Replica Gear: Let's Get It All Out In The Open!!

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by ALJM, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    I am actually a member of two clubs (I sail different class fleets at each of the clubs). Although both sail Lasers, the one I was talking about has more and a better fleet and the membership cost each year is 10 times that of the other club (plus a bit more). Most people sailing Lasers there also have other boats, drive flashy cars, etc. so as with so many things in life it comes down to where you spend you money. Whilst I have no idea about their other financial commitments, many do have class legal sails as well but save them for more important races.

    Whilst I cannot say who can afford what, often when we "afford" is a choice - spend on one thing and we cannot spend (so much) on something else. I just wonder in practice how many dedicated Laser sailors would give-up for financial reasons were they to be forced to buy the more expensive class legal sails. By the time you add-up other maintenance, insurance, Class Assn. membership, club membership, car running costs to events/club a few times per week, personal gear, etc. for many the sail cost starts to become a lower percentage of your total sailing costs. And to give that up because you have to manage with a less than 100% sail for a bit longer may or may not have a massive impact on participation. I suspect it would have a lower impact than people fear - but have no evidence either way.

    What I was thinking about with the Class or somebody doing is where clubs have a Laser Open meeting (regatta), if their policy is to allow knock-offs then for whoever holds the trademarks copyright to tell them they cannot call their open meeting a "Laser". Similarly, where a club's Open Meeting (Regatta) is part of e.g. area championship/travellers series or something to let them know that next time their policy for allowing knock-offs will mean the event will be moved to an alternative club. Might not work and I don't really have other ideas (I'm sure somebody in the builders/class can have much better ideas than me).

    Ian
     
  2. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    Paragraph 1 I think we will have to agree to disagree. I know of several people who have left the class for other classes because they could not afford to stay competitive where in other classes (where the sails last a lot longer) they are happier.

    My approximate annual spend on sailing (including travel costs and club dues, not including sails) is around £600-£700. To add 1 new genuine sail would push this to around £1100, a significant increase I think you would agree. Whereas if I used a replica for my club racing and keep my genuine sail for the club open event (this is the only class regatta I generally attend) the cost would only increase to a maximum of £850. Show me anyone who will willing pay £250 more than they need to for something and I will happily call them a fool.

    The club I am in allows the use of replica/practice/training sails for club racing. We have done this the 'legal' way by creating a 'Laser Type' local class (this is perfectly legal within the RRS). The Class has identical rules to that of the International Laser (again nothing wrong with that) with the exception that replica parts are allowed as long as they are a direct replacement for the original and offer no performance advantage. The Laser class captain/sailing committee have the final say so if a specific part/brand of sail is allowed.

    I think we should steer away from calling the replica/training/practice sails 'knock offs'. This implies they are pretending to be a genuine sail, which they are plainly not.

    For the club Laser open event ALL boats must comply with Laser class rules (i.e. no replica parts allowed). After all it is an event for the Laser class not for the local 'Laser Type' class.

    This thread is centering around sails. There are other replica parts available out there (I have seen spars, foils, rudder stocks etc..). In my opinion whilst these are available I would never use them. With these parts they are not a consumable item and can be refurbished when required. With a sail once it is old/blown out it is useless, therefore we could class this as a disposable item.
     
  3. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    I pose the question, if the Laser Class changed cloth to a more modern and stable cloth, with the benefits of both being slightly cheaper and being significantly more durable, would people use the replica sails? That is, if the authentic sails were as durable as the replicas, would people purchase the more expensive but class legal sail which can be used everywhere, rather than a sail that can only be used in very restricted circumstances. While such a change might not eliminate the replica sail market, it might put a significant dent into that market and potentially restore the second hand sail market in the North American and UK regions.

    I think people should realize that that the replica parts issue is restricted to certain regions, they are not common in the Australian or New Zealand region. In our region we're very dependent and strongly support or dealer network, because they support the class association well (along with the builder). Most of us rely on the dealers for trading in our boats and they also will encourage trading in our older sails, because of the strength of the second hand boat and equipment markets. Very little is sold privately.
     
  4. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    it's a vlue and profit thing.

    When teh sailors ae convinced there is a value in buying the more expensive but "class approved" sail....the sailors will buy that sail

    When the builders believe there is more profit to be made in winning the "we make the most valuble sail" competition, they will work to to win that contest.

    My belief??

