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

  1. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    IF LP are not making a stupid margin on sails (and lots of other parts) can someone please xplain to me how they are suddently able to offer almost 50% idscount when you do a bulk order of 3 or more sails?

    I have also heard of a LP sales rep stating that they can match or beat the price of any replica out there on the market.....

    My 2p (I am un the UK) is that for far too long they have held the prices high. Now that replica parts (especially sails) have become a huge issue they are seeing their sales volumes plummet of 'consumable' items that in the past has been 'a nice little earner'.

    Had they taken the longer term view of 'OK we accept the sail is sh*t and does not realistically last more than a season or 2' and dropped the price to something sensible then a lot more people would still be buying class legal (myself included) and they would be shifting more in terms of volume (economies of scale on production et al) and probably making a similar amount of overall profit (just a smaller margin per item).

    Like many others I know of I use a replica or training sail for my local racing. I do have a genuine sail which I use when I travel to open events or regattas and I do try to ensure my boat is 100% legal at all times (sail excepted).

    RE the supply issues. There is a lad at my club who is desperate for a new boat, he has been waiting for 4-5 months and has finally got a delivery date. He resorted to buying another boat whilst he was waiting which he is now selling because it took so long. I can only speculate on the reasons for this but I would imagine it is going to be a cashflow related issue at LP. It will be intersting to see what foils his boat comes with....
     
  2. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    I use an Intensity replica sail for all local club racing and practice and keep 2 class sails for open club events and anything else. The funny thing is the newer class sail, (w/only one regatta on it) is worse than the older class sail w/multiple regattas on it. Quality control at it's best!

    The Intensity sail is like a Timex. It takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. With the class sails being nearly $ 600.00 US I simply can't afford to dump that much on disposable sails regardless of how it benefits the class....
     
  3. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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  4. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    This is my point....the majority of people who sail boats at club level are voting with their wallets by:

    1) Not joining the class association

    2) Not buying genuine parts

    I can agree with both however I would say buying any other replica part other than a sail is stupid.

    The other replica parts that are available could in no way be considered consumable items unlike a sail.

    Just my 2p (or 2c)...
     
  5. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Do I infer that LP hasn't paid North and Hyde?

    If so, that doesn't look too promising for the future of the class...
    :eek:
     
  6. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    Looks like an opportunity for a "Black market" for new class sails. Better yet, just let us buy directly from North like other class associations can such as the Finn, Melges, J22's, I could go on.....................
     
  7. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    black sails would get so hot in the sun
     
  8. Trippin

    Trippin New Member

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    "Black Sails" Are they made from carbon fiber? Now that's worth $600.00
     
  9. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    With respect to the Standard sail, here is how I see things:

    1) The Laser philosophy is that its meant to be a strict one design where all aspects of the boat are tightly controlled making the racing purely a test of sailor skill. This is achieved by limiting the number of builders and sailmakers and constraining them to produce boats and sails in strict compliance with a construction manual. For the sailmakers this means specifying the cloth used, how the panels are cut from the bolts of cloth, how the pieces are put together, etc. In particular, there is not meant to be any room for "tweaking" the design by the supplier of the sails.

    2) If we want to have the ability to go to "any" sailmaker for a Laser sail then either
    a) we require all sailmakers to strictly conform to the construction manual, -or-
    b) we draft sail measurement rules which sailmakers must adhere to when making sails which will give them a certain amount of freedom in how they satisfy the rules (like, for example, in the Star Class).

    3) I see two problems with 2(a) above. First, its a compliance nightmare and the Technical Officer could easily spend all of his time running around to inspect sailmakers all over the planet who might be making sails. Secondly, as the number of sailmakers increases the economy of scale decreases, meaning the production cost and, ultimately, retail cost rise. IMHO, I just don't see this as workable and I think the potential for benefit would quickly be overrun by the reality of implementation.

    4) If we go with 2(b) then I think we forfeit one of the basic tenets of the Laser philosophy and, personally, I'm just not ready to part with the strict one design principle simply to save a few hundred dollars - especially when, in my opinion, a good fraction of that extra money is coming back to indirectly benefit me (a separate discussion). And remember, currently the replica manufacturers have a vested interest in producing sails with NO difference in performance to the current sails since then they're "just like real Laser sails". But when you change to a sail "measures in" system then sailmakers have a vested interest in producing a faster sail, ESPECIALLY in a market as big as Laser, since it means more business.

