New standard sail

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

  1. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    I guess we can hope for one of several things to happen at this point:

    1)- Laser Performance gets their act together.
    2)- They go bankrupt and someone on "means" buys the rights to the boats out of receivership.
    3)- They. (LP) decide to sell off the rights to generate cash to keep the company going and someone of "means" steps in and buys it.
    4)- Someone of "means" approaches LP and offers to buy out the rights to the Laser or a package deal of Laser, Sunfish and Opti which has to be the "meat" of their brands around the fat.

    Anybody got a few mil?, (in euros I guess). I'm not exactly cash flush, but would consider getting involved.....
     
  2. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Any news from the meetings that were just held ?

    Also anybody know what role Meywin is playing ?
     
  3. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Ok, here is a brief and unofficial update on the development of a new Standard sail.

    As we all know, the summary of the main goals for the project are to produce a better quality, more durable sail that doesn't change the game of Laser sailing. Over the course of the past two years a number of designs have been considered, from cross cut to radial, and from several sailmakers/designers. Testing has included sailors covering the full range of abilities, from Olympic level sailors (including medalists) to fleet level sailors, and has been done in Australia, Europe, Japan and the US. As has been discussed in this thread, a tremendous amount of effort is being spent to try to get it as close to "right" as possible before possible introduction.

    As has already been pointed out in this thread, recent prototypes have focused on a bi-radial cut sail. In addition to the cut, several other changes are being contemplated to increase sail durability, including changing the cloth, significantly increasing reinforcing in high load corners of the sail, reinforcing added to the ends of the batten pockets (where extended periods of luffing cause the material to break down), improving the seaming, etc. The bi-radial cut allows the sail designer to remove the distortions present in the current sail, including the annoying wrinkle emanating from the mast collar making this sail really look like a sail when beating to windward. As well the cut allows much better control over the leech tension eliminating the annoying flutter in all but the strongest of breeze. If nothing else, this project has demonstrated that it is possible to produce a significantly better looking sail for the Laser, with the current mast, than what we have now.

    While the latest version under test is the "Mark XXII", a number of sailors have done extensive testing with the "Mark XVII" to evaluate the durability of such a sail. I have had a copy of this sail since around January of this year and have used it extensively for training and local fleet sailing and after almost 9 months of use, in San Francisco Bay conditions, the sail is holding up quite nicely. So, big check mark on durability as far as I'm concerned.

    Several Olympic level sailors have commented quite favorably on this sail. To first order it satisfies the requirement of not changing the game. However, while the sailors have not detected any changes to the downwind game (the sail looks and sets almost identically on the runs as to current sail), it does appear to be much more "adjustable" upwind. Current testing has not shown any definitive speed gain upwind, but the feeling is that over time it may become slightly faster as sailors learn how to adjust it to varying conditions. One note about upwind performance, the design of the sail means the top twists open very nicely in puffs making it unnecessary to apply the significant boom vang loads in the top breeze conditions that we use now. Coupled with much lower loads on the cunningham, the sail should result in significant reductions in load on the mast, hopefully reducing permanent bend issues if we ultimately stay with aluminum spars.

    The testing of the sail is not secret. For example, anyone sailing on San Francisco Bay, particularly along the City Front, has seen the sail (and some have used it). In addition to here, I know the sail has been used in fleet races in Australia, in England and, I believe, also in Japan. At this point I would think that a good number of TLF readers should have seen the sail and could comment so am surprised to not see more information from them in this thread.

    Will the sail be introduced and when? As they say, this is the $64,000,000 question and here I can only offer my unofficial opinion by saying that I believe the sail will be introduced... but... unfortunately, I can't offer what a possible timeline for introduction looks like. And even if I was king of Laserdom, and decreed we move forward today, there are still several "external" factors that must first be dealt with. For example, there is the need for ISAF approval and, yes, this includes consideration of the 2012 Olympics. While 99.99% of us don't care about the Olympics in terms of our sailing of Lasers, it turns out we do need to consider the ramifications - in particular since a very large number of countries use various major Laser events (e.g. continental championships) as part of their qualification process. At this stage, Olympic level sailors, given their high level of training, will be reluctant to see the equipment change with the Olympics so close and will want the current Standard sail used in 2012. The conundrum is that those possible Olympic sailors would then also want the current Standard sail to be the only sail in any potential qualification event, while other competitors (like me) would want to switch entirely to the new sail. Anyway, just one example of some of the issues that need to be dealt with. I'll end this by offering that all effort is being made, certainly on my part, to introduce this sail and do it as soon as possible.

