Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by sorosz, Dec 17, 2009.
Can anyone say "Monopoly"?
I knew you could...
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, it seems too many Laser sailors "know the price of everything but the value of nothing."
To answer Powergroove's question, the boat holds its value because the Laser as a boat and a class is successful. People want to sail them. The model actually works - almost 200,000 boats worldwide is nothing to sneeze at. Part of the "cost" of that success is relatively higher prices on things that we "want" to be cheaper.
Laser sailors have gone around and around about just how expensive everything is probably as long as there have been Laser parts to gripe about and probably always will. It has often seemed to me that the underlying assumption is that because we're special (I know I am because my mom always told me I was. . .) Laser sailing shouldn't really cost us any money. I'll be first in line to vote for the first politician I think would actually deliver on getting Laser Sailors free gear but most of the time I try to reside in the real world.
Think about what the Laser really would be as a boat and as a class if we threw out all the class rules. Buy whatever you want, wherever you want and put it on your boat. How much fun would you have sailing against the guy who decides to trick out his Laser with carbon fiber spars and blades and laminate sails? How much would you like the expense of the boat then? I'm betting it would cost you a lot more than $40. Monopolies aren't always a bad thing, especially if you want something to be consistent everywhere over a long time period.
And $40 a year is an insignificant amount of money for the value returned and especially compared to the other alternatives. You really want to maximize your savings? Give up sailing entirely, go live naked in a cave and eat bark and berries. Everything beyond that is the result of choices. You choose to sail Lasers, you have to accept some compromises that go along with that.
The Laser model isn't perfect of course and there are things that could be done better but refusing to be part of the class doesn't help anyone. Think about what could be done if the possibly thousands of non-members were to join the class and make their demands. Join the class and be part of the solution.
I dont think powergroove was suggesting that he wanted anything for free, rather he was asking a pretty realistic question about why the approved parts cost so much, especially the sail.
Class membership doesnt do anything to make something less expensive, but rather it's hand In hand... if you want a Class legal boat you have to pay more in parts, if you want to race in a Class sanctioned event you have to join the class.
There is a delicate balance... suppose powergroove (and how many hundreds, thousands? like him) decides that he would rather be sailing than class legal... so he buys the replica parts... when he does that, he decreases the value of his boat, and decreases the value of his class membership. Further, he doesnt go to regattas anymore.
I guess when we hear masters complain about the size of regatta turnout, the cost of class legal upgrades and parts is something that due diligence dictates should Be examined as a possible reason.
Sure this is the Laser politics thread, but Laser politics doesnt have to be like US national politics. There is common ground.
Having the Laser class association make a significant effort to reduce the costs of laser parts may very well make it more possible for a person to keep a boat legal, and in turn show up at regattas where such legality is required.
If you arent motivated to spend $550 on a radial sail to beat around your lake, and instead decide to buy the $108 replica, it's even less likely that you will then later buy the $550 sail so you can participate in your district regatta...
I don't think anyone here is of the illusion that anything related to a boat is free... but when a practice spar is $80 and a legal spar is $202, it's hard not to feel like there are some inefficiencies that the class should be working on your behalf to correct. It's difficult also to see the class as benevolent dictator. Why cant the class examine Intensity's spar and make it legal, provided it's within the appropriate tolerance? Why are the classies so offended when people ask this question?
Not to be a know it all but..
The price of parts probably doesn't have a thing to do with association membership.
Perhaps you need to refocus this thread.
If your goal is to get the regular guy to join the class...
(which , by the way has never and never will be a goal of mine. I want people to come play with me on Lasers. I don't give a damn if there is a class or not and I sure don't care if anybody joins the class. But I DO see the class as a TOOL for use to get more people to come play with me. As I think I klnow how to use that tool called Laser Class to grow my favorite game, I think a strong powerful class can be a better "come play with me" tool than a "sign up or you can't play" exclusive organization for elite wanna be Olympians and their tag alongs.)
I think, in order to be large and useful to my goals of finding more friends present on the racecourse, the Association needs to cater to the regular local sailor and not be perceived as "just for the big shot regatta racers."
