Free membership and a $200 annual check>>>

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by gouvernail, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    This is in response to the article in the Summer edition of The Laser Sailor.

    Please !! Let's try to keep this positive and perhaps limit this thread to just suggestions for positions political or of advocacy contributors might want our NA Class (and maybe the ILCA) to take with respect to parts, replica parts, and all that.

    So..First off let me make points for that which the article left me believing was Tracy's side of the discussion.

    When describing where the money goes and defending why Class Legal sails cost $400 more than Intensity sails Tracy left out the money that goes to the ISAF for the buttons and any royalty fees collected by the ILCA.
    He left me with the impression the entire $400 is being pocketed by the builders.
    That part of the $400 which is sent to ILCA and the ISAF is not being pocketed by the builders.


    Second part...Stuff left out of the why Class legal sails ought to be less expensive than anything any competitor could manufacture

    1. The sailmakers for class legal sails have a GUARANTEED and PREDICTABLE market. They can take the evidence for same to the bank and borrow money against the predicted and guaranteed production. They KNOW each and every year there will be 10,000 sails to be made. That guaranteed market allows for investment and planned production and planned staffing and all sorts of great things a fly by night wannabe replica sailmaker does not have.
    2. The fly by night replica maker MUST spend money to advertise and find purchasers for 100% of its sales. The class legal suppliers have thousands of guaranteed purchases before they even begin to need to do any marketing what so ever.
    3. The class willingly forces thousands of customers to purchase legal sails. The replica sailmaker is refused access to the majority of the market simply because its sails are not allowed to participate in most of the events were new sails matter the very most.


    I believe a good look at the books would reveal our class legal suppliers could ( except for the price of ISAF buttons and whatever royalty is paid to ILCA) sell Laser sails for LESS than any replica builder while taking in a larger percentage of funds above and beyond the cost of doing business.

    In fact, if that is not the case, I sure would love to know why the stockholders for our builders and sailmakers would tolerate such gross ineffeciency.

    Regardless of how the exact funding and expense trail shakes out, I sure don't see why the Laser Class members ought to silently tolerate being charged $400 more PER SAIL for a product that is nearly impossible to distinguish from that which is offered by the replica sail sellers.

    So, here I get myself into the fundamental philosophy part of my reasons for posting this message and starting this thread.

    I believe the ILCA should serve many roles. There is information all over the web about that which I believe and I am certain many are sick and tired of my constant ranting about "I DON"T LIKE WHERE THE CLASS IS HEADED!!!"


    BUT>>>

    The fact is, aside from the organizational aaspects of gathering information about Laser sailing and distributing it to those who might need it, and it's role as the organizing authority that keeps our sport as a clearly defined game...there is the "consumer advocacy union of members standing for our rights against those who would exploit us" part of the Laser Class Association which I find to be less than adequately performed by our current set of "representatives."

    As Vice President of the North American Laser Class and later when I served as both a Vice President and the paid position NA Executive Secretary, I used to call Vanguard's owner and President Chip Johnsr and say, "Now you know Chip , I want Vanguard to sell a ton of boats and make a ton of money so I can play with the owners of those boats and know there is a great solid company where my friends and I can go to buy more toys and even find warranty service.....BUT..."

    ..And following BUT would come my "you guys are not serving us fairly" gripe.

    When Vanguard came out with a set of soft sails, I , as a representative of the membership, would call Chip and do my best to encourage him to tighten his quality control. "I want to tell sailors to go buy your new sails but I cannot tell them to buy rags made of soft cloth that won't even set up right on day one."
    Chip kndw I sold a lot of boats for him and he listened. We both wanted teh same thing to happen. We wanted millions of people to want brand new lasers. we were untimately on teh same side. We wanted to be able to tell buyers of vanguard's toys, "Vanguiard has a great deal for you"

    When ther deal; was not there, I took it upon myself as a representative of teh membership to seek a solution."

    I ant our Clas officers to do a lot more consumer advocasy than I am aware is happening.
    Simply, I just didn't feel like Tracy's article was slanted far enough to the consumer side of the replica issue.

    I am positive Tracy knows exactly what he wants!!! I am pretty damned certain he knows what we need.

    I think Tracy has a lot of clout he could use for the consumer and I would love to see him confidelty wield it.