    Nither the builders nor the sailors ar willing to do the things necessary to get what they want.

    1. If the builders want to flush away the other sailmakers, those builders can subsidize production, market higher quality and lower price sails than any competitor, and win those price and quality wars any thime they decide to do so.

    2. If the sailors want to force the availability of top notch and possibly even less expensive and more consisteltly built sails, less expensive sails, the sailors could decide at any time to approve another supplier for their racing equipment.

    As it is, neither side is sufficiently driven to act.
     
  5. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    You hit the nail on the head with you first comment Gouv.

    As for point 2 it was my understanding that the class has very little say in who supplies the equipment (this came from the springs and rings dicsussion some time back).
     
  6. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    I suspect that the longer the current situation continues, should the builders do as you hypothesise, the harder it will be for them to push out the knock-offs. I have the impression that a lot of clubs now allow knock-offs for club racing (in the UK) and quite a few people use them all the time. Once a club has made such a policy, were class legal sails to improve it would still be hard for that club to reverse it's policy. Thus the longer the current situation continues, the more clubs will switch to allowing knock-offs and the more entrenched their use will become.

    Ian
     
  7. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    I'll again repeat because people still haven't worked it out, sail specifications (tolerances) has absolutely nothing to do with the licensed builders or licensed sailmakers, they merely need to chose a cloth that fits within those tolerances following the guidelines set for the construction. The ILCA technical committee is the one that specifies the properties of the sail cloths that can be used.

    It's the sailmakers, builders, and to some extent the dealers who determine what the retail price is for the sails. The ILCA and national district or regional associations have no input the price setting.

    The current specifications set for sailcloth and the construction of the sail is substandard with what's normal these days, this is something the ILCA technical committee needs to address. The cost of sails is something which the builders, along with the sailmakers and dealers need to address. The two problems are virtually mutually exclusive.
     
  8. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Alan, thank you. This is the best sort out of the issues that I have seen.

    It makes me wonder if Intensity sails are actually replicas. Are the cloth properties, weight, and resin coating within tolerances set by the ILCA technical committee? I would think not with its different weight and feel, and it takes some practice to work out how to shape one, compared to a legal sail.
     
  9. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    The question is how much influence does the Technical Committee have over the builder/supplier? My understanding is that they can only make a recommendation. The builder has the final say (once the other approval hoops have been jumped through).

    You are right though Alan the class members need to start driving this change. There is a lot of apathy though because the sail has been this way for so many years. I would not even know where to start and who to lobby. Perhaps 'thos in the know' could publiosh a list of the relevant people (not just say speak to you local national branch) and give a name.

    Perhaps even this thread could be used.....
     
  10. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    No, they are not within tolerance. If they were within tolerance, you'd only get one season usage from them.

    I know that protype new sails have been being tested for the last 12-18 months. Part of the problem is getting the sail right because it hasn't been changed for so long. Long term I think the technical committee should be moving to revue the sail every 4 or 8 years, making small changes, rather than a big single change we're expecting next time round because it's been 24-25 years since the standard sail was last altered. It's harder to get 1 big change right, than several small changes.
     
  11. BJ09

    BJ09 New Member

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    The sail design issue is also one of performance. The current sail was slowed down so it wouldn't obsolete the 3.2oz sails overnight. They could have made a better faster sail but choose to look after the existing sailors and their investments.

    Laser is not about building a faster boat, it is about building a whole bunch of boats the same speed.

    And Alan, replica's are an issue in Australia. I know of one district where most sailors have replica's and they are even used in the district championships.
     
  12. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    This might be a good opportunity to educate the class on how change occurs to the one-design aspects of Laser sailing.

    When the techical committe tackles a major rule change, such as a new sail, how do the class and the builders come into agreement? I would imagine it could be adveserial at times.
     
  13. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    I'll leave that question for Clive and Tracy. They're on the technical committee.
     
  14. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    This has been done before in other (admittedly much smaller) classes. The way to handle it would be to offer the 'new' sail at a signidicant discount for the first 12 months. This may tie in with a lot of people choosing to change their sail anyway. Yes their will be a transition period where there will be the 'haves' and 'have nots' but that will be relatively short lived. If the sail is kept the same size then the differences should be minimal.

    My 2p is on the Hyde design, admittedly a major departure from the current cut of sail but the North effort looks like it was done by an apprentice on his first day.

