International Laser 2 Class Association
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Youth and Youth World Championships

A significant strand in the history of the Laser 2 class has been its involvement with youth sailing.

The class has had the biggest impact on youth sailing in North America where it was quickly adopted for a number of youth sailing programmes. This led to a lucky break in the class' first full year where it was used for the IYRU (later to become ISAF) World Youth Championships being sailed at Fort Worth in Texas. This was repeated in 1981 when the Youth Worlds were held in Portugal.

It was the financial muscle of Performance Sailcraft, who were keen to promote their new class that got the Laser 2 used in these events. However, it did not go down particularly well in the sailing world - both among the sailors who had little opportunity to practise in the boats and the international classes who felt their role was being superseded.

In the end it was not until 1990 that the IYRU Youth Committee officially recommended the Laser 2 as one of the double handed boats suitable for training programmes. This was followed by a deal set up in 1992 that the Laser 2 was selected as the exclusive dinghy class for the IYRU World Youth Championships for a period of 5 years.

This was a big coup for the class, bought about by the commitment of the builders and their willingness to invest in the promotion of the class (such a deal cost them a substantial amount of money).

However, even with this boost, the class struggled to usurp the 420 as the recognised double handed youth boat worldwide. It did in certain countries, like USA, Canada and New Zealand, but not in many others, like the UK, where the National Youth Coach was vociferous in his objection to the Laser 2.

Without significant progress in the Youth market, this deal was just not viable for the builders. When the Youth Worlds for the final year of the deal were held in Japan, an area where the Laser 2 has never really got off the ground, the 420 class took our place. Understandably, the builders did not even compete for the same rights for another 5 year term.

Without doubt this has had a significant effect on the class in some countries, particularly USA and New Zealand, but in many other countries, where adults made up the bulk of the Laser 2 sailors, it had little effect.

Adult competitors from Europe sailing in Laser 2 World Championships in North America are always staggered by the age of the fleet, which is totally different in Europe.

The same is obviously also true in reverse and was neatly summed up by a youth competitor in the 1999 Worlds in Canada who described the youngest member of the UK team (who was still nearly 20 years younger than other members of the UK team) as an "English geriatric"!