    5) If the price of the Laser sail is the single driving issue in all of Laserdom, then a potential solution is to convince the builders to allow the sailors to buy direct from the sailmakers. However, there is a big downside here as well - the loss of income to the builders and dealers (see earlier post where it is estimated in the millions of dollars US) will need to be made up somewhere and most likely it will be in higher prices for boats and parts, loss of support for Laser sailing events, sailing in general, etc. I think before going this route one needs to see a real cost benefit analysis so everyone fully understands the implications. Even in the modern internet era there is simply no free lunch.

    6) Finally, I just don't think the replica manufacturers are the true model to try to follow because I believe they are benefiting from the system while not actually supporting it - meaning their price is artificially low (sort of like the price of ethanol is artificially low because of federal corn subsidies). Of course, I also agree that the corollary is true: if left to themselves the builders have little interest in deviating from the status-quo and by inertia will simply continue try to maintain the current system.

    Given the picture I outlined above, where does that really leave me personally? I would like to see a standard sail solution which:
    a) preserves the fundamental philosophy of Laser sailing, which I see as ~2 sailmakers making sails in strict compliance with the Laser Construction Manual, regularly inspected, etc., so that our sails are as identical as possible,
    b) preserves, at least here in North America, the dealer network so that we can have local people with a vested interest in promoting Laser sailing giving us the ability to buy sails locally, buy boats which cost the same in California as Rhode Island, promote our local sailing events, etc.,
    c) continues to enable the builder to support Laser sailing at the regional and international levels through things like support to the class, providing charter boats to major events, supporting sailing programs, promotion, etc.,
    d) does not lead to an increase in the pricing of the boat and its parts,
    e) yet still addresses the core problems with the standard sail, in particular produces a sail that people think is worth the money they are spending on it.

    As we all know, a program aimed more or less at the above is in progress, though even I think it has entered a phase where time is measured in geologic scales... (enter here a page full of highly frustrated smilies). Its worth adding in this thread that this program is mainly driven by the Laser class and Laser sailors and is not some backroom builder take-it-or-leave-it program.
     
  10. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Don't know if anyone read the front page of Sailing Anarchy today (7/28/2010), but a rather timely post on sails in the Finn Class today. Its interesting since the Finn Class is probably one of the most comparable classes to the Laser - both are singlehanded, both in the Olympics, both sailed worldwide, both with strong masters participation, etc. I'll cut and paste the article here:

    Quantum Sails in San Diego is one of those special lofts that is always challenging itself. I have had the privilege of being able to get to know the guys and work with them on coming up with a new design for, and then building a Finn sail. Over a few meetings with Mark Reynolds and George Szabo we came up with the idea of seeing what it would take to break into the Finn class with a new sail. The loft has been successful in the other heavy weight men's Olympic class, the Star, and we are planning the same approach with the Finn.

    We looked around the loft and found a Mylar pattern from one of Marks previous designs, back when they used Aluminum masts and Dacron sails. Since this obviously would not do, George got stuck into designing a new Finn main with the computer, essentially from scratch, over the next few weeks. With much kibitzing between Mark, George, Eric and I we finally got a shape that we were happy with. The next step was to stick the design into the plotter and get it to cut out a test sail in paper (this way you are not wasting expensive sail cloth if there is something wrong with the design that could not be seen in the computer model of the sail). With a few minor tweaks and tunes to the paper sails we were happy that the sizing and shape was spot on within the Finn class rules. Once this step was completed we were able to plot out and assemble the sail out of the chosen sail material. In this case it was 1.5 mm Mylar with Kevlar skrim. I brought down my boat from Long Beach and rigged her up for a test sail out in front of SDYC the Wednesday before the start of the Finn North Americans.