    Perhaps a bit more news floating around on the sail development program would not go amiss either....
     
  15. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Who has responsibility for the different aspects of the sail design, pricing, etc. is only one aspect to the current widespread (?) use of knock-offs. There is also an aspect about who can discourage their adoption/use. So whilst the class association might have nothing to do with pricing and whilst the builders might have nothing to do with the sail specifications, the different organisations can help discourage clubs from allowing use of these replica sails/equipment.

    Ian
     
  16. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    It is interesting to note that within the class there is a lot of experience of using the same sail design but with a heavier production sail cloth (i.e. the replca sails). Thus, if just switching to a heavier cloth made no difference then one would think the Technical Committee would be aware of this and minimal testing would be required. Thus, maybe the switch to a heavier cloth does make more of a difference that many think when looked at in more detail. I know a year or so ago one of the knock-off manufacturers who participate here made the claim on this forum that their sails were faster http://www.laserforum.org/showthread.php?t=7627&highlight=faster&page=2 (2nd post on page 2, point 6) - but when it was pointed out to them that this should cause their use to be banned by all they quickly withdrew the claimhttp://www.laserforum.org/showthread.php?t=7665&highlight=faster

    Ian
     
  17. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    This is a strange debate. Many contributions to main issue adressed by ALJM – whether or not we should have better and cheaper sails as class-legal sails – are completely beside the point.

    Many posts are even misleading, like BJ09’s on trademark rights. To the class it shouldn’t matter what trademark is used for marketing a class-legal sail; any or none could be used as far as we, the consumers, are concerned; the use of a trademark does not influence the characteristics of a sail or the class rules on equipment – unless the class rules state so, which should be an option up to debate here.

    It’s not about questioning the one-design principle of the class either. I haven’t read a single post here advocating a construction or measurement class, even for certain parts like sails only. Apparently there has been on single incident, in which somebody actually showed up to major event with a non-legal sail, one in a thousand. And we haven’t heard from him – or about him – whether or not he was even aware of that fact. So why the big fuss?

    It’s not about a one-builder-only policy either. There are two brands and at least two manufacturers currently producing the class-legal sail and nobody here is questioning that.

    It’s the product and it's price that’s being questioned.

    I believe the debate here, on the ILCA forum, should center around

    a. whether or not the class members are happy with the current situation

    and, if the answer is no,

    b. what we can do to improve the situation.

    The majority in this thread clearly is not completely happy with the current situation. Many comments show, that that feeling is wide-spread, beyond the members assembled here. People are buying non-class-legal sails in large numbers inspite of their obvious disadvantage of not being class legal, even if the race regularily. Many feel the sails currently sold as class legal are too expensive for what they are worth and that they do not last long enough.


    Therefore: what can we do about it?

    I believe the class should call on sail makers world wide, or a selection of them, to compete for the right to supply the class legal sail to the class. Give them the specs that we want, not only for the sail itself, but for the numbers and the distrubtion worldwide, and let them bid. Then chose the one who’s offer looks the most promising.

    That will probably not only depend on the price per sail but also on the reputation of the builder, their quality history, and their assumed ability to supply large numbers for a longer period of time throughout the world.

    Publish the bids, the decision and the reasons for the decision in detail.

    Why, Tracy, isn’t this the approach of the technical committee? Or is it?
     
  18. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    It's not the approach for the simple reason that the "class" (who or whatever you think that is) does not determine who supplies the sails, numbers and distribution.

    It's the builder's decision as to who supplies the sails, what the end user price is, and what the distribution method is.
     
  19. beaker

    beaker hi

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    Wahhh wahhh wahhh. Someone is making our stuff. Waahhh.

    I have two bitch's with the system.
    1-Everything else is being updated vang outhaul Cunningham and blocks even now with blades (STUPID decision) and no one was complaining about them nearly as much as the sail situation. Harken is the only upgrade manIsheet traveler block supplier so there's the monoply.
    2-And with North's sails being made in Shri Lanka it could not get further from a real sailmaker shop. Shri Lanka is off the coast of where? Oh yeah, CHINA!!!!!!

    So test and discover what knockoff guys already know. Use a more modern material and the same cut. Done.

    As far as the other parts well you have your stickers for that.
     
  20. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    LOL

    Sri Lanka is an Island on the eastern side of the southern tip of India.
     

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