The most recent newsletter exemplifies how totally opposite the management's thinking is to my own. The president wrote all about how proud he is that our elite sailors are prospering and out big events are being well attended.
That's nice but, many of our districts don't even have articles about their activities. A casual new reader might think nobody gives a rat's patoot whether there even is a Laser in large parts of North America. There aren't even articles from the district charirmen. I would suppose nobody in any of those ignored districts gives a rats patoot about Lasers or who sails them or especially about some beginner fool who just got his or her first boat. ...Go away, you bother us!!!
I would't TRY to spend a single penny on big event promotion and dragging sailors to those big events.
Certainly a whole lot of association resources go to the big events. It takes manpower to schedule, organize and host and a lot of money and even neewlstter and website space.. The resources and money automatically pour from the association coffers into big events.
BUT... The way the game is grown and made into a great game and the place ALL the hotshots begin is at the local level.
Here's a basic rule about association publications and the website I consider to be very super maximum holy hell gotta do it or die important about association management that has now been ignored for eight years:
A person who has been sailing for a while and who has attended ONE regatta ought to be able to find at least one photo of someone he recognizes in every newsletter and on the website.
Recognizes for this do or die rule is defined by: "Hey! I know that person"
And that's not enough.
It should be a person who the viewer likes
It really ought to be a person the viewer is prety sure knows the viewer's name as well.
I figured a minimum of about 200 people's faces had to be in every newsletter and I felt like I wasn't doing my job if I didn't get those faces in there.
There needs to be a photo of a face from every district at a minimum.
There will always be plenty of big shots whose photos are in there. The important thing is to show faces of people who other sailors will want to come play with.
The newsletter needs to actually have some material a normal regular sailor will love to read. How long do you spend reading the Class newsletter?
How many people really give a rats patoot about how to set up an Olympic campaign or get in perfect shape for Laser sailing? And of those who want to know those things, do you seriously believe anybody would use an article in the newsletter as a serious source??
How about refocusing the newsletter and the website on that which people need and could use? Good old stuff about how to have fun with the toys, photos of people having fun, where to go to have fun, pictures of peiople having fun, stories from folks about how they had fun, images of sailors enjoying themselves, how to organize some fun for other people so they might join you,
and most of all. A schedule of every race and the location of every fleet where people play and make it clear EVERYBODY is invited.
Oh yes. If there is space left over the newsletter might have some stuff about how to race or do well in races but...that stuff is largely for the elite and we don't have the space to spend... especially with the shiny expensive clay covered paper that costs so much to print.
That shiny magazine might be pretty but it has about one tenth the space available for publishing information as a newsletter in newsprint and still , despite being so much less useful, costs more to publish.
I NEVER seriously considered changing to a shiny expensive magazine style Laser Sailor magazine because we can't afford a big enough shiny magazine to replace a 64 page tabloid newpaper. In its surrent format the NA Laser Sailor would need to be over 200 pages to have enough article and photo space to suffice.
I know for certain it is far more important to get out information that it is to look pretty. Since 2002 we have not had a North American newsletter. We have has a shiny magazine that does not serve our game's needs.
Maybe...Possibly...The class might consider someday...when there is lots of money to do so...publishing an annual shiny magazine that rehashes the previous year and shows champions and LOTS OF LOCAL PHOTOS. but I see no use what so ever for a shiny booklet of advertisements, association management discussions, builder propaganda, fitness discussions , a teeny tiny bit about sailing and nothing what so ever to invite newbies out to play and welcome those newbies who open it and read.
Every dairy farmer knows...Fill a huge vat and the very purest cream will rise in it.
I agree and I agree with what I interpret as your sentiment that it does not do this at the moment. A focus on major events targeted at the elite few, would mean many peoples' subscriptions effectively go to subsidising the few at the top of the game. Those lower down are just providing their already limited funds to help (the elite) others ... and this does not encourage membership.
Where I used to live the Class Association was not very active and did little for the membership. Very few people seemed to bother to join (nobody at either of the two clubs I was a member of). When it came to regattas, the organisers seemed to "appreciate the issues" and did not require Class Association membership.
