New Foils

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Matt, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Well, there used to be a bit a buffer between the class association and the builder. Namely the license holder, the person who actually owns the rights to the Laser design. The builder paid him a fee for the right to build boats, and he looked out to preserve the one-design aspects of the class.

    I've only heard this third hand, but the situation may have changed. I've been told Laser Performance has purchased the rights to the Laser design from the license holder.
     
  2. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    My understanding was that Performance Sailcraft Australiasia bought the license.

    IMHO there has to be a balance between the builders staying in business (and making a profit) vs serving the class (we sailors), right now it seems it's tilted towards the builders.

    Looking back, it wasn't too many years ago where the builders were building Lasers and perhaps no more then 2 or three other one design boats. Compare that to the range of boats they are building now now, it really makes me wonder if the builders are using the Laser as a means to sustain them because their other boat lines are bleeding red ink (if they didn't shrink production/overhead etc). Add to that the fact that LP bought Vanguard and it's assets about year prior to the "mother of all recessions" and it wouldn't be surprising to hear they are cash poor about now.
     
  3. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    AFAIK, a license can be exclusive or non-exclusive.

    In case this isn't clear, suppose Sailerman invents a diddlydo and applies for a patent. Sailerman then executes an exclusive license with LP, giving only LP the right to make and sell the diddlydo. The license will stipulate how much Sailerman will receive. If another company starts selling the diddlydo, LP has to go after them in court.

    If Sailerman executes licenses with several companies, these will be non-exclusive.

    The question is what kind of license was executed between Kirby (?) and Performance Sailcraft Australasia.
     
  4. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    My understanding (which may be completely wrong) was that Kirby has sold the license, ie he is no longer collecting a royalty for each Laser. PSA now owns the license and can decide who the other builder(s) will be as well as collect the royalty for each Laser. This might partially explain why LP (Europe and NA) did not promote the Aussie blades and instead went into partnership (or ownership ?) and started producing their own "new" blades
     
  5. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    That's exactly the word I would have used, balance. I think it is to the class' advantage to have a viable, profitable builder to provide new boats and those precious spare parts. They key is to not for the builder to exploit the class.

    I see it kind of like this:

    A one-design, single-sourced sail to keep costs down - Good.
    Selling a piece of crap for 3X the cost of an equivalent Chinese sail - Bad.

    Changing the board composition to improve the supply chain - Good.
    Selling different quality "practice", "race" and "pro" boards to maximize profit - Bad.
     
  6. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    The problem is getting that balance back. My view is that there needs to be something like an alternative boat to move to (the Byte/MegaByte tried but never gained traction in NA) or some enterprising company to provide a replacement sail (with all the right qualities) AND organize an "Alternate" Laser class. Without those type of alternatives, we just keep being bent over by the builder
     
  7. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Long thread to read through, here are some random comments representing my personal opinion with only, in some cases, a little more information that what others might have:

    1) LaserPerformance did not choose to stop buying the foam core Crompton foils we have had for decades. Rather, the uber parent of the company that made Crompton foils made a business decision last Winter/Spring and decided to no longer manufacture foils. I don't know why they made that decision, it's rumored that they need to update their tooling and decided the return was not worth the investment. Also, I think its presumptuous to assume that people lost jobs over that decision - its a big company and it's more likely they were simply absorbed into other tasks.

    2) LaserPeformance then needed to source a new supplier of foils in a rather short time period and partnered with Infused Foils in China. These foils meet all the technical specifications of the Laser Construction Manual with the same shape, weight, flex characteristics, etc., as the Crompton foils. As with the PSA foils, the only real difference between them and the Crompton foils is the out of the box finish. Personally, I see this as an advantage as this improved finish pretty much takes away the advantage the arms race folks get by sending their foils off for refinishing (and we all know there are some beautiful refinished Crompton foils out there!).

