The class IS listening

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by 49208, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Do any of you actually believe supplying sails for the Laser is a large production problem??

    You need sewing machines, operators, cloth, thread, a little webbing and two grommets.

    Among the available places where such items could be built??

    Hint:
    Where do clothes come from??

    or enough tents to put them in every Walmart, Sears, JC Penny.

    Worried about tricky stitching?? Look at those $100 powerboat covers in all the sporting goods stores. They could make Laser sails for lots less than those complicated covers, or tents, or blue jeans.

    There are factories all over the world where you could walk in carrying a sample Laser sail and come away with a quote for production to designed standards.

    Around here sailors earn their money creating computer chips with tolerances measured in billionths of inches.

    The Laser sails, and sails generally, are so simple to manufacture it is laughable how anyone can seriously try to act as though there is something difficult about delivering a properly performing, inexpensive, and durable product.

    The only reason we have crappy Laser sails is we keep buying the very profitable product that is being sold.

    As long as we as consumers regulate ourselves and force ourselves to buy the "builder supplied" sails. The builders will take full advantage of the opportunity to feed their families with our money.

    The class is listening...

    to the builders
     
  2. Jon Hammond

    Jon Hammond New Member

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    The class is listening...

    to the builders

    Only if we're (as the sailors) not class members, the higher membership levels the greater the voice we (the sailors) have. So great efforts should be undertaken to get ALL Laser sailors to join the class Association, then we (the sailors) can say "we don't like this, do something about it".

    As it happens the builders are doing something about it.....the Association needs to catch up!
     
  3. LooserLu

    LooserLu LooserLu

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    Hi
    Sorry, you haven't understand what I wan't to express. There ARE issues between sailors about the 2 xd-vangs, perhaps you haven't heard about such issues. However, of course any good industry for sailing equipement is able to build xd-vangs, also Holt (former "HoltAllen").

    If one decides to allow more than 1 producer, immediately the discussions and comparings start between the sailors. F.e. one see it with: the endless "Hyde vs. North Sail" issue; upper mastsegment of PSA vs. LaserPerformance; actualy the yellow foils aganist the originally white foils; Harken ratchet block vs. all other ratchet blocks; Laser hulls of LaserPerformance/USA vs. LaserPerformance Europe vs. PSA vs. Performance Sailcraft Japan; Carbon tiller Rooster vs. Carbon tiller "Kiwi" vs. ACME Carbon tiller vs. original builder supplied XD-Carbontiller; Hikingstrap Zhik vs other hikingstraps, Rooster Mainsheet vs. Bzzz Mainsheet; etc. etc. etc. etc.

    To the otherside: If there would be only one momopoly producer/supplier for ALL Laserparts, we the sailors, soon are sold to it and the price for Laser and her equipment rises up to endles dimensions... (F.e.: The XD-"deck base plate" for the cleats of the control lines, made out of 0,50 $ of plastic)

    To the otherside: Playing the game "Laser sailing" means: all boats have to be in that way "the same", that all equipment that makes the boat go fast, has to be the same. This thought is going to be lost definitely, if one allowes more than the both ILCA-licensed-sailmakers we already have, to produce the sail for the Laser. Also, the "builders manual" (the QM-bible how a Laser should be exact produced) has to be changed for that, I am afraid. I don't belive, there's a majority under the electors, that do realisticly vote for such a fundamental change. It would be the end of the unique "One design"-Laser is my opinion.

    Ciao
    LooserLu
     
  4. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    How come you are so well informed about the interests of sail makers world wide? I would expect many would compete for the privilege of being the or one of the ILCA-approved sail makers. At least the ILCA could ask.

    I would expect that with the market that ILCA controls some people and enterprises would probably build a loft just to become a supplier. Where in the business world can you buy a monopoly? Getting that contract is a pretty good basis for a major investment.

    I was not aware of important technical differences between the "replica" sails and the "official" North and Hyde sails. I have never used a replica. However, even if there was a major difference, that wouldn't mean a competitor or these competitors could not make a better sail cheaper. This is not a sophisticated product. It is one of the simplest sails on the market.