It often does not take much to tip a class from being healthy into a decline and the decline can feed on itself, decline causing more people to not join causing more decline, etc.
Sometimes it seems more like, "give us your money for the good of the class, THEN go away..." Follow that with the dumbfoundingly ironic lament of "where is everyone?"
Gouvernail, I agree with your 'most of all' statement. Print a call for fleet registrations/renewals, and whetever fleet wants to register does so... then I would at least be able to find where the lasers in northern Indiana are...
I hope to meet Gouv someday as I always enjoy his viewpoints and logic and I mostly agree with him.
However, I'm not sure why the nice shiny magazine is a negative. I hope we keep it. I've only been to one major event, but I have met enough elite types at various events to enjoy seeing their names and pictures as well as the vendors who sell the stuff I get excited about purchasing.
I am relatively new to the class and hope to stay in the class, for what that matters. I still think, you should poll new class members and new owners as to what is important to them.
For this newbie, I also see the Class as a tool to get more people together to play. That is my reason for joining.
I bought a singlehanded boat because I thought it would be fun to race locally whenever I could find a little time. The laser had always looked like a fun boat.
I first joined the class because the membership was given to me when I purchased the boat. I found out about regattas because the shiny magazine showed me where I could find regattas. I went to some regattas because I had sailed one designs as a kid a few decades ago and thought that would be fun. At the regattas, I was initially at the back of the pack as I was new to the boat and hadn't raced in a decade or so. Nevertheless, the sailors at the front of the pack treated me as if I was as important to the event as they were. I met several. They were happy to help me improve my sailing and forgiving of my errors. I could also see that the guys at the front of the pack treated their peers the same way.
The Forum has also kept my interest in the Class waxing.
I may be in a unique district, but I hope others have similar experiences. I agree that the Class will be strongest if it is strong at the local level and that is from having more folk to play with who like their competitors to enjoy it as well.
Considering what I hear about other classes struggles with membership, we are probably doing pretty well.
I left out the standard pre apology so my total lack of political skills won't get me in trouble.
I never ever want to be accused of having political skills. Politics has morphed into partisan mud throwing at every level. They have an aisle and people on opposite sides of that aisle find it more important to be on the other side than the right side.
For us there are those of us who loves Laser sailing and nobody else is here.
Sharing of ideas, no matter how clumsily, ignorantly, and tactlessly those ideas are presented, must never been seen as anything but sincere efforts to make a contribution.
We must never let the Laser community or sailing community mimic the hateful the power struggle of politics.
NONE of my comments should be construed as criticism of the hard work, efforts and dedication of those who voluntteer to run the class or even of the paid employee as I think she goes well beyond her pay scale in service rendered...
Tracy probably does more than anybody...(except maybe Arland Whitesides) for NA Laser sailing.
I don't always agree with how he focuses his efforts and I have regularly tried to change his mind about how he focuses
...but those efforts are HIS EFFORTS and he can focus them any way he chooses and expect a thank you from each and every one of us for every second he spends.
All I do is make honest suggestions, run the best regatta I know how to run, and occasionally do whatever else I can afford.
Do not EVER confuse my suggestions or policy criticisms with a lack of appreciation for those others who spend personal time and do exactly what they think is best for Laser sailing.
Note to Mental Floss ( A moniker I find incredibly clever) : I am not suggesting we stop having newsletters...I am suggesting bigger cheaper to publish newsprint newsletters with many times more space for photos and information than is available in the much more expensive to publish currentl used shiny magazine format. .
I've never seen your posts as critical, only brainstorming for the good of the class.
Funny you should mention Arland. I am in District 12 and have seen firsthand how hard she has worked and know she has done even more behind the scenes. Incredible.
I too thought the Mental Floss moniker was clever. That is why I stole it from a psychologist friend I used to crew for in the 80's. One of his patients made him a t-shirt with a characature of a patient with floss running through his ears.