    After the first test sail George and I both noticed that the sail was very very powerful…my 6’7” 220 lbs frame was fully hiking in 6-8kts, conditions in which I would normally still be sitting in the boat searching for power. The one complaint I had straight away was that the leach hooked to weather a bit more than usual. After a bit of discussion we were happy to see that with the extra strength in the cloth weight we were able to wail on the Cunningham twisted the top off beautifully and flattened the sail. Armed with this successful test I headed off to the North American Champs in WINDY San Francisco. 8 races in 18-25kts on the Berkeley Circle was a hell of a test of fire for our new sail… After 3 days of 20+ kts I felt like I got mugged by a pack of angry badgers, but the sail preformed much better than I did. It was a glammer off the line, I was able to leave the Cunningham off and maintain height, then as soon as I was in a position to go bow down I would wail as hard as I could on the Cunningham and crush over the top of the boats to leeward with a comfortable groove to drive in that is a mile and a half wide.

    I am very pleased with the work every one at Quantum San Diego has done. What we have come up with is a sail that is fast easy to shift gears, easy to drive, as well as one that will last longer than other Finn sails since we are using the 1.5mm cloth. Now if only I was as fit as Ed Wright and could gybe a Finn in 25kts without my sphincter clamping shut tighter than Fort Knox during a safe crackers convention, would be a start in the right direction. - Phil Toth

    Does this process result in less cost? Well... for example, go to the North Sails website where you can pick and choose between seven different designs for their standard Finn sails. Click on "order sail" to check prices.

    Wow.

    And what does it say about "one design" when it sounds like a lot of your time is spent developing something to make you faster, as opposed to going out on the water to become a better sailor?
     
  11. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I sure hope Tracy read the 23rd post...


    going on....


    Reading the same story I must wonder..

    What if we asked those talented guys to design a Laser sail with as equal an out of the box first day performance to our current North and Hyde rags as possible while trying to improve durability, pay all the royalties, supply battens and numbers and offer the product to our dealers for under $300.

    Then we could present their proposed alternative sail at the next World Council Meeting to be voted upon as to become one of the minimum two suppliers for our game.

    If the sails were built in San Diego our Technical officer could visit and inspect the loft without having to fly to Sri Lanka., and those of us who object to using toys made by people who are paid less than a decent living American level wage could feel lots better about buying new sails.
     
  12. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    I think that in the UK this has already happened - except there are no sail specs, just imported "copies" of unknown accuracy using different cloths, different brand names, etc. but all with no control, no measurement. so for club sailors (in the UK) a set of sail specs and measurement regime would be a step closer to a one design (given that most clubs allow the "training sails" and their use is now very widespread). Were there not such an issue with the class legal sails (price/longevity) then the "training sail" suppliers would never have had a market created for them and the clubs would never have accepted these imitations because there would have been no justification for them

    I agree with you about the benefits of a strict one design but in the UK that has already been lost at club level.

    I suspect the underlying problem might relate to the different objectives of the class/owners and the builder. The builders aim is to maximise profit whilst the class/owners want a successful strict one design (part of which which means reasonable prices). RTalking ludicrous extremes, if the builder could make $10bn each year by selling few ludicrously overpriced boat vs $1bn making loads of sensibly priced boats they would take the $10bn and screw the existing ownership.

    From the outside (I am not fully aware of the relationship between owner, class and builder) it appears that the builder has all the control. If the class has control it does not seem to use it. Maybe it feels timid because it receives money from the builder or maybe it really can do nothing or maybe I have the wrong impression.

    Certainly the builder/class have managed to build a very successful class to this point. But the individuals making the decisions now are not the same as those in earlier times and so the same abilities are not necessarily there. In addition these days it is not acceptable for a company to make a decent profit but profits have to keep getting bigger and bigger and that can change the decisions those in control have to make. Following recent changes of ownership and what from rumours might indicate a few financial problems in the supply chain and the different people making the decisions with different pressures, can we rely on what was a successful strategy continuing through all the changes that have (and always will) happen. The impact of some decisions on the pricing has already had a dramatic impact on the class "strict one-design" in the UK as many clubs no longer have class racing.

    Ian
     
  13. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    This has already happened with the current suppliers, many (at least eight that I am aware of) different models where built for eval/testing and the most promising (The full rig radial design I believe) have had long term testing. These sails would certainly increase (at least double) the competitive life span of the sail, for less then $30 of additional cost IMHO, There has been plenty of testing of these sails, the only thing that needs to be done is to make the decision. This could have been done over a year ago, but the foot dragging continues on. The reason why is black and white (or green or whatever color currency is these days) I'm sure we have reached a point now where "no decision can/will be made until after the 2012 games" - just another excuse IMHO
     
  14. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    Given that we are currently half way through an Olympic cycle it is VERY unlikely that we will se a new sail this side of the 2012 games. If the class has any clue as to what is going on they should have it ready for a vote (even had the vote done) and bring it in as soon after the next Olympics as possible.

