A Laser by any other Name

In a move reminiscent of the Purple One’s name change to “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” Laser designer Bruce Kirby has rechristened his venerable Laser design as the “Kirby Torch.”

In a move reminiscent of the Purple One’s name change to “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” Laser designer Bruce Kirby has rechristened his venerable Laser design as the “Kirby Torch.” 

In addition to the name change, Kirby has also created an all-new sailing class, into which he’d like to someday integrate the existing International Laser Class Association (ILCA). To this end, Kirby has agreed that all existing class-legal Lasers will also be considered legal by the Torch class. Any future Lasers made without Kirby’s authorization will be considered “counterfeit.”

All this renaming and maneuvering constitutes the latest chapter in a long-running dispute that began when a number of builders stopped paying royalties for the right to manufacture the 1969 design in what Kirby says is a breach of contract. According to Kirby, the decision to create the new class was “not an easy one to make, but…the continued deterioration of the class and sailors’ best interests demanded action.”

Kirby says he already has a number of signed builder agreements for the Kirby Torch in place, and in late March, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) formally requested that the ILCA stop issuing the ISAF plaques used to certify the class-legal status of any new Laser. 

No word yet on the Olympic status of the boats, although at press time, all upcoming ISAF regattas were still going to be held using Lasers. Hopefully, Kirby and the other parties involved will get things sorted out before the dispute can affect the thousands of Laser sailors out there who just want to go racing. 



Cruising: La Soufrière Volcano Eruption

This past spring my family and I were at anchor aboard our 50ft steel-hulled cutter, Atea, off Bequia, a small island five miles south of St. Vincent in the Southern Antilles. Bequia’s large, protected bay is lined by a collection of beach bars, restaurants and hotels, and is a ...read more


Electric Multihulls

Witnessing the proliferation of Tesla automobiles you would have no doubt that the revolution in electromobility is well underway. Turn your gaze to the cruising world, though, and you might well wonder what went wrong. Where are all the electric boats? And as for electric ...read more


The Perfect Offshore Boat: Part 2

November, 2009: Mia and I were sailing our 1966 Allied Seabreeze yawl, Arcturus, on our first-ever offshore passage together, a short hop from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. Our second night out, the brisk northwesterly wind shut down, but the sea state ...read more


Tune in for Olympic Sailing

Today marks the start of 470 and NARCA 17 racing on Enoshima Bay, and racing in the other seven fleets is already underway. A few of the American sailors are already off to an impressive start, with Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble currently in second place in the 49er FX, Luke ...read more


Boat Review: Happy Cat Hurricane

I’m not sure what I expected from my daysail on the Happy Cat Hurricane. One thing I do know is that the day didn’t go as planned. The SAIL staff was invited by Alex Caslow from Redbeard Sailing to Gunpowder State Park on Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore. We were to test several ...read more


Olympic Sailing Guide

The Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Games is finally here. From July 24 to August 4, sailors from across the world will be gathering on six courses on Enoshima Bay to race for gold. Ten classes will take part in the event: RS:X (men), RS:X (women), Laser Full Rig, Laser Radial, ...read more


Chartering: Voltage is King

For some time now, both in the pages of this magazine and with individual charterers, I’ve talked about how important it is to pay close attention during a charter checkout. The idea is to listen “between the lines,” as it were, to be sure you aren’t missing any hidden red flags ...read more


ETNZ May Abandon New Zealand

Remember when the Kiwis were the young, underfunded upstarts of the America’s Cup world, with right on their side as they took on the Big Bad Americans? Remember the withering criticism leveled at Larry Ellison when, in the wake of “The Comeback” on San Francisco Bay, arguably ...read more