Bruce Kirby, best known as the designer of the Laser, now known as the ILCA, passed away 18 July 2021 at the age of 92 years.
Kirby’s sailing and designing career began with the International 14 class where he designed several versions, winning the world championships in 1958 and 1961.
He also represented Canada at the Olympic Games in 1956 and 1964, sailing Finns, and then in a Star in 1968.
Kirby has always said that the Laser was designed as a doodle while talking on the phone.
The Laser was the first of the single manufacturer one designs and has been a regular in the Olympic Games since the Atlanta 1996 Games. Joined in 2008 by the Radial rig version as women’s single person dinghy.
Launched in partnership with his compatriot Ian Bruce, who looked after the production side of the class, it was first shown at the New York Boat Show in January 1971 and sold 144 boats.
Total sales are now over 220,000 and under its new name of ILCA it was recently confirmed for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
On 2 February 2021 the The United States Court District of Connectcut found in favour of Bruce Kirby, Inc. and awarded him a total of US$4,577,314 in damages, in his long running actions for trademark infringement and misappropriation of his name.