Intensity Sails

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by Rob B, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    Are there other classes around where the builders step up and supply new boats for events such as World Championships, High School and College champs, Olympic Trials (in the US) and then are able to turn around and sell them via their dealer network ?

    Sunfish and Opti's

    I'd much prefer to spend my time and energy on putting pressure on the class to improve the quality, durability and equality of the sail and spars within the existing framework.[/QUOTE]


    I have no problem paying sub $500.00 for a sail that will retain its competitive life for more than one year.
     
  2. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    J22 class sails are probably along the same as far as price per sq ft is concerned, but the COMPETITIVE life of the sails is MUCH longer. The jibs are usually replaced most often, but the mains and spins last an easy 2 seasons. Same for Flying Scots, JY 15's V15's, Sunfish, J24 and so on...
     
  3. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    Maybe I don't understand this correctly. Please correct me if this is wrong.

    When you buy a new car you buy it from a dealer who bought it from the manufacturer/builder.

    When you buy a new laser sail you buy from a dealer who buys it from/through Vanguard who procures them through North or Hyde.

    There's one more set of hands in the cookie jar.
     
  4. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    When you buy a new car, the Brand X manufacturer contracts out of house on some/many of the components.

    When you buy a new Laser, Vanguard does the same, in fact I think the only thing Vanguard actually builds itself is the hull.

    When you buy a "genuine Brand X" replacement part from the car dealer (ie the new sail), if the part was originally contracted out, the replacement was too - so the supply chain is identical as when it was new and it's the same number of hands in the cookie jar.
     
  5. abenn

    abenn New Member

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    Something that I think would help in this discussion is more factual information. There is a philosophical side to the "one-design" aspect that we can all discuss - ie should we change anything whatever the practicalities of it ? Thats why I think we have a very good system of voting on any proposed changes through ILCA.

    With this sail issue though, the main point seems to concern the price vs performance and in this case its an issue of improved performance (in terms of lifetime anyway) at a lower price - a very unusual situation. Its not really comparable to all those examples quoted of more money buying better performance in terms of carbon fibre spars, mylar sails etc. OK the principle is similar in that if we allow this sail, then whats to stop someone getting an even better more expensive sail made, but I don't think anyone who is advocating looking at the Intensity sails is suggesting that.

    Rather than go straight to a debate about whether a new type/make/manufacturer of sails should be allowed I'd like to use the example set by Intensity to investigate the current sail production. I know we won't get any commercial information but I think the licensed manufacturers should be willing to do this if they want to keep laser sailors happy.

    If Intensity can make a sail for US$200 at less than half the price of a North - why can they do this ?
    They don't pay the ILCA levy (even though they offered too) - so how much is the levy ?
    They use a different cloth. Is it a cheaper/more easily available cloth ? I hear that the Dacron used for official sails is only made specifically to make laser sails and is obsolete for anything else - hence its expensive. Its also lost favour through being difficult to make though pollution problems - another reason for manufacturing moving off shore.
    Its interesting that Intensity can make the sail in the US for less than the supposedly cheaper Sri Lankan manufacturers.

    Is the sail essentially the same design - ie would it pass all measurement criteria ?
    Or is there some manufacturing shortcut being made ?

    What are the markups charged by the "middle men". We all expect businesses to charge reasonable markups but what is reasonable ? I can get the Intensity sail delivered direct to Australia for A$330 vs A$900 for an official sail from the dealer - something doesn't sound reasonable in that to me.

    If we don't get any real answers (backed up by numbers and not just reasons) as to why we have to pay so much for the official sail, then this debate will go on and people will vote with their wallets.
     
  6. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    The Intensity sail is "Made in China". At least mine was.

    The price difference between it and the North/Hyde solutions is too great to ignore.
     
  7. iped

    iped New Member

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    Here in new Zealand A class legal sail is $1200 and with shipping via air mail the intensity sail comes out at $375 ,so the advantage is clear when we sail in A non perfect environment. Now last year I purchased A new laser , with A new sail , now with A new sail from intensity I cannot tell the diffrance between the two sail types.
     
