Monday, August 18, 2014

Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago today, 18 August 2010, this ad appeared on the Scuttlebutt Europe newsletter.
Global Sailing Limited
We are looking for enthusiastic and well established marine dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for the Bruce Kirby designed Olympic Sailing Dinghy.

This well established brand has already attracted over 200,000 devoted sailors globally and its long term future remains extremely positive. Over 4500 new boats were produced in 2009. Further details will be available after receipt of your expression of interest. 
Contact: +61 458 800 651
I remember seeing it at the time and thinking it rather strange. The ad obviously refers to the Laser but I had no idea who Global Sailing Limited was. The country code for the phone number is for Australia. Why would someone in Australia be looking for dealers to sell Lasers in Europe? There was already a well-established Laser builder in Europe, Laser Performance Europe (LPE). And why was Global Sailing being so coy about actually calling the boat a Laser? And what would LPE think about someone from the other side of the world trying to sell Lasers in their territory?

So I sent off an email to the mysterious Mr McCann…
Dear Kevin,
I am doing research for an article I am writing about the Laser sailboat and I came across your item in the Scuttlebutt Europe newsletter, which said that Global Sailing Limited is looking for dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for a boat which, judging from the description in the ad, can only be the Laser. 
I was wondering if you could give me some background on Global Sailing Limited, what business you are in today, who the principals are, whether you have any relationship with the current Laser manufacturers in any region, and how you acquired the rights to market Lasers in Europe. 
Look forward to hearing from you.
Never did get a reply.

Then in the spring of 2011 it all became clear. Bruce Kirby (the designer of the Laser) revealed that he had sold his design rights two and a half years previously to Global Sailing which is owned by the Spencer family of New Zealand and, by the way, the Spencers also own the Australian Laser builder. Then a dispute about the design rights and associated royalties arose between Global Sailing and LPE, the Laser class changed its rules so that LPE could carry on producing class legal Lasers, and Bruce Kirby ended up filing lawsuits against LPE and its owner and various sister companies and the Laser class and even ISAF.

I have no idea when this mess will all get sorted out. Apparently the lawyers for everyone involved are working away diligently (and billing all their clients I assume) and it's all supposed to go to trial some time later this year.

I think I'll go sailing. What else is there to do?


Pandabonium said...

"I think I'll go sailing. What else is there to do?"

Answer: nothing. What else is there, indeed? The answer is always the same. Go sailing.

my2fish said...

Buy a Sunfish. Then go sailing.

Tillerman said...

That's a bit extreme my2fish. This is just a contest between some crazy old millionaires from the US and New Zealand. A bit like the America's Cup only with more exciting boats.

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