    The point here is that the ILCA Technical and Measurement Committee should work for our interests and for our interests only. The fact that they are negotiating with only two companies does not together with that mission in my mind . What would be the down side for the class of an international invitation to bid for the contract? I can't see one. What would the advantages be? Regardless of the outcome, the class would get an idea what a sail really is worth. The sails could be supplied in a better quality and perhaps much, much cheaper. Apparently many here think so. Because: how come the replicas are so much cheaper? The seem to make a slightly different product, but is it really inferior?

    What I know is that my brother can buy a one-off custum made sail for his 20 foot day sailor twice the size of a laser sail, made from much heavier cloth, from several sources for pretty much the price of a laser sail.

    Also the class could weigh enviromental and other political implications for the different offers. In view of rising oil prices and transportation costs (in the long run) a Polish builder could maybe be the ideal candidate for European sailors because one could expect stable prices for some time.

    Quality will generally be an issue with any supplier. In that respect, I don't see that the current builders have set standards that others couldn't reach or even pass.

    I'm starting to sound like Gouvernail (and am spending way too much time away from work too typing this) and that's probably because he's right.
     
  5. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    I think you need to find out what the costs and profit are for the sailmaker before you make that statement - Lets take an educated guess and say costs are between $80-$100 and the profit is $30-$50 times the number of sails per year (let's say 8000 total divided by two sailmakers) I'll let you do the rest of the math and then tell us again how that would be a good business decision to build build a loft or even make a major investment.

    ---snip---
    1. ILCA Technical and Measurement Committee do NOT do any negotiating with the suppliers - they have little to no say in who the suppliers are - that is all controlled by the Builder.
    2. The class (you, me and everyone else) already has an idea of what the sail is really worth and a pretty good idea of what it costs..
    3. The sails are NOT going to be supplied to the builder any cheaper then what they are right now (If they were, don't you think the builder would have either switched sailmakers or demanded the contract price go down?)
    4. We have beaten to death the reason the replicas are so much cheaper. It has nothing to due with the costs to produce the sail. It has everything to do with how the sail is sold and by whom.

    The reason for this is #4 above.


    As members of the class we can scream and jump up and down demanding the longevity of the sail be increased and hope and pray they listen and respond (and it sounds like they are trying), but the only way we can ever change the pricing of the class approved sail is to stop buying it at prices we think are too high.
     
  6. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    While people do discuss the differences, most of what you mentioned are parts that make no speed differences like hiking straps, tillers, blocks, they are one of the few things that you have a choice of putting in the boat.

    When it comes to the hulls, spars, and sails, they are only different in each area, there is no competition between builders, they each make the boat to spec. You cannot have a single builder and send boats or spars around the world, it is not financially feasible. There aren't many people importing hulls from the UK, spars from Australia, etc (there could be but it's not something all laser sailors do). Sails are the only thing that break this idea.

    The new foils I'm really curious about though, only time will tell with those.
     
  7. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    I'm sorry. I don't get it. What exactly is the ILCA Technical and Measurement Committee there for? Why is the committee discussing this issue if they do not have any influence on the class rules re. sails? Why couldn't they propose to amend or change the laser class rules so that certain sail makers and/or designs are allowed - just like in about any other class, where not the builders but only the specs are dictated by class rules? Let aside the pros and cons here of having a new sail maker, more than two or different designs for the moment. Is it the builder ruling the class or is it the class?

    If it's the builder who dictates techincal standards, then what's this committee there for?
     
  8. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    My point was not particularly clearly stated above...

    The following is the brutally cynical version but it not all that far from the truth:



    The Class could decide AT ANY TIME to approve any sails or equipment it chooses to consider legal for racing.

    the class has decided...repeatedly for over 30 years...that the builders have the best interest of the game of laser sailing in mind as well as the bottom line of the builders.

    The builders have decided the class wants to help sell more boats and therefore is an entity worth supporting.

    The sailors don't give a rats patootie and just do whatever is simplest to get out on the water and play.


    Some of you are under the very mistaken impression that the Class is your class and your tool to use for making your laser racing game into a bigger better more well organized game.

    The class is no such thing. The class is simply a tool of the builders and class officers which does what those involved think is appropriate.

    The Class provides employment and puts food on the table for a few employees as well.


