New standard sail

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by TonyB, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Who is the we who are going to undertake this work ? Who is going to administer the approved sailmakers (e.g. check they are making a constant product to whatever specifications the "we" draw-up. If fact who is the "we is going to draw up specifications for what these 3rd parties are going to make such that when in a competition they can be checked against something). Somebody in the "we" is going to have to undertake random check on different batches to check the material, shape, etc.

    I assume that the "we" is going to undertake all this work for free because "we" cannot afford to have any additional margins added to the cost of these low cost sails.

    etc.

    Rather than complicate everything with additional unregulated sailmakers making whatever they want and still trying to call it all "strict one design" why not get the builders to pull their fingers out and provide a sail that lasts better at a sensible price. Of course they will not be able to make one lasting longer than knock-offs nor will their's be cheaper than the knock-offs but provided they get to a reasonable longevity and reasonable price we cannot really ask for more - and maybe we can restoreone aspect of what the Laser is about (strict one design).

    Ian
     
  2. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    What makes you think that LP isn't looking around for other sailmakers to make the sail? We were not told which companies were making prototypes.
     
  3. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    What you're proposing is not what Gouvernail seems to be proposing. Gouvernail proposed appears to be approving a non builder supplied sail, i.e. a sail that is not sourced through the existing supply chain. Essentially an official replica sail.

    The ILCA and Builders need to work together for the stability, if the ILCA suddenly opted to take the Builder out of the equation, then the builder might start making design and spec changes to the boat without the approval of the ILCA, that relationship needs to be properly maintained and his flows onto the dealer network. So then what Gouvernail proposing would need to be done at the district level and each district would be able to choose which ever replica sail(s) they wanted.

    What you are proposing is essentially the status quo with different manufacturers, which will still meet up with the current price because of the existing supply chain. Further, what you're proposing can't be achieved because Intensity et al would need to revert to a sail cloth which North and Hyde would rather not be using.

    You really think North and Hyde want to be using a mid 80's spec sail cloth? You don't think they have much more durable cloths available? They specially manufacture this cloth, just for the laser class. Why is the class still using the cloth is because the technical committee didn't revue the cloth for a long period and are no forced to deal with the large impact of using a modern cloth which will have a significant impact on the sail design if the performance of the sail is to remain un-altered. Intensity et al can chose any cloth they want and performance of the sail is irrelevant because they aren't worried about making existing class legal sails obsolete, something the ILCA technical committee and manufacturers are concerned with.

    I'll repeat what I said six months ago.



    There are two issues running with sail manufacturing situation, whilst they are associated, they are different issues.
    • The cost of the sails is largely related to the supply chain. The builders need to address this issue, so that their sails become more affordable.
    • The quality of the sail needs to be addressed by the ILCA. They have permitted the existing sails to be manufactured to long with sail cloth chosen in the mid 80's. What was an acceptable cloth in the mid 80's has now been superseded, but because of the way the ILCA works, it's difficult to do significant changes ,sail cloth and sail design needs to be altered every 4 years and not 25 years as it becomes more difficult to end up with the small performance with big changed.
    It will be impossible for the existing supply chain to match the price of replica gear, but if durability is improved and the price does fall, with an active Laser Association at all levels, clubs etc, then the hopefully people will prefer class legal equipment, where at least those in the supply chain contribute something back to the class and sole motivation isn't a quick profit.
     
  4. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    I agree with many of your prepositions. We are simply drawing different conclusions.

    All serious racers prefer legal gear. Because they must in order to race and be scored. It's not about abandoning that principle but rather about a different implimentation.

    I don't believe we need to order everything that LP serves up. Why should they alter the boat significantly to the point were older boats wouldn't be competitive anymore? They would risk their monopoly. LP has - and even without supplying the sail would keep - the retail a monopoly for the essential Laser equipment, a monopoly that is - and would still be with only one exception - granted to them not by the intellectual property and exploitation rights that they own but by us, the ILCA members. Because we can define anything we want as our class racing standard.

    There are considerable benefits from the relationship as is, no doubt. We should weigh those benefits against the disadvantages though and the disadvantages have become considerable, considerung current quality and cost of the boat and it's parts.

    In my view, the supply chain isn't an asset of the LP-monopoly anymore. There has been a considerable reduction of the number official Laser dealers world wide recently. In Germany it seems we are down to one and it hardly makes a difference if I mail order from 300 kms or from 3000 kms away (well, to the enviroment it does, but that's a different story).

    I wouldn't expect LP to meet Intensity's price. However, at three times the price of a replica for the official sail (including battens, numbers, telltales) they should have a margin to either lower the price considerably or provide better quality.