    I believe the changes to the controls were held over until after an Olypmpics but I could be wrong.

    I also believe that the ISAF has to approve any changes as the Laser is an Olympic class.

    Last but not least... Let us not forget that the new sail has to be designed in such a way that it does not isntantly obsolete every other sail that is out there an in use.

    Not an easy job by any means....
     
  15. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Not everyone agrees with that point of view. The builder/dealers who are holding inventory would, but any sailor who only has an older rag (I guess we can say anything more then 4 regattas old) it shouldn't matter one bit

    In a way, that thinking just keeps us stuck in the 1970's
     
  16. 663

    663 Member

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    From my perspective, I'd like to see a sail made with decent cloth for our $600. It's not the $600, but the fact that after a day in breeze, it's toast. That's what I have an issue with.

    The margin is clearly there to use better cloth. The 3.2oz sails lasted longer than the current sails, as did the original 3.8 sails. If none of the decision makers will stop dragging their feet on a new design, just keep the current design and make Hyde and North go back to the better cloth.

    If you think the price of a Finn sail is expensive on the open market, look at the price of Opti sails. Sub $100 for practice sails (not a bad sails). Then look at Opti racing sails @$550 for less than 1/2 the cloth of a laser sail. Virtually all sailmakers are at the same price point.
     
  17. TonyB

    TonyB Member

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    I agree that the current sail is over priced and too short lived, but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as many of you are saying.

    Of course a more durable sail for much the same price is a great idea, but there will always be (a lot) of sailors who expect their sails to be bullet proof and wil complain if their ten season old sail isn't as fast as a new one - the Laser class seems to have more than it's fair share of these sailors.

    I do a lot of sailing. I tend to buy one new sail for the biggest regatta I'm sailing each year, and most people I sail with do the same. This is then my regatta sail for the next twelve months. Then it becomes my club racing sail for a season. By this time it will have done over 100 races, and is still good enough for another year as a training sail. It probably costs about $2-$3 for each time I go sailing, which is hardly excessive.

    The top level olympic aspirants go through a lot more sails, but the cost of this is insignificant compared to the overall cost of their campaigns. Other sailors who think they need to buy a sail more often than every 12-18 months are kidding themselves. The sailors who sail a couple of times a month at their local club and rarely travel anywhere should be getting three or four years life from a sail easily.

    Of course if the builders dropped the price of a sail I would be happy. But if the builders are making such huge profits from the sails, why are they allegedly having trouble paying their bills? It has to be one or the other.
     
  18. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]And cannot be readily distinguished in many cases.
    [/FONT]

    Back to the sails

    [FONT=&quot]Personally I see the replica parts issue as the start of the collapse of the class. I can understand people using replica sails for training and to a lesser degree club racing. But it's only a matter of time before a district turns around and permits them at their district regattas and eventually there will be pressure to do away with official sails. At the same time other replica parts are infiltrating the fleet. It's only a matter of time then that someone designs something "better" than the official components for the class. [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The strength of the class, which has protected and developed the class, maintaining the value of second hand boats etc has been the Fundamental Rule and restricted sources of hulls and components and this is being undermined by the replica parts. The class is going down a slippery slope IMO. Whilst the class may initially benefit from the replica parts (principally the sails), it's weakening what has made the class so strong and reduces the separation between Laser and other class few of which could be considered strong (how many classes at your club that gets a fleet 50% or bigger of the size of the laser fleet?). I'm not saying the class is going to die in the next 5 years, but unless the ILCA and builders do something, the laser fleet is likely to be a fraction of its current size in 20 years time.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The issues I see which are all related
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]


    • [FONT=&quot]The ILCA and builders need to address both the durability and cost, principally of the sails and to a lesser extent other components. While I don't mind the current price, the product we're getting doesn't match the cost. A sail that losing it's optimum performance after 20 hours of sailing isn't worth the $A950 ($US850) we're paying.
      [/FONT]

