Back in 1969, BRUCE came up with the concept for the Laser, and following a phone call with fellow Canadian Bruce KIRBY, during which KIRBY sketched the initial design, the simple, low-cost but high-performance dinghy was born. The Laser is now sailed by thousands of sailors in well over 100 countries worldwide. It offers a physical and tactical challenge, is quick to rig and easy to transport, which combined with the class's strict one-design rules, have made it popular with sailors at all levels. The boat has featured as Olympic equipment since 1996 Atlanta Games and at Beijing 2008 and now London 2012 will be used in both Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy events.
Paul HENDERSON (CAN), ISAF President from 1994-2004, paid tribute to Bruce's achievement, calling it a, "Great honour for Ian and his beloved sport of sailing."
HENDERSON added, "It is gratifying to see an entrepreneurial businessmen being accepted. Ian was the person who, 30 years ago, came up with the concept of the Laser class which is the most popular sailing craft ever conceived with now over 160,000 built and sailed in well over 150 countries in the world. The price of a Laser is less than that of a good bicycle."
Following on from the original concept and design from BRUCE and KIRBY, the production of the Laser began in 1971 and the Laser was launched to the general public at the 1971 New York Boat Show. Its popularity around the world grew rapidly and the boat became an International Class recognized by ISAF in 1974.
The class was selected in 1992 as an open single-handed dinghy event for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where the sailing took place in Savannah. The Laser has been selected as equipment for every Olympic Sailing Competition since, and will be used as equipment for the Men's One Person Dinghy event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Laser Radial, which uses the same hull but has a smaller sail area and a more flexible and slightly shorter lower mast, made its Olympic debut as equipment for the Women's One Person Dinghy event the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and will also be used at London 2012.
BRUCE is also the designer of the Byte dinghy, and the subsequent Byte CII, which was last year selected as equipment for next year's Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. He also twice represented Canada at the Olympic Games in the Finn (1960) and Star (1972).
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavour. It is Canada's highest civilian honour for lifetime achievement.