really pays to get a good start where your bow punches out - you're literally sailing in more wind.

But there's more! Looking from above, the wind also "knows" that the fleet will bend the wind, so this bending starts in front of the fleet. 
The fleet is actually sailing on a slight knock which means that if you can, it often pays to tack twice if you want to continue going left in better air.

For the same reason, getting a bad start, having to tack to duck some boats is not as bad as it might seem because you're on a temporary lift and can get a little more speed before you round up.

Things get really interesting if there is a sag in the line, as we often see with starts under a black flag. A boat sailing on port in the sag will actually be sailing in more wind and on a lift when the gun goes!

I've often thought of trying this in a big fleet but never had the courage to try this. So in the second race at the Midwinter's, when Andy Roy was on port coming straight at me to windward of the fleet, I didn't say to myself, "What the hell is he doing?" I said, "Beautiful, wish I'd tried that!"

As it turned out, going left paid and Andy went the wrong way. But it was an absolutely awesome start!!

April 07, 2013

Fear and Respect

by Pam
When he was 3 he walked off the edge of a pier.  He didn’t know how to swim.  As he treaded water, the pier was six inches from his face but he was too paralyzed by fear to reach out or call for help.  A hand reached down and grabbed him and placed him on the pier.  To this day, it stands out as the most terrifying moment of his life.

At age 5 she entered kindergarten school where she was taught to swim.  Everyday they were in the pool in the deep end, unable to touch the bottom and learning to dog paddle, breast stroke, back stroke and swim underwater holding their breath.  They were all water babies.  All through elementary school, she and her family spent every summer at the pool.  Diving boards, deep ends, flips, cannon balls, Marco Polo, you name it.  The water was home in the summer.  Being suddenly launched into the water would not produce fear.  She never really learned to respect the water ... she simply didn't fear it.

When he was 6 he still could not swim and was playing in the water.  One minute he was standing in the water and the next he had stepped off a steep underwater ledge and was frantically treading water.  Again, he was too paralyzed with fear to call out even though there were people within 20 feet of him.  A man noticed and walked to the edge of the drop-off and reached out and pulled him back. 

At age 7 he was taught to swim at an indoor pool in the middle of winter and was told he was a natural.  At age 9 he was introduced to sailing and his first sail was with the Firefly North American champion who handed him the helm and observed that he was a natural.  At age 13 he was single-handing a Flying Junior with three sails up.  It is a moment that stands out in his mind as one of complete freedom, control and exhilaration.  He was hooked.

He already respected the water but in Australia he learned even more respect.  Rules of thumb on when to sail and when not to and when to sail with a buddy and when not to. 

When he was in his 30s, he lived in a stone house on the water in Canada.  As the seasons changed, he watched the mood of the wind and water change.  The wind came out of the east and the waves would crash against the house.  In the late fall, the waves would splash up and freeze on the balcony outside his living room.  Out on the balcony it was treacherous and a slip could mean certain death but 10 feet away was the living room and a warm fire.  The startling contrast taught him even more respect.

Her first sail was in her 30s as crew on a 30 foot keel boat.  Sitting on the bow she felt at peace and at home.  The first several times she was handed the helm she was not a natural.  It was too much boat to handle.  The first time she broached she was on a 30 foot keel boat and was hanging from the shrouds and lifelines submerged to the waist.  There was no panic.  Just the question of whether let go and swim clear or hang on.  Her introduction to sailing was with a combination of good and bad skippers.  She didn’t fear the water but the loose nut at the tiller was always a concern, whether herself or another.  The concept of respect was starting to sink in.

In his 40s he had water front property in Dallas.  When the day ended and his duties as father and husband were winding down for the evening, it was his time.  He kept his Laser fully rigged and flipped on its side in the back yard and a mad dash would have him on the water and sailing in two minutes.  The boat, water and wind were his mistresses and he snuck away to see them as often as he could.  They met 4 or 5 times a week and when they were together it was hard to know where one left off and the other began.  Although, he had running lights to keep from being run over by motor boat traffic, many nights he couldn’t see his own hand in front of his face but he came to know the moods of his mistresses and easily adjusted.  The four were one.  He was home.

Years later, he stands beside her on the docks on a particularly windy day.  The waves are pounding the docks and breaking over the walkway where they stand.  He looks out and the water beckons to him.  She looks out and is filled with intimidation and takes a step back.  They rig one boat, her fear subsides, and together they go sailing. 

April 05, 2013

What Goes Around ...

by Pam

By now, everyone probably knows that Laser Performance stopped paying royalties to Bruce Kirby a few years back which then set off a chain reaction that has affected and pissed off many a Laser sailor. My own version of frustration was some research on Farzad Rastegar and Laser Performance which skipped through a few different tax haven countries and landed in the British Virgin Islands.

Now, this week, we have this news:

'Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain's offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world ...  

The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens ... 

As well as Britons hiding wealth offshore, an extraordinary array of government officials and rich families across the world are identified, from Canada, the US, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, China, Thailand and former communist states.'

Full story:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/apr/03/offshore-secrets-offshore-tax-haven

Hmmm ... now, this just got interesting!

Oh, and Scott Young, my man, you were just one "t" away from being on that list.  Whew!   Had to put that in just in case you actually do retire from Laser sailing and disappear from the Laser scene and people start to talk.

April 01, 2013

Fred’s 30th Annual Easter Laser Regatta

By Pam/Doug

For 30 years now, Fred Schroth has personally sponsored the annual Easter Laser Regatta.  It’s always the kick off event for Laser District 15 and it’s always the best attended district event all year.  The Texas weather cooperates every year with a nice variety of unpredictability.  A little wind (or sometimes a lot), a nice sunny weekend (or maybe a little fog, rain or sleet), and a nice full lake (or not).  The NOR is posted years in advance, the date is always locked in and just about everyone goes home with a stuffed bunny trophy which kids (and dogs) always appreciate.

Being blissfully content and exhausted from my new job, I opted for a sideline position this weekend.  It would appear that either I suck at cheerleading or Doug, being the oldest sailor on the course, is beginning to act his age.  They say that as you get older, the brain gets full and some of the earlier things that you learned, you begin to forget.  We’re going to have to start back to basics with Doug on knot tying because the knot in his mainsheet came undone and unthreaded in, not one, but two races.  Then, he was called with Fred’s UHS penalty (unfair head start) and found himself so far back he was actually sailing with folks in the Dallas fleet (sorry … couldn’t resist a little smack talk … see Tillerman’s Rule #5).  Despite everything, Doug salvaged a 4th overall, being almost 10 years older than the 1st place competitor and over 45 years older the the 5th place competitor.  

Here's Doug with some on the water interviews from the top 3 boats as well as Fred himself, in all his glory. 

This first video is from Ravi who finished third. He describes an interesting way to connect the dots when sailing in a light, patchy breeze:

This is Chris who finished second. Here, he talks about his starts:

This is Scott, who won the event. Here he describes several things like his starts and how to manage wind direction and pressure on Lake Travis. The wind was picking up so the sound with my iPhone got crappy, but there's some really good advice from this multiple Master NA winner:

I'm excited to note that the last part of this video has me going faster than Scott ... the only time all weekend. 

But perhaps the best part is the awards by Fred himself, who makes sure that everyone gets something. One year, a fellow broke his mast, so Fred (smack!) broke a candy bar and tossed it to him. Here's just a small part of Fred in action:

The Easter Regatta is a great event and a tribute to Fred who makes it well worth the trip. In this final video, Fred explains its origins:

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