Despite coming second in a comprehensive evaluation established by World Sailing, the governing body's top-level Council has retained the Laser dinghy as the equipment for the men and women's single-handed dinghy in the 2024 Olympics. Yesterday's (19th May 2019) World Sailing Council decision ignores the recommendation of the equipment committee and the evaluation panel to change the equipment to the RS Aero which had outscored the Laser 80% to 69% in the detailed evaluation and sea trials conducted in March 2019.
The evaluation panel, which included members from the Re-evaluation Working Party, the Equipment Committee, the Events Committee, the Emerging Nations Programme, the Medical Commission, Athletes Commission, World Sailing’s Technical and Offshore team and World Sailing Board members, assessed five boats in the areas of performance, athletic suitability, appeal, quality of production, standardization of the equipment, cost, distribution capacity, universality considerations and suitability.
The World Sailing Council were also aware of the recent removal of Laser Performance Europe (LPE) as a licensed builder. The dispute between the International Laser Class (ILCA) and LPE has resulted in a proposal to change the name of the boat to "ILCA Dinghy". ILCA says that the licensed builders in Australia and Japan will now supply the European market. The Australian Builder, Performance Sailcraft Australia (PSA), seems to have resolved its own difficulties with ILCA, who, in 2015, had issued a "defect notice" to PSA over an additional layer of chopped strand mat found in PSA boats.
The vote by Council in favour of the Laser/ILCA Dinghy may not be the end of the process. Council decisions have to be ratified by the member National Authorities (MNAs) at the AGM in November. And while the response by LPE to the ILCA withdrawal of their construction rights has, to date, been only through statements, a legal challenge cannot be ruled out.
The decision making process itself is under review by a Governance Commission which has recommended sweeping changes to the current World Sailing Structure, perceived to be outdated and biased towards the larger first world MNAs.
As Afloat reported earlier, other decisions by World Sailing Council included the ratification of the 470 as a mixed two person dinghy, a foregone conclusion as no other boat was offered as an alternative. On the Offshore side, a list of approved boats will be published in December 2020 from which the 2024 boat will be chosen no later than 31 December 2023.