    3) As to the different models of foils... I can only offer that LP would LIKE to sell different models of blades but whether they actually DO sell different models remains to be seen. Posters to this thread are not the only people who disagree on whether this is in the best interest of Laser sailing. Of course, on the flip side, if people will spend $1200 for PSA foils imported to North America then I'm guessing LP figures they have a market out there!

    4) This will start to wander the discussion off topic a bit, but I think there is a real disconnect on pricing. First (warning: echo coming!) the problem with pricing does not start at the source - the cost to produce a real Laser part versus a fake one is more or less the same. As we all know, the difference in price is entirely due to the supply chain - which leads to the second point: it seems to me that we no longer perceive the benefit this supply chain brings to all of us sailors. Our automatic assumption is that all that extra money we pay is going to line the pockets of the evil builders, or the, apparently, equally evil dealers, when, in reality, the bulk of the money is going to support the system that has been set up. I know that the replica people don't look at things this way, but they are taking advantage of all the infrastructure that system supports to significantly undercut the price without having to support it themselves.

    I'm not a builder, I'm not privileged to their business plan going forward, etc., etc. But clearly they have some tough decisions that need to be made regarding the future of how they will operate. From my perspective, the dealer system has huge advantages, from customer convenience of a local shop (certainly convenient when you break something and need it fixed right away), to local proponents for the sport, etc. This system has given us 200,000 boats worldwide, including nearly all corners of North America, and has served us well so far. Because of that, and this is just my PERSONAL opinion, I think the builders worldwide are trying to follow Torrid's model of producing better quality (and yes, there is still considerable effort on a better quality Standard sail) as opposed to completely trashing the current model.

    I think we as sailors should remind ourselves of what we are getting from this system when we have discussions about pricing of real Laser equipment versus replica stuff.
     
  8. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Perhaps the alternatives haven't materialized because, in the end, they can't provide the same bang for the buck that Laser can.

    I'd bet that if you made a replica Laser and then tried to build up a parallel universe of replica Laser sailing (replica class association, replica regatta structure, replica worlds with provided replica boats, etc.) that, in the end, the price would rapidly rise back to about what we pay now, minus a small premium that I'll bet being the Olympics brings.
     
  9. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Nice to have you back and clearing up the fog somewhat.


    Are you in a position to give any update or at least a date when we might get an update from builder/class ? (IMHO, so much of the debate/whining over cost/value goes away when a durable sail is finally released)
     
  10. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    I think the dealer network set up by the various Lasers builders served the class well for the first 30 years or so of the class. However the paradigm has shifted, and I don't know if I would even want to be a Laser bulder or dealer now. Demand is trailing off as the sport of sailing is dying. Cheap labor is available overseas. Buying parts on the internet is more convenient that driving to the store.

    I remember when I bought my first Laser, 17 years ago fresh out of school. All I could afford was a $700 repainted marshmellow hull. I literally lived right next door to the Laser dealer, a West Marine franchise. If I needed a part, I walked next door and bought it.

    Now I have an almost new Laser, and don't hesitate to buy anything for it. It's just that the nearest dealer is 200 miles away. That pretty much dictates shopping online at the volume places with the most stuff.
     
  11. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Dying seems a bit harsh - we are in the middle of a global recession (looks like a double dip one at that) and like most non-essential items, spending money on anything related to sailing is where we all look to save first. So people are choosing to sail locally more, with older gear etc.. At least that is what I'm seeing in my neck of the woods. Also, the Laser is near the bottom of the food (cost) chain, so as people downsize their boats, the Laser should benefit.
     
  12. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Without wanting to take this thread completely off-topic but in the UK there are a fair number of Lasers and no real supply chain. You can buy a few Laser parts from a few internet "dealers" and you can buy any Laser part direct from Laser Performance (normally at the same price). Local chandleries "round the corner" might sell a transom bung or a eye (pretty generic anyway) but if you want a sail then no-way (at least round me that is the case). And Laser Performance are pretty efficient and heir shipping charges quite low (unless you need it next day when they are same as everybody's "next day" service).

