Boat supply Open Letter

We can safely say that 'Laser' brought sailing to the masses, crowned with Olympic appearances. It's relatively easy to learn to sail, start competing and within a few years, you can be at the helm of your own Laser. How different was it with my pride-and-joy: the Star. The Sailing Club had bought a few of these and we were able to 'take it for a spin around the lake'. Only the happy few were able to finance an Olympic campaign. Virtually no-one was able to afford a Star! I pre-mentioned the Vaurien: my wife started sailing them at the University. Even a 'common' boat like a Vaurien was too expensive and you always needed another crew member. Final example: a new Finn with its 3K euros mast(!) is out of the question for most people. That narrows the string of boats available for most people.

Even today, the Dutch Yachting Association owns the 49'ers. 29'ers are mostly bought by the parents of the young sailors, often using an LTD for tax reasons... Only the Optimist and the Laser are affordable boats. (A Wazzp will set you back at least 13K euros..., excl the road trailer...).

The Aero has -in essence- the same 'masses' appeal as the Laser. It's even more modern and lighter, thus perhaps even more appealing! On the other hand, a warning, though... did the O'pen Bic pick up as a replacement for the 4.7? No. Most youngsters look upon an O'pen Bic with a certain 'disdain' and "'s Tupperware with a sail!" Despite the more modern look and feel of that boat.

The single most interesting feature of the Aero isn't mentioned yet! The ideal crew weight for the full-rig Aero is between 85 - 90 kg (correct me when I'm wrong). That's 5 kg heavier than the Laser Standard. I guess that the full-rig Aero will lure men away from the now obsolete Finn! So we have a new boat AND we can satisfy Finn sailors. I would not be surprised when these arguments in favour of the Aero will be this 'one stone, two birds' opinion and this the opinion that tips the scale.

Back to the subject of this topic: it will get harder to find new builders when the decision will be postponed toward the end of the year. Even a 'seasoned' boat builder needs to start from scratch: templates, test-runs with freshly built boats that are out of tolerances, etc. It will cost more than an arm and a leg. People praise the Aus builder for 'having people on the job who know everything about the Laser'; that's what builds better boats. New builders will not have that expertise. It takes a while before they are at the same level!



Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Moths, Mirrors, and a host of other domestic classes were affordable before the Laser arrived on the scene. They were the mainstay of the masses. Dinghy sailing at least in my region has virtually died in the 50 years with most clubs with 20-25% of the number of members or boats on the water.
Not here in The Netherlands. The size of the country, combined with a lot of safe lakes have sprouted tons of sailing clubs. Often a combination of a rowing club and sailing club. Most over 100 years old. The size (and depth) of the lakes hinder larger yachts, so a lot of member sail relative small boats. Dutch boat builders started building boats in the 20s (wood), plywood in the late 30s and beyond and GPR since the 60s or so. The moth and mirror never caught on. There are big players with big name yachts, but those are mostly concentrated near the coast or near large lakes with a direct connection to the sea - often through locks; we have 'm to prevent that the country will flood...

The size of the country makes that younger kids with sailing ambitions run into (old) Olympians quite often. People like PJ Postma (Finn) is often around the dinghy park, talking to kids and having fun with them*) Same goes for the fact that big names like Margriet Matthijsse (Olympic and WC medals between the mid 90s and beyond) is always on the water coaching young kids or adolescents. These role models sailed dinghies and that inspires kids.

The presence of a well-functioning company like Sailcenter helps a lot as well. All is available off the shelf. And they listen to customers.When one of us 'invents' something, they're willing to try it and sell it as an innovation.

*) my son once sailed against PJ and won. PJ came up to him and said: "You're fast mate!" When a big name says that to a 14 y/o... well, that's one big boost!


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
You do realise that the Europe Dinghy is the old European Moth, before the class was merged with amended rules to form the International Moth. Some wanted to continue sailing the pre merger Moth and it was renamed the Europe Dinghy.