    Maybe others don't agree. I was tossed out for some reason and it certainly wasn't lack of organization or lack of class association growth.

    regardless>>>

    Were I in a "Laser Class Government " position today I would be telling the builders our position, "We can continue to advocate having builder supplied sails only as long as your prices reflect the help we give you in marketing your products. It is absurd that your sails cost us more than those for which we share NONE of the marketing chores. The class legal sails should cost us less than those made by suppliers for whom we do not guaranee a market. Excuses about your route from rolls of cloth to sails on boats can go only so far. There is simply no acceptable excuse for charging those of us who voluntarily agree to purchase only from you $400 more per sail than those who benefit financially from no such guarantees. It is extremely difficult to convince our membership the difference in price is anything other than greedy businesssmen taking advantage of a situation. Many Laser sailors feel the long term loyalty of the association membership is being used against us rather than being rewarded."

    As an officer of the association I would currently be asking for a lot of input and political sales efforts from the builders and sailmakers. Somebody neeeds to explain the reaoson for that additional $400 to the individual members. It is time for those who are taking $400 per sail from us to describe to us how that $400 is being well spent and how that spending of that $400 is benefitting us.

    If there are 10,000 new Class legal Laser sails being purchased every year, the difference between that which we are paying and Intensity's price those same 10,000 sails is FOUR MILLION DOLLARS..

    NO wait!! The difference could be more as Intensity would no longer need to purchase advertising in the NA Newsletter and on its website to make customers aware those sails are available. Intensity might furthere lower its prices as it enjoyed theper item savings related to building another 10,000 sails per year.

    Yes. I do believe our Laser Class Association officers should be doing a tad of asking questions about where that money is going and by doing so advocating for the membership they represent. .

    If there are $15,000 worldwide members and we could be saving $400 per sail that is $266 per member.

    It is a big deal.

    One solution:
    If the Class sanctioned sail price is to remain at $600

    I would be happy to accept free membership for all those who ask and and a $200 check each year for those who attend a minimum of one sanctioned Laser class event in exchange for ILCA support of required use of North or Hyde sails for all Laser sailboat contests.


    Assuming all 15,000 members sailed at least one event and sales remained stagnant at 10,000 sails. Our builders would have $400,000 to use to manage and distribute the funds.
    If membership numbers incresed sail sales would certainly increase at a greater rate.
    And if the $400 per sail sold fund was not sufficient we could renegotiate. As teh sailmakers and builders have been pocketing $4,000,000 per annum for many many years there should be no need to rush to adjust if they dip into their reserves for a few years.

    I believe that offer to our builders and sailmakers might be a great place to start.
     
  2. Eric

    Eric New Member

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    I hear you, Fred. Well said. I finished reading Tracy's article shaking my head, thinking "I'm not convinced." The chain of distribution might have made sense in the previous century, but times have changed. Particularly in the current recession, people such as Laser sailors are watching their expenditures more carefully than ever. Every industry is feeling the squeeze, and most are responding with lower prices just to keep enough sales to stay in business. Competition in the marketing of products is a good thing.

    Our dealers are squeezed also. The ones I know well stock and sell sails as a necessity, not because sails help their bottom line. We, as an International Class, need to do better. Perhaps it is time for our NA reps to step up and rock the boat. The current distribution chain is way too comfortable for the 21st century.

    Eric Robbins
     
  3. Mike Lindstrom

    Mike Lindstrom New Member

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    I'm not sure what, if anything, this accomplishes given the fact you can't even buy a new sail whether Hyde or North. I've been on the "waiting list" since before the Gulf Coast Championship and still no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Mike
     
  4. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Here is an example of the value of dealers:

    I spent last week in the Columbia River Gorge participating in the annual Gorge Clinic (an excellent clinic run by Steve Bourdow this year), the Gorge Blowout (see some pics here, the real video hopefully coming soon) and then the Masters' PCC's. At the end of day one of the clinic I broke my trusty bottom section (that I had been using for 9 years). I got back to the beach, pulled out the stump, walked up to the local dealer's on-site trailer and said "I need a bigger one of these." Moments later I walked back to my boat with a shiny new bottom section. I lost a total of 20 minutes of sailing time in the clinic.