    Finally, I want to emphasize that the entire project is the result of an initiative from the Laser Class, emanating from the Laser Class membership and pushed to the builders through the Technical and Measurement Committee. While calls have been made for improvements for a very long time, earnest work towards a new sail resulted from the TMC meeting in Roses in the late Summer of 2007. Its taken a long time to get to here, the process is not complete, but during the entire process ILCA has been pushing this as something its members want.
     
  4. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Thanks for the update Tracy, appreciate it even if it's not what everyone wants to hear.

    Any word on the existing sailmakers, ie North no longer producing for LP and and/or a replacement ?
     
  5. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    As I type this, North and Hyde are the two manufacturers for the current Standard sail, so no changes there. I have no insight into why LP appears to be preferring Hyde at the moment, other than to offer that they have had a long-standing relationship with Hyde for a number of years (through PSE).
     
  6. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Yes Tracy, thank you for the update.

    A few things I would like to comment on.

    1) As far as "changing the game", a new sail of ANY kind is going to cause a minor hiccup in the one design aspect of the game for a year or two. This needs to be viewed in light of how the knock-off sail is currently "changing the game". Using my previous analogy, I would quantify this as food poisoning vs. a hiccup.

    2) In terms of the Olympics, it seems to me they could introduce the new sail in two phases. Olympic-oriented events would keep the current design through 2012, but for everyone else the change could occur sooner.

    3) All the people involved in changing the design, outside of the builder, are volunteers. They are as frusted as the rest of us with the sail situation, but want to make sure any change is done right.
     
  7. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Many thanks for the update.

    The Olympics is already costing us in the UK a fortune - and I do not appreciate having to keep spending more on my sails because the ISAF want to delay major improvements until after some event a few elite sailors want to play in has passed.

    The way the very high costs of the olympics has been "sold" to us suckers paying for it is how it will encourage people to start sport. So ironic that significant improvements/major cost reductions in participating are actually likely to be delayed because of this same event. There is more to sport than the elite few who play at Olympics. In Lasers there are many many more people struggling to afford Lasers. The knock-offs are making massive inroads and destroying the class yet it appears the ISAF may make a bad situation worse for us all because of something irrelevant to those who sail Lasers at club/regatta level.

    How will those elite sailors feel when they turn up at a club and everybody will know they are the cause of us all spending vast sums of rubbish sails - so he/she can play at some elite competition in a few years time. So say that anybody wanting to qualify has to use old sails and the selection is based on those registering as wanting to qualify and using old sails. Problem solved.

    Was the class membership ever asked about the Laser becoming an Olympic class ? If no vote held and passed then I would say ignore the ISAF as being irrelevant to our class and let us try and restore the class rules without their hindrance.

    Whilst it is nice to have a new sail 110% perfect, the current sail is doing the class so much damage (one-design gone out of the window already), getting it out sooner yet not 110% right can be more important than verifying and testing for 10 years (by which time the class will be dead).

    I must confess that whilst it is good news that something is happening, the timescales inspire me to start looking for a Solo this winter. I love my Laser but there are so few on the water these days (so many knock-off sails) and I am fed-up with sailing against boats that are not Lasers, not handicapped, etc.

    Ian
     
  8. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    Wouldn't it take time for those people to want to buy new sails anyway? If they spent the money on a replica what would make them want to spend the money on a new sail when the cost is significantly higher anyway?

    Plus if they do something soon they won't be making enough sails to satisfy the demand. Look a the blades, they only make enough for new boats and nothing else. What is to say that LP does that with sails? I'd wait so they create a big enough supply to handle what would happen when this goes public.
     
  9. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    It's a continuous process, people buying new sails all the time. At the moment many have replica sails and the number is increasing as more class legal sails wear out and more clubs allow knock-offs. The movement is only happening class legal to knock-off. Few people are buying a class legal sail when their knock-off wears out.

    Thus, the sooner a class legal decent sail is available the sooner those replacing their existing sails will opt for class legal. If the price/longevity is reasonable then hopefully we will start seeing clubs saying "no new knock-off sails" (i.e. stick with those you already have but no new 3rd party sails - which will start the gradual move back to a one design class. Hopefully when a knock-off wears out people will switch back to class legal because it is now a reasonable option.

    The longer the current situation lasts the fewer class legal sails around, the more entrenched the "anything goes" principles become and the harder it is to move back to being a one design.

    Hence the time is important and the sooner the better. Hopefully a return to one design is possible otherwise the class is deal.