    The builders control the class by using the pocketbook and use of tactics related to "what might happen if we change anything."

    The officers control the class buy doing the work necessary to accomplish whatever it is they want to accomplish.

    The sailors who are not active NA Class officers have ZERO say and ZERO input and mean nothing but membership dollars to the class....well maybe a little biut sometimes but mostly, " you don't understand the full complexity of the issues."

    If an individual member threatens to quit, the response from the class relates to how tiny the profit is on any individual member and what a waste of time it is to worry about one member. It is better you leave then be a seed from which a group of disgruntled sailors grows.

    Members are not "sailors," "family," "friends," or "valued individuals." Members are a couple bucks, another reason to charge more money for advertising space, and a burden.

    The class office has nothing to do with sailing. The class office is a publication company that sells advertising and subscriptions for a magazine. It happens they do a small amount of management of the laser sailing game but only that minimal management necessary to sell advertising and publish the magazine.

    The "membership" you purchase annually has nothing what so ever with a consumer advocate group or anything of the sort. The Class does not perform that function.

    The membership is purely and simply a magazine subscription and those who publish the magazine will not publish your scores in the events they publicize if you fail to buy a subscription.

    Internationally, the class has a main publishing office that also runs a couple big regattas for subscribers only. As part of hosting those regattas involves using new boats from the builders, the relationship between the builders and the international publishing house is quite tight.

    I am in no way attempting to say bad things about the business men and women who are involved with the laser Class and builder businesses. I am trying to cynically tell you like it is.

    Certainly, when I ran the NA office I attempted to also serve as a sailor advocacy organization, information central for all laser sailing, and cheerleader for the game but I knew consumer advocacy was a dangerous path where I would rapidly make enemies of those who thought I was bought and paid for.

    My contract said "maintain a soilid relationship with the builders." It did not say act as a go between or consumer advocate. The Laser class has always assumed the builder is on our side and knows that the best product will sell the most boats and make both our game and the builder's bottom line wonderful.

    Usually, the builders know they will sell more boats if the boats are perceived as a great value. As quality and value tend to compliment each other, the builder's bottom line has usually caused the builders to produce the best product they can manage to produce.

    The sails are a very different animal. Crappy throw away sails cause sailors to visit dealerships and mail order companies and replacement sail selling is a huge source of revenue for the builders and the entire distribution system for the laser toy.

    ISAF even gets a cut. If Laser sails lasted twenty years, ISAF would lose millions of dollars in revenue.

    So, there is NO current organization whos interestes would cause it to say, "If you don't produce bettter sails we will offer the "class approved" emblem to anyone who builds according to our specifications."

    Nobody in the class or builder food chain has any reason to serve the sailors a better sail.


    The above is cynical but a lot closer to the truth than anybody in the class or builder food chain might want us to undertsand

    My point it simply...There is no "sailor managed and driven laser Class." No one in the current class is interested in telling the builders, "Either you start building top quality sails or we will offer the "approved for laser racing" ISAF buttons to whoever supplies sails that meet our specifications."


    The builders do know about forums like this one. If we constantly harp about the crappy sails and the builders actually fear sales will suffer ...The builders WILL listen.

    and if while listening the builders come to the conclusion they will make more money by supplying better sails, we shall be seeing better sails.
     
  9. IntensitySails

    IntensitySails Member

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    It sounds like you have a sail from our first batch. Our thread tension was off on the foot. This has been corrected in all other sails. Our quality control has kept our consistency for t past 3 years after the first batches corrections. We build sails now in 100 piece batches and are able to increase production as needed. Our firmer cloth is the cause of the difference in cunningham tensions. It provides longevity so we go with it. In my personal sailing I have always found our sails to sail level with the class legal sails. I have always sailed to my level with no advantage or disadvantage coming from the sail.

    BTW please contact me so we can swap out the sail with the bad foot.
     
  10. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    On the issue of appropriate companies who might manufacture Laser Sails, maybe one aspect is stability/longevity of the company itself. I assume the process of establishing a new supplier is time consuming (checking their sails comply, trialing them, checking they give no advantage, etc.). Thus it is not something you (the class) want to be repeating on a regular basis. I would expect this would limit potential manufacturers. In many market places, low cost suppliers are often working on low margins and thus can be more suceptible to downturns in the market place. Those companies who operate on higher margins can be more resiliant. Thus I can understand a tendency for the class to stick with the "higher cost" suppliers.