    The Gorge Blowout was literally that, we were blown off the water at the halfway point. Plenty of damage. The local dealer was at the site on Friday with a complete tool kit and spent the day fixing broken stuff, from new rivets in masts to fixing the damage to a hull which came in too close contact with rocks. Lots of happy sailors by friday afternoon. That same dealer had two people on the race committee that weekend, helping to make sure that the races were run.

    Can you get that sort of extra service over the internet? Would I have been able to order a new spar over the internet on monday evening and go sailing tuesday morning?

    I will 100% agree that if Laser were starting today we might have a completely different distribution model with a different pricing (though I would still contend it could not match the replica parts people), etc., and we might be used to dealing with less in terms of extra service, etc. Of course, it might also be that we wouldn't have 200,000 Lasers worldwide either. Certainly we have yet to see a more modern single handed boat challenge the Laser - even given the perceived potential price differential.
     
  5. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    In reading the above, I have to say that its disappointing to hear that some people don't think the Laser Class advocates for its members when, in fact, a great deal of ILCA's effort goes to just that. In my opinion, advocating for the members doesn't mean waiting until there is a problem and then jumping up and down yelling, but instead it means working to identify sources of issues and rectifying them so that they won't happen to begin with. For example, over the past ten years the Technical and Measurement Committee and, in particular, the Technical Officer (employed by ILCA, answerable to ILCA, directed by ILCA, a Laser sailor, etc.), has worked hard to tighten specifications in the Laser Construction Manual, run regular inspections of the builders and sailmakers to not only insure compliance with the manual but also to look for areas where further improvements can be made, tolerances tightened, etc. Thanks to the hard work of a number of people, some paid, but most volunteers, I believe the average Laser built today is more similar around the world and of significantly better quality than the boats built a decade or more ago. The work is not done, there are still issues and there is a lengthy agenda for the TMC meeting with the builders before the WC meeting in September. The point is that the Laser Class does advocate for its membership (another very good reason to be a member) even if it's not being constantly trumpeted on anonymous internet forums.
     
  6. Mike Lindstrom

    Mike Lindstrom New Member

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    How does this change the fact that my local dealer in the 4th largest city in the country can't get me a new standard Laser sail? (and hasn't been able to for months)

    Mike
     
  7. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    I think that's a whole different subject, you might want to start a new topic on that. But I agree, LP is sucking when it comes to getting parts out currently.
     
  8. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    While not the same issue as what started this thread, obviously not decoupled. LP obviously has a pretty serious supply issue they are dealing with (we're told). Any statement past that would be pure speculation on my part as would, unfortunately, any prediction on resolution.

    However, this emphasizes that its the dealers who are getting screwed right now - on both ends. They're losing business to the copy manufacturers on the one side, while on the other they're losing business because they can't get product right at the peak of the sailing season. In my opinion, its the dealers we should worry about, not the builder. If the current builder were to vanish another would appear nearly instantly. Enthusiastic dealers out supporting local events are much more difficult to replace.

    Having said all of that, there ARE dealers in North America who have sails (and parts) so it is possible to get stuff. While I would normally advocate buying locally when possible, I'd offer that buying class legal is the next best thing.
     
  9. Mike Lindstrom

    Mike Lindstrom New Member

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    Fellas,

    Not to be argumentative, but Fred's thread is about the premium we pay for class legal SAILS. My comment was that we are paying a premium for something I apparently can't get. You would think that if there is $400 profit in the sail alone, the suppliers of that sail would make sure there were plenty to go around. Same goes for other class legal items; I'm sure the cost to manufacture and market are about one fifth the selling price. This environment is created by you and me, the Laser sailor.

    Mike Lindstrom
     
  10. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    Yes but remember the suppliers of the sails are not LP, it's North or Hyde. LP has to buy them from the sailmakers.
     
  11. Mike Lindstrom

    Mike Lindstrom New Member

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    I understand that but thanks for pointing it out. Would you care to wager on where the delivery issues stem? I'll bet it has nothing to do with Hyde or North being too booked up to make an adequate supply of Laser sails. My guess would be the ability of LP to pay their bills.

    Mike Lindstrom
     
  12. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Sails are not the only thing that was or is in short supply the past few months, blades were also hard to come by in North America. There were a number of dealers in this area who were delivered new "complete" boats from LP that were missing various items
     
  13. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    ding ding ding.
     