    So when I last purchased a sail direct from Laser Performance and I paid far more than the same sail from a dealer in the US I question where all this "supply chain" markup is happening (in the UK). Because buying direct from Laser Performance without a dealer network they avoid competing with - strikes me that there are some very very very high markups at some point in the chain (which is either the sailmaker or Laser Performance).

    Ian
     
  13. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    One reason prices in Europe are "higher" than here is the VAT. Here we see the taxes after the price and tend to not think to include it in the overall amount (hence quotes). In England, doesn't the VAT run something like 15-20%?

    Doesn't your own example support that the markup is not coming from supplier, since the same supplier is supplying the same builder between the US and England? If the sail costs more in England I'd look for reasons why it costs the builder more there. While I'm sure LP charges what they can, in a sailing mad country like England, where there are tons of classes to choose from, there has to be a limit before people start changing to other boats.
     
  14. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I would say that the ongoing development process, which has been incredibly thorough, appears to be set to yield a very positive result, with the dim light of the end of the tunnel maybe now in sight. Still, one needs to continue to be patient, though I think we're now no longer talking geological time scales.

    I do agree with your point on regarding the debate over the cost/value ratio.
     
  15. Horizon

    Horizon Member

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    Looking at the pictures from the Laser Worlds just finished at Hayling Island, it seems as though the new foils were supplied with the boats.

    However, comments from some of the sailors indicate a number of breakages or problems with them:

    Tom Slingsby had a cracked centreboard which had to be replaced by one that had already been repaired:
    http://www.laserworlds2010.co.uk/ne...breeze_as_the_pressure_builds_towards_the_cut


    Paul Goodison broke the top off his centreboard in the final race:
    http://www.paulgoodison.com/

    Ashley Brunning with problems on the final day:
    http://brunning.wordpress.com/
     
  16. Mattcm

    Mattcm Member

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    There are breakages at every worlds, usually about 6 or so. It happens because the builder has to quickly mass produce over 150 boats for the regatta. There will be a few issues with some of the gear
     
  17. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    The ILCA prefers it if the boats are all sitting in a warehouse completed 6 months in advance. The issue with the boards is that it took PSA 5 years of development to achieve to current product and there have been several total project redevelopments. LP in Europe have rushed their development and the product onto the market in my opinion.
     
  18. Sean

    Sean Member

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    But we cant produce them "competitively" and as such must ship even more manufacturing offshore, either that or its sheer greed, you decide.
    We must bow down to the gods of growth and productivity even if in the process we destroy all our manufacturing and make another nation stronger.

    The people moving factories abroad, not to survive but just to maximise profits, with all the consequent job losses and suffering that goes along with it etc are traitors IMHO. Selling their own country out to a foreign power for some dubious financial gain. They have no honour or pride in their own nation and I can tell you this, the Chinese for eg think we are suckers.
    Go do business in China and try and take business from them not throw business at them and see how they play hard ball when it comes to positions being reversed.

    They are far better than us at taking the long view and we will bitterly regret one day what we have done over the past few decades.
     
  19. dredies

    dredies Member

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    Don't know about the rest of the world, but that's certainly not the case in North America. I brought this up with Tracy recently, and he said that it's not economically viable for the builder to have that stock sitting in storage so they knock them off quick before the event.

    At Halifax, you could smell the fiberglass curing whenever your hull flexed.
     
  20. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    The boats for the worlds held in Australia a few years ago, started being built 3 years in advance, a late and unanticipated huge demand for new boats saw them eat into this stock and some had to be produced late in the piece. The boats for the 2012 Worlds are currently in production and have been for more than 12 months. From memory the 2000 Olympic boats were completed 12 months prior to the Olympics. ItCould be a production capability issue with PSA, it produces about 30-40 boats a month total, they couldn't stop production for 5 months to supply the required number of boats for a Worlds, instead they keep producing a few extra each month and stock pile them. It also seems that they do keep a higher stock levels as most of their sails occur between August and December and very few outside those times, which does allow the hulls to cure more thoroughly.
     

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