    Sure they are required to use cloth from the 80ies. However, as I understand, it's not the ILCA that is asking for that cloth. There's nothing I can find in the class about it. And there's no indication that the cloth the replicas are made of offer a performance advantage. The replicas have different characteristics. But so do new and old legal sails. As long as it is legal to buy a new sail for each regatta, why shouldn't we allow more durable cloth with equal performace characteristics?

    Since the Technical Committee is reviewing the specs I though they might as well review the suppliers. That's all.

    Last but not least I believe that competition can be good for the LP business too and that we might profit from negotiations either way. Sooner or later another boat builder will try and break into the Laser market. The Rooster project X looks promising, but it might come from a completely different direction, who knows. Class and builder will only survive if they stay competitive.
     
  5. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    What things do you think LP made or is making that makes the older boats non competative. I'm sure you'll mention the new control lines but what else?
     
  6. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    It is the ILCA that has agreed to the spec cloth being used. The sail makers can't suddenly change materials, shape etc without the apporval of the ILCA technical committee. As I've said before, what' s gone wrong is that no change has occurred for so long that it's difficult for similar performance between the existing and potential new sails to be achieved.

    As for the replica cloth not offering a performance advantage. I was speaking to one of the top sailors in our district today and he has two boat tuned against another top sailor in this district, both with what would be considered new sails. Their findings were that the Intensity sails offered significant performance advantage in strong winds. The sails set up completely differently and Intensity sail can be de-powered far more effectively.

    You'll hae to ask Tracy, nut I'd be surprised if other suppliers were not approached in the current review of the sail.
     
  7. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    One thing everyone needs to understand about a manufacturer's one-design class like the Laser vs. an open one-design like the 470 or 505. The only reason the class exists, and the only reason the manufacturer continues to build boats, it because the manufacturer has a monopoly on the class.

    I'm not defending LP and the current mess with the class-legal sail. However, my experience is a mnufacturer's one-design class is cheaper in the long run than an open class. Hardware wars drive the costs up and make it harder for the Average Joe to compete.

    The builder may have a monopoly over the Laser class, but still has to compete against other classes when customers chose to buy a boat. This helps keep the overall price in check, despite the "monopoly".
     
  8. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    As this thread spins closer and closer around the drainhole of absurdity...

    please realize..

    Builders especially take note.

    If the builder supplied Lasser sail were a fantastic long lasting sail, nobody would be tolerating all the "other suppliers."

    the problem is the builder supplied sail is garbage and sometimes even shows ugly wrinkles on day one.

    We want to spend our money of a really nicely buiilt and durable sail.

    We are sick of being married by our own rules to some of the crappiest sails used in any form of sailboat racing.

    The builders could have spent $100 of the $400 they pocket on each sail to build something of which they could be proud and we would be happy to use.

    But.

    nooooo

    They have abused our faithful trust for nearly 40 years and we have finally given up and begun to seek alternatives.

    It isn't too late. A truly fine long lasting builder supplied sail would shut off all the replical builders instantly.

    But...

    But.

    Hell I don't know but what?? I just know the builders brought this upon themselves.

    Thye sails that come with Lasers suck!!

    There's no excuse for building suckwad sails in 2010. Theres absolutely no excuse for using 1960s technology to produce suckwad sails for a premium price in 2010.

    There was no excuse for the garbage sails in 1980.

    There was no excuse for the garbage sails in 1985.

    There was no excuse for the garbage sails in 1990.

    There was no excuse for the garbage sails in 1995.

    There was no excuse in 2000. There is no excuse that is going to be created next year.

    If a company with a guaranteed clientele of no fewer than 10,000 customers per year cannot produce a better product than competitors building a few once in a while, the company with the guaranteed clientele deserves to fail.

    There are literally hundreds of entrepeneurs eagely waiting for a chance to replace th4e current laser builders.

    I am looking foreward to the day when the Laser builders decidet o produce the very best possible product for the very best customers...Who happen to be US!!!
     
  9. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    Back in my Lightning Class days, we had multiple builders and sailmakers. Regional and National and similar events had Official Measurers. If your boat and sail measured, you were good to go. At the local level, we used the products of those same multiple builders and sailmakers and unless some average sailing all of a sudden started winning all the silver, no one cared much. I'm relatively new to the Laser Class.

    What steps would allow the Laser Class to operate the same way?
     
  10. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    Dear God. I hope none! When ws the last time you were in a lightning? Do you know what a new lightning costs these days? Hell, just a mast for a Finn is over $ 3,500.00.

    This is about the SAILS not the whole flipping boat.
     
  11. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Well, first:
     

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  12. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Here is what would happen if the Laser class was opened up to multiple builders.

    The Australian builder seems to be regarded as making the highest quality. They would survive by catering to Olympic and high-end Masters sailors. The price of their boat would double overnight.

    Sailing seems fairly popular in Europe, so a builder would probably come online to also cater to elite sailors. Again, probably double the current price.

