Is change good for the Laser class??

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by Laser76489, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. Laser76489

    Laser76489 Member

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    How much change is good for the Laser class??

    Before the upgrades of 2001 (and now possibly carbon top sections as well) all lasers had approx. the same speed. One of the things that attacted people to the class was the idea that every boat was more or less equal. I have sailed in other classes where if you had the bucks to invest you could move your placing up by several positions. I always admired the laser because it was all about skill and not about better boat speed.

    The question I would like to see debated is "Are changes good for the class or bad??"

    I recently got back into active laser sailing and am amazed to find that I would be required to spend approx. $500.00 just to allow my vang ,outhaul and cunningham to be adjusted more easily. I can see how it is nice to be able to make these changes. They do make the boat more pleasant to sail. I am just amazed by how liberal the rules in the class have become and in my opinion have resulted in at least 100,000 boats being rendered obsolete by the stroke of a pen. Was this done in an attempt to make the class better and stronger or as a attempt to increase profits?

    FYI I will be getting the upgrades because I would like to able to adjust underway more easily. But were the changes made for the correct reasons?

    Let me know how you feel!
     
  2. rippa

    rippa Member

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    The class has to change to adapt to obvious faults in the construction or advances in technology. Lets bring new ideas forward and make it a democratic process in a very formalised environment (e.g. discuss for up to two years and then vote).
     
  3. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    I think some change is needed from time to time to keep a class current and to keep people interested. To be honest, I think the Laser class was so structured and rigid that it was turning sailors away. A "let them go sail another boat" attitude developed within the Laser class, which may have been partly responsible for the political turmoil of the last few years.

    In my opinion "one size fits all" does not make for a good class. Sailors are different shapes and different sizes, and they sail with many different techniques and styles. Class rules need to allow some adaptability for individual sailors.

    I view the new rigging as an example of change for the good. The old rigging system with all the silly rope tricks was a complete joke. The new system by itself is not "faster". It allows sailors a chance to customize controls that works for their particular circumstances. It does require some investment of money, but it also requires an investment of time. The net result is you can sail smarter, and yes sail faster.

    Going to carbon fiber spars I am not so sure about. The things that really effect how fast a boat is - hull, sails, spars, blades - should be strictly limited. This is where a class can turn into a high dollar gadget war. Money spent on cleats and line is cheap compared to what can be spent on major hardware like carbon fiber spars.
     
  4. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    The carbon spars are to allow lightweight women to sail the Radial in the Olympics. There will be the side effect, I imagine, of allowing sailors that are in the lighter weight range for the standard and 4.7 to not capsize in heavy weather too. It won't help those on the heavier side anyway, so eat hearty and save some money.

    Merrily
     
  5. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    This is exactly the problem with taking an existing class and turning it into an Olympic class - a laid-back class of weekend warriors becomes dominated by elite sailors fighting expensive gadget wars. Suprisingly the full-size Laser has weathered being an Olympic class rather well.

    This is why I did not like replacing the Europe dinghy with the Laser Radial. The Europe has been Olympic class for years, and everyone who gets into the class understand that. There are different spars for different weight ranges, multiple hull builders, multiple sailmakers, and all that fun stuff that goes along with being an Olympic class. I just hope we don't see something similar start to happen in Lasers.
     
  6. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    As I am about to enter the world of Laser sailing (and I hope a lot of competitive clashes too), I would hope that the 'powers that be' DO take their time and consider all the implications of the changes they propose. I would like to think that I can practise for a year and then enter competitions, without worrying that the guy in front of me has a real advantage over me, and none of it to do with skill.

    I think the point of a 2-year moratorium on any change would be a good idea. It would allow beginners a chance to get a feel for the sport ( talking racing here...) and allow more seasoned racers a chance to get it all together before the new changes come into effect...

    Ray
     
  7. rock steady

    rock steady New Member

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    The biggest problems with the Laser one design monopoly is cost and quality control. All out gear is about 20% more expensive than it should be as a result of no competition. Yet if it was a more developmental class things may be 100% more expensive (ie: carbon spars). So we need a balance.

    Yet one thing is for sure, more change will surely lead to higher cost. I can't see changes brought in to make things cheaper for us!
     