    • [FONT=&quot]Reducing number or at least getting smarter about the changes in the class rules and introduction of new equipment, bringing the class back towards the simple low cost one design principle .
      [/FONT]

    • [FONT=&quot]The current elitism with its coaching clinics, supports boats etc, has created a situation where there is now a significant gap between the "ordinary club sailor" and those wanting to go to World Championships / Olympics etc which needs to be addressed. Why I see this as being important is because it's the "ordinary club sailors who are the back bone of the class, but they no longer see the benefit of being a class member or sailing with legal equipment because they aren't interested in attending regattas anymore where they sail around the back of the fleet and don't have support boats telling them how to sail whilst handing over their on water diet. Spending 3+ hours on the water when you need to carry everything on your boat is too long and some regattas I've done it's been 11 hours on the water. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] I hope that Tracy really pushes at least the first of these concerns at the next World Council meeting. [/FONT]
     
  19. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    One more time because most of you don't seem to get the simplicity of my proposal...

    or that I am totally against opening up sail supply to anybody who measures...

    and in NO WAY did I suggest any of the absurd changes to the fundamental one design so many ofyou seem hell bent on adding to the discussion.

    The process is simple.

    THE CLASS can decide to certify an additional sailmaker as a supplier of sails for our game. There is a process for doing that.


    Therefore...I propose we as a class association certify a sailmaker for providing sails for our game to make sails JUST LIKE those sails we have been purchasing from the builders.

    Then the folks who have been adding $400 to the price of each sail as it passes through their hands can decide whether to compete for their market share or drop out of the sail selling business.

    If you are concerned about local dealers......I don't think you can do much...You could make the proposal such that the certified sails must be sold by a dealer who lives within some number of miles of the purchaser...of course we have no such rule now for any of the sellers who advertise on this site or in the NA Laser Sailor magazine and I doubt it could be enforced...

    Anyway... The ISAF, Olympic Commitees and etc have no voodoo style control over the Laser Class and its rules. If we choose to allow and certify a sailmaler whose sails would be other than BUILDER SUPPLIED..that would simply become the new Laser class game.

    The world championships and Olympics will always be contested in supplied toys so ISAF and the Olympic Committee would not have a dog in the fight.

    The way I see it, there is no special effort or expense the clas members or our officers would encounter to make such a proposal.

    The call goes like this:

    "Hello mr sailmaker. I represent the North American Laser Class. Our executive commitee has appointed me to find a sailmaker who is capable of supplying sails for our game. We are interested in certifying a suplier who would supply sails directly to dealers and mail order supliers without first selling their product to the builders. Our goal is to keep our one design game as pure as possible so the sails you supply would have to be as equal as possible to those currently being supplied by the Builders. Are you interested in discussing this??"

    and so forth...

    The winning sailmaker would be the one who not only wants the job but who would be willing to supply the manpower and funds necessatry to work through the approval process.

    I will go a step further...Why not make "sailmaker liason" a position on the NA Class executive commitee??

    Summary:

    no different sails
    one non builder supplier
    tight controls
    and MOST IMPORTANT!!!! The builders would no longer be allowed to change their sails without the advance approval of the Class and it's approved sailmaker.

    I buy and sail laser because they are the most fun for the buck.

    I do not buy and sail lasers to enrich some guy who has figured out he can charge whatever the hell he pleases
     
  20. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    OK, here's a thinker.

    It seems there are two markets for Laser sailors. There are Olympic campaigners and elite sailors who travel to major regattas. They go through many sails a season and already have a large sailing budget to pay for travel. They obviously use class legal sails and are able to pay the premium price.

    On the other hand, you have many club level sailor. They sail at their local lake, and maybe travel to a couple of out-of-town regattas per year. The might buy a new sail every other season. The cost of a class-legal sail is a significant portion of their sailing budget, so the low-cost knock-off sails become attractive.

    I don't know the number of sails sold and am speculating at this point, but I'm guessing the elite sailors are the bulk of the market for class legal sails. They provide a large market for $600 short-life sails, giving the builder little incentive to offer a more durable alternative at a better price.

    This leads me to wonder - if the Laser class were not an Olympic class, would the sail situation have evolved to its current state?
     

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