    (Not that I like paying high prices but ) Maybe just an aspect to the supplier selection process.

    Ian
     
  11. IntensitySails

    IntensitySails Member

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    If I am understanding your logic correctly, then Sharper Image (in bankruptcy for the 2nd time) would be a favored supplier over Walmart (thriving in the downturn)
     
  12. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    You guys keep mentioning the Class with respect to sail supplier selection. The CLASS has NOTHING to do with sail supplier selection.
    The class also has no input on resin suppliers, fibreglass suppliers, gelcoat suppliers, extrusion suppliers, parts suppliers, lines suppliers, and my favorite thing to complain about...
    the builders tendency to change the drain plug every few months so we cannot find spare plugs without purchasing the entire overpriced assembly.

    If any of you is interested in forming a Laser Consumer advocacy orgnization or even a United States Laser class association whose mission is to serve as the national authority for the laser game, manage and help grow the game of Laser sailing, and whose stated mission includes consumer advocacy I would be one of the first to send dues.

    The USA is home to the largest group of Laser sailors on the planet and is the only large country with no national Laser Class association.
    The anachronism called the NA Laser Class was founded before anyone had any idea the Laser would become an internationally sailed boat or be used as a piece of equipment for Olympic contests.
    If sailors want to form an organization whose mission is to support and grow the game and to actually stand up to the builders and refuse to provide "class legal" stickers for unsatisfactory equipment, we could take the game back from those who see Lasers and the game played on Lasers simply as a reliable source of income.

    A US Laser class could approve any sail it chooses to approve for US Laser class sanctioned events.
    International competition in the Laser is conducted in supplied boats. It doesn't matter what sails we use in our elimination series and it certainly does not matter is we all use Intensity, Sobstad, Ulmer, Hood, Elvstrom, Haarstick, Watts, Murphy and Nye, Bower, Scoville, Bartlett, Cameron, Bludworth, Morgan, or walmart sails for our regularly scheduled US races.

    All the US laser class association would have to do is organize under teh ILCA constitution, send its per member dues directly to the ILCA without wasting effort and funds on the publishing company called the North American Laser Class, and serve it mission as a tool of the sailors to enhance the game played by its members.

    What might matter is we find a way to allow the use of very good high quality sails for laser racing so we can purchase new sails with the knowledge that those sails are going to properly serve our needs for years rather than hours of use.

    Of course, almost nobody cares about this subject except for those who have their stake in the status quo...

    For over 30 years the Laser sailmakers, builders, and dealers have made money consistently and paid many bills by providing throw away sails to consumers who have willingly purchased those throw away sails.
    There are real jobs feeding real people whose existence would be threatened by formation of a real member oriented class association or by approval of a supplier whose sails are durable.

    If you think you can provide top quality sails to Laser sailors without being attacked by those whose wallets you will be threatening, you are foolish indeed.
     
  13. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    I'm sure you could quote many other examples - as could I. Bottom line is that I could quote more than you - because there are more. My point was not that EVERY company follows this trend but that it is reasonable to expect long standing companies with good margins and good balance sheets might weather out the vagaries of market conditions better than recent start-ups and/or those working on low margins.

    I was mentioning it as a general trend and not thinking about any companies specifically. I note from your username that you might have some involvement with a business with a "vested interest" - apologies if this is not the case.

    Ian
     
  14. Sail4SC

    Sail4SC Member

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    Excuse me... Can you tell me which Walmart I can go to buy my next sail? I'd like to put one on lay away for Christmas.. Thank you... :D
     
  15. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Realistically, walmart would never stock Laser sails. Not enough volume to justify any shelf space.
     
  16. LooserLu

    LooserLu LooserLu

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    Hi

    To say it more clear for you: If there's more than “1” producer for Laser parts (especially those parts that are important for boatspeed: Hull, Sail, Spars, Foils, nothing else), people never stop to compare those parts, to find out what producer makes the better part. It is a psychological aspect. I hope you do understand me ”er173716”?