  14. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    Most likely.

    Yep I had some stuff on order and took forever to get and had to wait on parts on things that were supposedly complete. Makes you also wonder why they started chartering boats with spars and hull only, nothing else. Makes it even harder to go to events when you need to ship everything to the venue in order to sail.
     
  15. Mike Lindstrom

    Mike Lindstrom New Member

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    Our local dealer has had two or three boats for several months that he cannot sell because they are incomplete including blades and sails. He also has been billed for complete boats. I was told by sailors at the NAs that this was common all over the US.

    Mike
     
  16. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Gentlemen...
    MY gripe is the builders are marking up the sails by a lot.

    The dealers don't have a very big margin. The dealers don't make much selling sails.

    The reason there are so few dealers is the fact selling Lasers at the retail level is not a particularly lucrative business. The overhead is large and the markup is not very big and the volume is not all that big.

    The builders have taken that which was conceived as an affordable boat for Joe Everybody and slowly changed it into a rather expensive toy with absurdly expensive replacement parts.

    It would not irritate me if the builders marked up our parts 10% on the way past. it would not bother me if the builders announced a $50 tax on sails to be used to promote the game. I heclass in the budgeting process. .

    The fact is the builders are grabbing somewhere around $400 on each replacement sail.

    As an association of sailors I would like to see us look around and see who else would like to make sails "just like the ones we currently purchase from the builders" and if there is such a supplier, present the dealers with an ultimatum to either bring their prices down to an appropriate level or lose their exclusive rights to supply our game.

    Further if the builders pull a stunt like they did in 1993 where they change the size and shape of their dealer supplied sails in an attempt to make our sails obsolete ( as they did in 1993) we should simply ban the dealer supplied sails from the course.
    I mam not writing about teh change to 3.8 oz cloth. I am describing teh difference between North built 3.8 oz sails and Haarstick built 3.8 oz sails. The builders and North decided to make the 1993 North sails a couple square feet larger than the 1989 to 1992 Haarstick built sails. .)

    Now...More reasonably... Threats and boycotts are not the place to start. The place to begin is with discussion. The time and place is the world council meeting. The presentation is simple.
    IF AND ONLY IF THERE IS AN INTERESTED SUPPLIER>>>

    We ask the builders, would you like to supply sails to the sailors at a price more similar to "this sailmaker" or would you like us to put a rules change vote out to our membership which would allow the class to designate a second supplier other than the builder network?

    Currently we have no leverage. We have no real offer from elsewhere.

    It is past time to suggest to the builders, "It is quite possible your business model is destroying the game and the sales of Lasers the game would otherwise generate.

    Seriously, I am interested in the game. My bet is Walmart could sell the Laser for under $2000 and perhaps under $1000.

    Of course they would soon drop he Laser for lack of volume.
     
  17. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    There are - in practice, in the real world and already out on the water. Over the last few years I have moved around a bit and thus changed clubs as well and every club I have been a member of allows non-legal sails and many members use non class legal sails. Every mid-week/weekend race they are out there on the water. And they stand out very clearly; loads of them. And as I begin to think a might need a new ail next year, so everybody tells me to keep my existing one for "special events" and buy a "training sail" for normal club racing.

    In my experience, whatever members think or want to happen has already largely happened and the process is well underway and continuing fast.

    Ian
     
  18. Mike Lindstrom

    Mike Lindstrom New Member

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  19. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    There isn't much new in the original post, if you go back thru this forum and the old listserv, we sailors have been complaining about the "value" of the sail (cost vs how long it lasts) for many years.

    The following from Gouv is the only new idea I've come across in a long time.
    >>>We ask the builders, would you like to supply sails to the sailors at a price more similar to "this sailmaker" or would you like us to put a rules change vote out to our membership which would allow the class to designate a second supplier other than the builder network?<<<

    Interesting, but comes with it own additional complications, and I still believe if the builders see falling revenue from a change like that, they will just raise the price of new boats/other parts to make up for the lost revenue. Remember, they still have a monoply on most everything else..
     
  20. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    This disucssion makes me think the extra $400 per sail truly was keeping the builders afloat financially.
     

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