  8. odinsvitskjaldr

    odinsvitskjaldr Member

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    Anyone read the Vonnegut story "Harrison Bergeron"? It's about society "equalizing" people by placing artificial handicaps on people; such as, people with very good eyesight have to wear glasses that diminish their vision. At 5'6" 130lbs max, I'd like to see "handicaps" placed on you guys who are over 6' tall and more typically "American" built, like maybe drag-inducing anchors....LOL
     
  9. computeroman2

    computeroman2 Member

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    I think some of the changes are good, but some aren't really necessary. The sail controls obviously were a great upgrade. Some amount of upgrading is important in terms of rigging, as no change over the course of decades is decimating. I think i'm against the carbon fibre spar, even though i'd get a great advantage out of it. I have a '76 boat that I race regionally, and i'd rather just beat someone with skill than with a fancy new mast. I also can't afford to buy expensive upgrades like that, I think changing the class too much is going to ruin it. They shouldn't have to change the class for the olympic sailors, they should make the lighter radial women put on more weight. Anyway, being light on light-to-medium air days is an advantage for them, and giving them something to allow them to de-power even more is just giving even more of an unfair advantage.
     
  10. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I completely agree that there is a balance between keeping a boat "modern" and making so many changes to the class rules that people have to buy stuff continuously. I think the Laser has been successful at slowly evolving and hope it continues to do so to keep pace with how our sport changes (and the challenges are out there, look at all the kids sailing 29ers now!)

    I think that the rigging changes were a huge improvement to the boat. They have only slightly changed the game of Laser sailing (and I believe that the ISAF Rule 42 interpretations have changed it far more) yet have allowed more people to play the game (to use Fred-ology).

    The composite upper sections have been under development since 1999. They have gone through far more testing than any other class rule change I can think of (e.g. the rigging rules changes were voted in BEFORE there was a new vang, etc.). In the last year this testing has included tests by competitors at regattas in Australia, Europe and North America (see some other threads here in TLF). The reports I have seen indicate that the spar appears to do just what the class wants, open the competitive weight range of Radial sailors. In the tests so far, the spars do not appear to provide a magic bullet versus aluminum, just give enough more flexibility so that lighter sailors can hang upwind in the breeze.

    At this stage I'm confident that this is a good move for the class. The initial cost of the spar will be higher (see Ned Jones' article in The Laser Sailor for more details), but in the long run it won't need to be replaced (it won't develop a permanent bend and it doesn't have that rivet hole in it so it won't be so prone to failure, etc.) so the long term cost will be lower. Also, flex tests done by Vanguard indicate less variability in these spars than in the aluminum spars so this will actually make the boats MORE one-design, not less.

    Tracy
     
  11. vtgent49

    vtgent49 Member

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    Hi,

    Re: the original question "Is change good for the class"

    I'm glad Tracy chimed in on this, unfortunately the carbon top news is blurring the question that started this thread. BTW, I'm all for expanding the weight range, and stopping the broken tops/ ripped sails syndrome. I'm definately not into telling the girls "to gain more weight"? As the Dad/checkbook for a competitive 120 lb. female junior, this 300. US doesn't look bad at all.

    Tracy, why not move "the offending rivet" (as you described it), to below the joint? That's a perfect example of "planned obsolesense", a 70's business/engineering principle, later proved wrong by the US car industry's demise. But, I'm confusing the original topic again.

    The 2001 changes were thrashed out thouroughly, mainly before Bradley started this forum. The upgrades are less than 380. (in the US), less than a new sail (which will benefit a racer a lot more), so the relative cost of the total upgrade isn't too bad. The stuff is cool, very functional, maybe worth a place or two in a 30 boat fleet race, and somewhat redeemable at time of sale of the boat. I also believe that kids who grow up with real adjustability, will be better sailors when they move on to AC boats, or whatever.

    But during the "thrashing out" of this change, it was decided to allow partial/custom upgrades as well. Our club has many who have done the 100 buck upgrade, i.e. lots of blocks, but uses the original cleats. Apparently Scheidt raced to a Gold with a similar vang in Athens. Spending US$100.on a 20 year old boat, hardly fits the description of "making 100,000 boat obsolete? Having new ratios, thus control, of the vang, outhaul/c-ham makes even a beach boat much more controllable, safer, fun, etc.