From my perspective, the Laser Class is layered organization:
1) The main responsibilities of the International Class include organizing the World Championships (Senior Worlds, Master Worlds, Radial Worlds - 4 divisions, 4.7 Worlds and, now, ,Youth Standard Worlds), maintaining the Class Rules, inspecting/interfacing the builders to insure the boats are one design, interfacing to ISAF, etc. In addition, the International Class has to interface to the Regions, keeping an eye towards developing Laser sailing around the world. With the Laser Standard and Radial both Olympic this is a HUGE task involving now 4 full time employees who are working their tails off, plus 2 half time employees (though I know one of the half time employees is now working more than full time and I, for one, greatly appreciate his effort). They are helped a little bit by the volunteer members of the World Council.
2) In a like fashion, the Regional Associations need to insure their championship regattas are scheduled and run according to standard, interface to the MNA's of their region (for us that's CYA and US Sailing), interface to our Region's builder (LP in Rhode Island), interface to ILCA, keep track of who's qualified for what world championship, etc. Importantly, the Regional Association needs to interface to the District Associations making resources available to them to help them to organize their Districts. Again, its a huge job and we pay two people the equivalent of about the median income in the US to do a job that can be open ended on the number of hours needed. At this level we have the five members of the Executive Committee (myself, Eric Faust, Clay Johnson, Tommy Wharton and LauraLee Symes) to help them.
3) At the next level we have the District Associations where now everything is done by a volunteer. In North America we have 26 District Secretaries and they work their tail's off to make sure things happen in their District, going essentially unnoticed. They interface back to the Regional Association, organize the overall sailing calendar, maintain a website/email list/forum/something to get the word out to people, etc. For sailors who do more than just race weekends at the local club, this is the person they are most likely to interact with on any sort of regular basis.
4) And at the bottom are the actual Fleets that most people sail in. A huge number of people out there have a boat and just race at the local level, for them the Fleet Captain is the single person they see when it comes to racing a Laser.
Since the North American Region collects the money it has the capability to provide resources back to the Fleets and to the Districts. Among the things ILCA-NA does: 1) provide space on the Laser Class website for fleets to have a presence (e.g. see Steve Orosz' fleet), 2) provide the fleet schedule in the calendar on the Laser Class website (and I really don't know why all Laser events in North America are not in this calendar, especially since you can have contact info, a map to where your event is, etc., etc., see for example this listing and note that you can include photos too), 3) provide financial resources to District Secretaries to help them organize their District (e.g. website, newsletter, etc.), 4) publish Laser related articles in TLS, 5) publish reminders on the front page at www.laser.org (and rss feeds then distribute that to places like TLF, Twitter, my web browser, ...), etc.
On the other hand, I don't believe that one or two people in San Diego should be telling everyone all over the North American Region what's best for the local Fleets. In my opinion, the strength of our organization derives exactly from the hard work of the local Fleet Captains, who interface with the District Secretaries - the "locals" at the District level - before coming up to the Regional level. There are literally hundreds of people out there volunteering to organize our racing. Why would we want to replace them with just two underpaid and overworked people?
Yes, I am proud of the fact that OUR major events in North America have seen such great turnout during such a difficult economic period. And I don't buy that the major events only cater to the elite - the events move around the region (except for CORK and MWE) and whenever a big event comes to town more than half the entries are local sailors. They turn out to take advantage of sailing in one of our major - and open - events so they can get to sail against the best our Region has to offer. That's why you see a District's membership spike every time one of the major events rolls into their area. Contrast that with the big Eurolympic events where virtually none of the sailors are "local".
The MWE start next week, they have over 185 boats pre-registered from 27 countries! My bet is that makes MWE the largest international sailing event in North America for a one design organization (ie perhaps the OCR had more countries, not sure). Look at the entry list, it includes at least one gold medalist, several World Champions, the ISAF #1 ranked sailor, etc. But it also includes plenty of average sailors taking advantage of the opportunity to get some time off from Winter and sail in a truly international event against some great talent.