    The US market would be served by imported hulls from China. The price would be competitive, but the build quality inconsistent.

    Yes, completely about the sails. There needs to be trust between the builder and the class, and the current rag is poisoning that.
     
  13. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    None of the aforementioned horrors happened back in the day of multiple Lightning builders and sailmakers. There are fewer nowadays.

    I'm betting the Finn mast is more complex than the Laser mast.

    I'm not sure how multiple builders will cause an inferior product as I thought the monopoly on sailmaking in the Laser class was the reason for the inferior product.

    I'm just asking what hurdles there are to allow multiple sailmakers in the Laser Class. Have measurers at major events and get over it at the more local level.
     
  14. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    The only thing stopping us from running things like the Lightning class is we don't want to run things like the Lightning class.

    The new sail is being tested. Hope it fits the bill and comes out soon. I want to buy one.
     
  15. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    I'd buy two if they weren't so expensive. One would be for me and the other for my son who is getting interested. With the difference in price between the Intensity's and the class approved sail, with the money saved buying less expensive sails, I could buy another nice used boat for my other son.

    By the way, I haven't been active in Lightnings since the 60's and 70's and that is the era which had the competition of multiple suppliers. It was a great bunch of folk then and seemed extremely well run. Sorry you don't seem to like the way it is run now.
     
  16. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    It's not the way the class is designed. It's there so we know everyone has the same equipment. The Lightning isn't owned by a builder, anyone can make one as long as it is measured. Lasers are owned by the builder so they can say who makes what.

    Measuring 70 boats at a Lightning NAs is completely different than measuring 200+ boats at a North American/world championship.
     
  17. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    Thanks for the concise answer.

    I'm new enough to the class to not know the builder owned the whole class. Apparently that must work or else there would be an exodus to another class. I was sailing before Laser and Force 5 were invented and having not sailed one against the other, I wondered why the class boat which seemed exceedingly more durable and better behaved upwind boat, the Force 5, was not nearly as successful as the less durable, more thrilling downwind boat, the Laser.
     
  18. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    I think it's important to remember the business model for the Laser class is 40 years old. Sailing was a much more popular sport, outsourcing manufacturing across an ocean was cost prohibitive, and there was no internet to bypass the dealer network. I would think support from the dealer network was a prime reason for the success of the class.

    Thisi is obviously a challenging time for both the builder and the class.
     
  19. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    When people talk about "the builders" whilst there is a long term company who are "the builders", the individuals making the decisions change (as people move jobs, retire, etc.). Whilst in the past "the builders" may have operated the Laser well and made a great success of the class, it was actually the individuals within "the builders" who were making the good decisions.

    Those people who are currently making decisions are not the same as those of the past. Where there were capable people in the past the same is not necessarily true today. This ongoing fiasco with the sails is a clear indication of the capability of "the builders" to address issues of major importance in a timely manner - i.e. they are showing themselves totally incompetent or totally disinterested to the significant detriment of the class.

    If the builders cannot or will not do something then they should step aside and pass the responsibility on to others; at least that way things might actually happen. I would prefer the builder do something but the current situation is doing so much damage and still the builder does nothing ...

    In summary, that "the builders" have done things right in the past" does not mean they are doing things right now because the people are different and I think most people can form their own opinions of capability of the current employees from the action they have taken over the sail problems.

    Ian
     
  20. TonyB

    TonyB Member

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    I think you're being a little harsh there Ian. The builders are doing something about it, but these things take time. The Laser Class has always been slow moving and conservative. I'd prefer they take three years and get the new sail right than rush through a bad change we'll have to live with for 20 years. I actually think it's a good sign that they're taking the time to get it right despite the hit their business must be taking from the replica sailmakers.

    Also, remember that when we refer to the "builders", we are actually mean a group of independent businesses. Not as many as before, but there is still LP in the US and Europe, PSA in Australia, and the Japanese builder (are they independent of PSA?). All have to agree on any change, and the ILCA have to be on board as well. Getting agreement between these groups wouldn't be straightforward.

    My main criticism is the lack of real information from the ILCA, i.e. our representatives in all of this. If we didn't have Tracy giving occasional teasers to NA sailors and (mostly NA) forum users, we would be completely in the dark. Ninety percent of the current discussion is speculative and misinformed, but without a better information flow, what can we expect? I think much of the angst about the current sail would go away if there were regular updates from the ILCA, but there's not a single word about the new sail on their website, and only the briefest mention in a Laser World last year.

    I'm sure there are commercial reasons for some of the secrecy, but that's only justifiable up to a point. There just isn't enough transparency about what is going on at the ILCA level. The class website has improved out of sight in the last couple of years, but apart from regatta reports there is very little real info, especially for people already sailing in the class. It would be an ideal way to get this kind of information out quickly and cheaply. But that's a whole different thread.
     

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