    In reality, I believe (and don't really want to debate) that the Laser is the ONLY true One Design class. I have a J24, so please don't bother to describe that class as a "one design".

    So, we/the laser class should change, SLOWLY, and "grandfathering" everything. We should stay with the liscensee/"monopoly" concept. They are protecting us and promoting us. If you disagree, please be prepared to provide examples of another succesful class.

    I do have a 6 digit boat, upgrades, etc. And I have nice competitive '74's too. But, as my Daughter says "Dad, if I take the green boat, they'll pick me out as a marshmellow on the starting line!". So like I said, the new stuff is probably worth a few places, even before the start. It's a very complex game, which is why we all here, I presume.

    Al Russell 182797
     
  12. rippa

    rippa Member

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    May I dream?

    Oven cured carbon/epoxy hull - same weight. Indestuctible! Weight differences +- 100 gram. Mast rake no problemo.

    Carbon top and bottom section, one soft, one hard top section allowed.

    Overdimensioned modern sail cloth.

    The design philosophy of the early seventies applied today.

    Fit for the next thirty years.
     
  13. BLaser

    BLaser New Member

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    Where can I get one? :D
     
  14. pirouette

    pirouette Member

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    At age 56 and not really competitive in any regional regattas with a '76 boat and upgrades, I'll throw in my 2 cents.

    I know that a better sailor in my boat but retrofitted to the old controls will beat me hands down sailing a new boat with new sail and controls.

    2 equally skilled good sailors, the one with the newer controls will surely win over the other with the old controls. But, as Al pointed out, the upgrades are not prohibitive (in my opinion) to sailing and, as I pointed out, they will not necessarily make you competitive.

    Sailing is not a sport for the poor person. Running is. I participate in 2 other sports, cycling and cross country skiing; in the former you can go nuts with a bike and still be less or close to a new Laser, the latter much less so, but in all 3 it is still more about the skipper and less about the equipment that govern who wins.

    Having used the old controls, the new ones have made me more comfortable in the boat. I can't say they have made me a better sailor if I look at the results sheets, but at least I can change sail shape while underway and "think" I can improve how I am doing.

    As far as the carbon fiber mast question, it would depend on cost. I know there is a slight bend in my aluminum mast but I am too afraid to try to straighten in and screw it up so I insert it opposite the bend. I have suffered from the loss of a brand new sail when a top section broke in a stiff breeze and I was hiking hard. If a carbon fiber top section cost the same as or 10% more than an aluminum one AND lasted longer then I would be all for it - it would cost less in the long run.

    There was a piece in the most recent Laser Sailor about coaches on the course. I wrote the association to voice my opinion against coaches on the course and urge everyone to do the same. Keep this game more like tennis and less like football or basketball. Can you imagine what a race course would be like if half the fleet had coaches in their support boats and support gear?

    Thanks for listening
     
  15. macwas16

    macwas16 New Member

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    In the Summer 2005 issue of The Laser Sailor, Vanguard is quoted as saying, "The end result is a Carbon Section that is about 12% more flexible and about 50% higher breaking strength than the typical aluminum section."

    The article aslso goes on to say, "The Laser World Council placed a goal of no more than 2 times the price of an aluminum top section."

    The article finally said that carbon top sections would be on the market late fall 2005 or early winter and would be legal for the Radial class only.

    Looks to me like a done deal.
     
  16. computeroman2

    computeroman2 Member

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    I think a new top section would be great, as i have lots of trouble in heavy air (125 lbs. is great for light air, but not that helpful when it blows). However, i dont like how that would make it a money thing, e.g. whoever could afford it could be better. I had a thought- why not make the carbon mast section like an optional rig for certain regattas- like for example, they're allowed in the olympics and national regattas, and maby regional ones, but not most local ones, make it be up to the organisers. That way, all the local people won't be schooled by someone with lots of money, but the national and olympic competitors can still have their expensive rigs.

    kinda sketchy, but that's the best i can come up with. What do you all think?
     
  17. Murphs

    Murphs New Member

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    the only problem i see with that is with people buying new boats after the new section comes out.

    im guessing that if you bought a new laaser radial complete, it would come with the carbon top section, so you would have to pay extra to compete in local regattas which brings it back to money

    the carbon section isnt THAT much faster anyway
     

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