So, yes, if you join some of your money is going to help support the organization of major events. Some of your money goes to help the organization of International events (about 1/4 of ILCA-NA dues go to ILCA). Some of your dues go to making sure the builders are complying with the LCM. Some of your money goes to keeping the Class Rules up to date in a rapidly changing world. Etc. But that investment is what continues to make the Laser THE singlehanded boat to race and DOES insure that when you go to replace your current boat you are going to get top dollar for it. And, at the same time, the rest of your dues are going back into things that you can actually hold in your hand, like the website, TLS, bumper stickers, support to your District, as well as many other things less tangible.
At the end of the day, sailors are getting a pretty fantastic return on their $40/year.
While this is off topic, on the newsletter, two comments:
1) It will surprise people, I'm sure, to discover that the printing cost of the glossy version of TLS is not significantly more expensive than newsprint. Thanks to Eric Faust, we have a printer that gives us a fantastic deal on printing and mailing TLS (anyone notice that the mailing problems of several years ago have disappeared?). In addition, with the decline of newspapers, printing costs for newsprint have gone up. From where I sit, the difference in price is negligible, especially given the tremendous improvement in quality (in particular resolution) compared to newsprint, with the benefit of having something that one would find on the coffee table at a sailing club, or in one's home, etc.
2) If people would like to see more/different content, how about writing an article and sending it to Jerelyn, the TLS editor, for the next edition? She'll take any Laser related article and she won't check your membership (though you won't get a copy of your article in print unless you are a member!). Want to see more pictures? Send a her a high resolution photo with photographer credit, a brief description of what the photo is about and, if possible, the name's of the people in the photo.
I know that Jerelyn constantly faces a conundrum - with the age of the internet the big events get a lot of publicity during and right after the event, an article in TLS strictly reporting on the event are less timely than they were a decade ago, so people find them as "boring." So, she tries to get people to give a unique viewpoint, but not everyone is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, so you get what you get. On the flip side, she tries to include things that would appeal to local sailors (District reports, sailor profiles, fleet profiles, builder's column, fitness articles, etc.) but she relies on people volunteering their effort. In this day and age we are all busy and it can be difficult to get everything on time.
While the last issue was still missing a few District Reports, I'd say the overall turnout was great for a Winter Issue.
Finally, it should also be noted that we now have online all issues of TLS back to Winter 1999. Right now they are all "open" so check them out now because feedback has been universal that we should put this in a "member's only" area - which is going to happen very soon! Currently, the last 4 issues are password protected, but you can see all the rest at this link.
(side note: for those that want to log in to the website to see the four most recent issues, you must be a current member, your username will be the email address you have in the member database, your password is your member id. If you have forgotten one or the other, you can retrieve the info at this link).
I think the district reports are the most important part of the newsletter.
$35 wasn't really enough ten years ago. Inflation makes $40 smaller than the $35 back then. It may be time to hit the sailors up for $50
Maybe offer levels of membership like contributing, supporting, sustaining, and etc. It seems we have discussed that a lot but never done it. Lots of us would add a few extra bucks just to contribute.
It doesn't matter whether it's tax deductible. We simeply need a simple way to do it and perhaops even a sign brought to big regattas with a list of all the special contributors and a request to join them in helping.
Hell, maybe like public TV. Stop the fleet for a commercial in the middle of the biggest best races and ask everybody to contribute so we can continue to provide great racing!!!
I'm half serious here. Work with that idea and ther are ways to actually use it...during the big dinner at any event an interuption Public TV style would not only be funny but I believe many of us would respond by contributing.
Damn I wish I could do teh Mids that fleet sounds great. I gotta save up for another Wrightsville Beach trip though
Especially with all the old guys. We old guys often are in a much better position to throw money than spend time and the class needs both from us.
Isnt it funny that all this illegal stuff from a non manufacturer supplier(Intensity)has the most advertisement on this site,that to my understanding, is supposedly being paid for by class membership?
Just too funny...
Actually, no. The Laser Forum (www.laserforum.org) is independently operated from the Laser Class. That leaves Bradley free to choose whomever he wants for advertising, among other things. And note that if you scroll to the bottom of the page it seems that LP (through Laser Direct) is the dominant advertiser.
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