  8. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    I think that non-class legal practice sails probably help the class more than they hurt because it helps get the guys who are just starting out or have that old boat that wasn't being sailed for awhile and/or don't have the funding to commit to laser sailing just yet (and it certainly encourages some to take the next step and upgrade to a class legal sail in the future). But I also think that it is important that there is a committed builder who is staying in business (how many US Laser builders have gone bankrupt in the past?).

    BUT, that also shows a flaw in the current system. There are just 2397 class members in the US (as of August 2006) and how many boats kicking around? Does anyone even know how many have been sold in the US overall (tens of thousands maybe?)? The class doesn't benefit too much (directly) from most of those old boats that are out there, even most of the ones that are still being sailed.

    Maybe cheaper class legal sails might bring more people into the fold since that can be the biggest barrier to getting into Laser sailing -- you can buy a beater boat for under $1000 and that boat can last you another 10 years or more but a new sail costs half that and in the best of cases is probably a blown out rag in two to three years or so.

    I'm curious as to how many new sails are sold each year (anyone know that can tell us?), certainly I've heard that some of the top guys are going through a new sail every couple regattas or so but there must be loads of people at the bottom of the pyramid that buy one sail every couple years or even less often. So what's a good guess? 5000 a year? 10000? Wouldn't it be better for everyone involved for more people to buy more sails more often?

    Maybe it would be worthwhile for the class to do some market research to find out if there is a price point that would get more people buying more sails. Personally, I'd find it easier to buy two sails at $300 in a year than one sail at $500. If you could double or triple (or more) the number of new sails purchased could you keep the cost per sail down but increase the profit to all concerned?

    Here's an idea, what if there were some way to buy class legal sails at a greatly reduced price for class members-only while non-members pay the full retail price? At this point, even if it was only $50 less would make a difference to me. Having a big discount in price for members over non-members could be a powerful incentive to join up and could dramatically increase membership.

    Just a thought. . .

    -Steve
     
  9. iped

    iped New Member

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    I fell that anybody that races top level is doing so and know the costs,thus they are paying for them selfs.Also anybody that is raceing at A club level that has not the inclination (nothing wrong with enjoying your self) to compete in A bigger pool are cost conscious. So what is wrong with letting the system that is now in place continue
     
  10. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    Maybe, nothing's wrong but I think that less than 2400 US members in a class that has thousands of boats out there suggests there may be room for some improvement. I don't think anyone is too worried about the sailors at the top level -- they are already committed to the class and probably wouldn't be scared off if the class could build the membership. But those guys are the top of the pyramid, what I was getting at is that the purchase of a new sail might be a significant barrier to increasing the numbers at the base of that pyramid. Maybe, if there was a way to reduce that barrier by reducing the price of sails as a perk of being a class member we could increase the number of class members while increasing the number of Laser sailors while supporting our dealer-supplier-builder network. . . A tall order I know but it might be worth thinking about.
     
  11. computeroman2

    computeroman2 Member

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    I completely agree with Sorosz. In fact, he's describing my current situation. Both the cost of new sails and the cost of travelling to national level regattas are hindering my performance as well as my learning curve.

    420 class sails are 1.5 times larger and heavier than laser sails, and yet they only cost $200 more than a laser sail. That doesn't make economical sense!!!

    Practice sails would be nice for heavy-air practice days. Having a blown out sail makes a difference even then. I could save my class sail for regattas.

    The real issue, though, is the expense of the class sails. They're just too expensive for what they are, plain and simple.
     
  12. HECS

    HECS New Member

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    Here in Australia, we tend to turn our boats over faster than in other countries (judging from the sail numbers at championships). I think you lose about $1000 selling a year-old boat. Because you'd pay almost that much for a sail, it's the logical way to go.

    This means we get a continual stream of new boats being built (keeping the manufacturer and agents happy) and year-old boats being sold (keeping up a good supply of boats to club level sailors and allowing them to sell their nice older boats to those further down the chain). It seems to work well.