    The initial supply issues are always going to be there whenever the sail is released. No manufacturer is going to build up massive stocks sitting in a warehouse for a long time.

    (in my opinion)

    Ian
     
  10. TonyB

    TonyB Member

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    Tracy - thanks for the update, and for the major role you've played in driving this change for the last few years. Very much appreciated.

    A question if you don't mind. What's the best way for the grassroots sailors to positively influence the process from here on? For example, are there particular people or groups we can individually email to campaign for the change to happen sooner rather than later, at the ILCA or the ISAF level?

    I don't really understand why the Olympic level sailors would want to defer the new sail until after 2012. It's not like introducing the sail would unfairly advantage some of them. They would all be in the same boat (no pun intended) so would all have an equal chance to adapt to the new sail and learn its nuances. There might not be gain for them in making the change now, but there isn't really any loss either. It might seem obvious, but have these elite sailors actually been surveyed about it?

    Personally, I'm not that unhappy with the current sail and I don't really mind whether the change happens now or in two years. I would like some certainty about it though. If nothing else, I'd like to know whether it's worth buying a new sail from the US now, while the AUS to US currency exchange rate is so healthy!
     
  11. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Funny, I was just thinking that we in the US are going to have to figure out how to get sails from AUS....
     
  12. TonyB

    TonyB Member

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    A bit off topic, but in this part of the world the class is going well, it's just the standard rig fleet that is dying. It's not attributable to the sail though.

    We get three or or more four times as many radials as standard rigs at regattas now, and as many 4.7s as standards. The 4.7s are trending up, and the standards keep dropping. In my first district championship close to 20 years ago, we had over 60 full rigs racing. This year we had 9. In the same time, the radial fleet has gone from half a dozen up to 40-50 boats, and the 4.7s have come on the scene.

    If this sort of pattern is repeating around the world, it might show why fixing the standard sail might be a lower priority for the builders and the class.
     
  13. TonyB

    TonyB Member

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    We're paying about AUS$920 for a North sail with numbers at the moment, which at the current exchange rate is about US$880. Hydes are $100 more. Being able to ship a sail with numbers from the US for AUS$600 or so is a pretty attractive proposition...
     
  14. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    The sails are cheaper yet from the UK, particularly if there is a way of reducing the freight costs. My next one will is likely to come from the UK, hand carried by a mate (business trip) and VAT claimed back. Although the way our dollar is climbing against the USD, it might be another from the US.

    Thanks for the update Tracy. I suspect most of the Olympic hopefulls wouldn't be upset over the sail change in the lead up to the Olympics but more reluctance from the officials, particularly with respect to potential legal challenges, so in my opinion the sooner the change occurs, the better.
     
  15. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Only problem is no more North's avail in US (or UK).. Looks like only PSA is buying North sails at this time
     
  16. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    The majority of Australians and Kiwis prefer the Hyde sails, I suspect the sales of North Sails is pretty small and as a result orders are infrequent, so PSA would be supplying what they have in stock.
     
  17. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    UK looks like the place to go. I don't think the North American sailors have realized it yet, but our sail price just went up another $100 or so (for those who were buying North) and it's now going to cost ~ $650
     
  18. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I may be wrong about this but I will post it anyway.

    I think Tracy has done more to promote and manage the laser game in North America this year than the entire sum of those who have a financial interest in building lasers and selling them in North America.

    Having expressed that opinion I will follow:

    Until the builders invest in and put forth a sufficient effort such that Volunteer boat owner hobbyist Tracy's efforts are but a fraction of that which is performed by the paid builder promotional team...

    The sales of the laser product will languish and our game will continue to suffer the consequences of having no real builder support.
     
  19. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    Does anyone have any numbers on how many knock-off sails versus class legal sails are being used around the world? How big a problem is it really? Is the problem widespread or is it just a big problem in some fleets and not an issue in others?
     
  20. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    The grass is always greener...

    Thanks for taking the time to inform the community and to inform in detail, Tracy. I especially like the parts about the leech in strong winds and about lesser loads required to depower. Something to look forward to.

    The introduction will probably depend much on stock too, don't you think? Wouldn't the builder like to clear the old stocks before introcuding the new design because he will hardly sell old ones once the new ones are up for sale?

    I hope the builder will consider competitive pricing. If the new design is considerably more expensive than the old one it will hardly solve the problem of the replicas; we would probably only see different replicas.

    As to the growth or decline of the class: the participation at the Worlds was a pretty impressiv show of broad international interest in the class, I think.
     

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