    I don’t agree, or why did PSA now has yellow foils and former Vanguard Inc. uses “North sails” (Very former times we had Elvstroem/Toronto Sails worldwide only and then Harstick sails worldwide only).
    Now there is the trouble, we sail “Hyde” AND “North” worldwide. North sails are not forbidden to use at official races here where I live (Europe), too. But no Laser store officially is offering the cheaper North sails here, guess why (LaserPerformance would direct “shoot” the owner of that shop)
    Hull’s: Best hulls come from Japan, some say here. I would able to say why, but I don’t do that openly here.
    Upper Spars: Best came from PSA (now: LP and PSA now get the spars from the same producer, someone did mention here in 2008 at TLF).
    Foils: “Yellow” and “White” foils (btw: what, in the text of Laserworld, is the meaning of “Crompton” foils) are equal (shape flex weight), the “comparing”-trouble again now rises more and more, here where I live….

    I don’t agree. The market, per contract, has been devided between LaserPerformance, PSA und PS Japan. LaserPerformance IS the “global player” in this contract, PSA and PS Japan "only" deliver a small part of our globe, the full “rest” of our globe is served by LaserPerformance. It wouldn’t be difficult for LaserPerformance to deliver the Laser to complete globe, if the contract would be digged (and "vice versa" for PSA). I could tell more about that, but I don’t want to bore other readers of TLF here.

    …in reason, compared only to the hulls of former Vanguard, the UK hulls are “crap”….
    Also, The ILCA President, the ILCA executive officer and LaserPerformance would immediately going to shoot one, if one is not an especial for that permitted and authrorised Laser dealer and tries to export hulls / complete Lasers or spars of PSA for profit. The actually rumors, here where I live, tell a looooong story to this point. I don’t tell it open here, it is to sad what in 2008 LaserPerfomance did to one of our best active Laserites…. You wouldn’t believe it….

    Are you sure? I am not convinced by that what you tell, if I look, here at Europe, to the upper mast segments of PSA. One is able to see at official races here at Europe: A lot of those “high potential Laser competitors” has one of that spars of PSA (not all Laserites have one, correct. Reason: our Laserstores are not allowed to sell those upper mast segments of PSA here.).

    From that what I told above, not only the sails are “the only thing that break this idea”.

    To the foils: Haven’t you read the text correct? “Shape, flex, weight is the same”. There are only "psychological aspects" that make the new foils fast.


    Fazit for me:

    The dilemma is:
    If one only has “1” monopoly producer and this producer would only produce 1 equal model to all of us, one would serve the idea of “One design” best. But in reality such a producer would only plan to get all of our money.
    If there would be a de-regulated market for ALL Laserparts (also hulls foils, sails, spars) one loose the strict “One Design” more ansd more and would get various "different" boats and at every official Laser racing event the boats would have to be measured again.
    The exercise for the ILCA is to find a decent way between both of these aspects above. The actually ILCA president argues, the hearsay does say: “ “ILCA” is “ILCA” and “officially builder” is “officially builder”. “ILCA” has no force to dictate anything to the “officially builder”."
    Probalbly, in the moment, only at the Olympic races all Laser really are “equal", but I wouldn’t try to ask Devin Kelly (President of LaserPerformance) or the CEO of PSA, how much cost he had to produce only one of this unique Olympic-Lasers… (btw what happened to that Quindao Lasers? Does "Chinese Industries" are already take them as prototype for a cheap "Chinese Laser" :) )

    Now to officially allow replika sails to be used at officially racing events would be fine for our wallet, yes absolutely, but this would mean at every official racing event the sails have to be measured. There would sure to find Laseritets that definitely would like to protest out any sail that not follows the the classrules. This perhaps ends f.e. in such an issue like the Tornado Class at Quindao with new sails.

