In 1978 Performance Sailcraft, builders of the Laser, started to consider the development of a performance cruiser for the thousands and thousands of Laser owners who would not sail Lasers forever. As a first step, a design competition was held and four international caliber yacht designers asked for study concepts based on the following guidelines:
1. The boat should be absolutely One-Design in the Laser concept, that is, every boat would be identical and class rules would deter any changes or alterations to the boat, her equipment or sails. This would ensure that an owner of modest means would have equal chances of success to those of a more wealthy owner. In addition, the cost of maintaining a competitive boat would be kept within reach of all.
2. The boat should have outstanding performance characteristics. This would be essential to assure a long product life within the confines of a strict One Design discipline, where modification or improvement once in production would be unacceptable unless of a very minor nature. The design would not, therefore, attempt to follow the IOR or any other level rating rule, thus giving the designer a free hand to design a fast, stable and responsive yacht that would not become out-dated by the artificial influences of the rule makers.
3. The design should be for a quality product incorporating the best of modern design and technology without recourse to over complication.
4. The selling price of the yacht in a ready-to-race state must represent a "best buy" in the market place, in that the specification and equipment must be of unrivalled value by comparison to others, the intention being to produce a 28 foot yacht with a performance of a 35 foot yacht at the price of a 25 foot yacht. New Zealander Bruce Farr was chosen as the project designer, not only for his outstanding design ability but also for the considerable engineering and production experience he brought to the project. Over 500 of his trailer yachts have been produced in Australia and over 100 of his 38' fast cruisers have been built worldwide.
At the start of 1980 the project took a new tack. Ian Bruce, then President of Performance Sailcraft, took the project out of Performance Sailcraft and an independent entity was set up free of any commercial pressures to undertake the first step of the development. A partnership was formed between Ian Bruce's development company Bruce Yacht R&D Inc. (BYRD), Bruce Farr and a UK group headed by Tim Coventry, then President of the International Laser Class.
Those involved in the partnership were as follows:
Ian Bruce - Industrial designer - President and founder of Performance Sailcraft.
Bruce Farr - Yacht designer - Chosen as the project designer.
Tim Coventry - President of International Laser Class Owners' Association - Involved in Laser from outset. Project coordinator.
Norman Frost - Plastics engineer - Specialist in GRP structures and production systems.
Peter Hicks - Experienced off-shore yachtsman.
Piers Phipps - Financial advisor to project.
This team possessed a wide range of skills and talents: industrial design, yacht design, engineering, production systems, project management, marketing and finance. Bruce, Coventry, Farr and Hicks are all experienced and successful yachtsmen, holding between them many world and international titles in the sport of yacht racing.