    I'm involved in one class where the manufacturer sells the sails (mid-way between Radial and big rig in size) in better cloth for half the price of a Laser sail. These things are mylar and really last; I still use a 1992 sail (lightly used) for interclub races. The payback is that the manufacturer doesn't make enough from the class to make it worth his while to promote it, and that's one reason the class has gone from being much bigger than the Laser, to much smaller than the Laser.

    Another class is a "normal" one design, with open sail suppliers. The hulls are light but last beautifully - so few people buy new boats and the manufacturer has had to bring out a competing product to keep his staff in employment. So now the class is facing an updated, improved product in the same market from the same builder. That's capitalism, it's also very, very bad for the original class.

    This builder's new boat is going to have manufacturer-supplied sails. That means that even when the new boat sales start to slow down, the manufacturer will earn a profit out of the class and therefore he won't have to go out and start a third class to keep the production line running to keep the people he employs in food and mortgage payments.

    So the Laser way of running seems to be worthwhile. And really, the way most of us treat our sails (letting them flog before the start, while rigging etc) is shocking, and very few people sail to the limit of their boat's potential anyway. A beaten up 50000 series (90000 boats older than the next oldest) with a 2 year old sail was in the top 6 in the 56 boat fleet in our Masters states, beating two of the current world champs and knocking off last year's world champ in half the races. The boat was held back by poor upwind technique, not by its speed.
     
  13. Steve_Landeau

    Steve_Landeau New Member

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    Hi, all.
    Just getting back into the class after doing other things for 20 years (should be interesting on my first time back out, lol).
    Since the class has a class association, aren't we in control of the class? If this is an issue that the class really does not like, we should be able to vote for a change.
    Steve Landeau
    Laser USA 9999
     
  14. hoipolloi

    hoipolloi Member

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    I like the tone of this thread!

    How about we all just withhold our class dues:eek: until the ILCA-NA turfs the North-Hyde juggernaught and finds a vendor who can provide a durable product at a reasonable (ie non-ripoff) price?
     
  15. OliLaser

    OliLaser Guest

    If You stuggle with an ethics prospective, llok at it this way. North sails made in Sri Lanka employ children! They sri lanken sails are made by people who's who family put together couldn't even afford to buy a laser! I'm all for geting laser sails from someplace other than North or Hyde. All other clases have more than 2 sailmakers which you can buy sails off. Hell even optis have more than 2 different sailmakers.
     
  16. GTChris

    GTChris New Member

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    Although I'm all for a different (ie cheaper) source, your ethical argument makes very little sense. Are you saying you would like to put those Sri Lankans out of work? However little they make now, they wouldn't be taking the job if it wasn't their best option. Who are we to say they shouldn't have that oppurtunity? The sweatshop argument holds very little water when you compare the alternatives. What kind of favor are you doing the Sri Lankans by trying to take away the best jobs they can find?

    In fact one could argue that by NOT buying North Sails, you are helping to starve Sri Lankan children. I wouldn't make that argument of course, but perhaps you see my point.

    Chris
     
  17. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    I'm calling BS. We have had this discussion before and it's obvious you are clueless as far as the workers at North Sails in Sri Lanka, their working conditons and their wages.

    :mad:
     
  18. Steve_Landeau

    Steve_Landeau New Member

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    It doesn't matter what the wages are, who's making them or where. These sails are computer cut and sewn, right? It doesn't cost more than $50 to produce this sail. Not even aviation has that kind of markup (ok.... some of aviation does, but I'm sure you get the point).
     
  19. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    It wouldn't matter who makes the sail as far as what we pay for it, since the sailmaker is not the one who sets the retail price.

    This thread may give you a little more insight
    http://www.laserforum.org/showthread.php?t=1214

    There are other threads that cover the number of fingers in the pie and why it makes sense for the long term health of the class - Use the search feature.
     
  20. OliLaser

    OliLaser Guest

     

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