    Here where I live, most of the common racing Laserites not even buy a new sail in one or two years. The ability of sailing the Laser and personal knowlege of ow to race successfull more has influence to the position where to find himself/herself at the racing fleet, than the quality of the sail or the spar or the foil or the hull.
    I direct am able to give you an example as a proof of what I'm talking about:
    6 weeks ago, a friend of mine, a heavy-weight very-former Laser-pro, did race a Laser race here with a boat of 1979: 140 lbs weight of the hull, classic wooden Laser tiller, worn out 29 years old Harstick sail, no xd-controls (not even an adjustable outhaul or "a clew tie down"-strap/line), 1:3 classic vang.
    He did beat most of the competitors in reason he is a good sailor, although it was only the 3rd time he was on the water this year. He didn't beat the both very active Laserites with their new GXD-Lasers in front of him, at the final results, in reason at two light-wind races this both Laserites had the advantage of their low body weight.
    One not should lose the ground in our discussions compared to reallity I just have given an example to.

    Ciao
    LooserLu
     
  17. dyzzypyxxy

    dyzzypyxxy Member

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    Well, I'd agree they are listening. It's giving them ulcers and headaches and pain where they sit, but yeah, they're listening.

    Bottom line is, I agree with Fred, there's nothing the Class can do. The builders hold all the cards. They own the Laser trademark, and have the exclusive right to market everything for the Laser toy boat.

    Fred's also right that we could form a US Laser group, make our own rules and allow any brand of sail to be used in our US regattas (built to specs, of course). But . . . we're sailors and we just want to go race our Lasers, not get involved in petty politics, right?

    For all the years I served as a Class officer, I tried my damnedest to be the consumer advocate that the Class reps should be. Made myself E X T R E M E L Y unpopular with the builder, who viewed me alternately as a pain in the patootie or an outright threat to his profit margin.

    I'll never forget a wise fellow once sent me an e-mail saying "the more they try to slap you down, the more you should be convinced you're doing the right thing for the Class members"

    But it takes SO much energy to keep on spitting into the wind. Your elected Class reps are doing as much as they can, that is to convey the needs of the members to the builder, and to keep hammering away for changes, like a moth against a light bulb.

    I would pin my hopes right now on the economic downturn. If the builders think they can boost sales of sails this next year or two (while those of us without sponsors or wealthy parents scrape to buy anything discretionary) by introducing the new sail design, they'll do it.

    But don't look for a price reduction until everybody gets together and boycotts sail purchases for a year or two. (It's possible to herd cats, too) Lainie
     
  18. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

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    Thanks for the 'xplainin'.

    Bottom line is: we could if we wanted to. Apparently we don't. That's not cynical at all.

    Cynical in my eyes is when people here try to make us believe that the existing system, to rely on a monopoly, is in the sailors best interest.
     
  19. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    Interesting to know and (IMO) good customer service offering to replace a 2 year old sail FOC (aside from postage costs maybe). I agree here though that although the sail does trim slightly differently due to being made of a firmer cloth there really is no difference between that and genuine sail (aside from price).

    If only there was an importer of Intensity sails in the UK. There is someone who does this intermittently and sells them on Ebay. Most of the UK replicas are made of the same weight cloth as the class sails and dont have the lifespan on the Intensity.
     
  20. dyzzypyxxy

    dyzzypyxxy Member

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    One more trump card that the Class and builders hold is Olympic status. This is a prestigious thing that worldwide holds a lot of weight with Class officers.

    ISAF and IOC base the choice of Olympic classes upon some strict parameters, and opening up the rules to allow any brand of sail would compromise the "one design parameters" of the Laser in their narrow minds.

    There are those of us who think Olympic status has not enhanced the quality of the Class as it attracted the elite group of prima donnas who buy a new sail for every regatta, and are sponsored to sail full time. They are able to "buy" every advantage available to enhance their performance, which discourages the weekend sailor who shows up at a big regatta with virtually no chance of winning a trophy. But I digress . .

    The basic premise remains - the sails are poor quality and cost too much. Even if the new design is adopted, the cost of Class-legal sails is still an issue for most people. I still think limiting sail purchases is one step the Class could EASILY take to help level the playing field for the majority of Laser sailors. They propose it, then you have to VOTE for it.

    FYI a further aspect of Olympic status is that Olympic contenders tend to make the most noise to grab the attention of your Class reps, who tend to forget that they comprise less than 5% of their members. The sqeaky wheel gets the grease, so

    SQUEAK, PEOPLE! SQUEAK!
     

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