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Olympic status

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
My opinion is probably old news, but the Olympics does a fair degree of damage to both Sailing and in particular Lasers. Lot's of money thrown in by governments, coaching the kids till they burn out and give up sailing for ever, just so that one or two outstanding prospects get the chance to compete for a medal. Sailing to me is more than chasing a medal, it's a lifetime activity. Other than sailing, there are few other Olympic sports where a back marker old or young in a club fleet, can turn up and race on the same course, starting side by side with the current world champion.

The old saying here is make a successful sailing class Olympic and watch it die and that is why the ILCA resisted becoming Olympic for 20+years.

At least in Australia the masters have largely given up going to open events IMO because of the playing field is no longer level because of the amount of coaching, support boats and fly ins to events that put nothing back into the clubs or associations.
 

torrid

Just sailing
All the documentation mentions "ILCA", but we all know the bogeyman in all of this is LP.

While I agree with what AlanD said, I wonder how movitated LP will be to continue cooperating with World Sailing and the ILCA if Olympic status is lost.
 

thieuster

Active Member
... and can these companies produce enough boats to make it a fair competition on the road to the Olympics? Everybody can get his/her hands on a Laser. The Melges and D-Zero on the other hand, are hardly seen here in Europe. (The Aero sometimes). A new boat and a 6 yrs 'route to Paris' project needs a lot of material & dealers.

Take the Nacra. Originally a US brand that went belly-up, bought by two Dutch guys who restarted the brand. The result? In general, a Nacra is an affordable boat, but not the 15 (youth boat leading to the Nacra 17) and the 17 itself! These are 3x the price of other Nacra models. Nacra puts tons of money in the project (N'15 sailors can use the boats for next to nothing, but despite being a Dutch brand now, hardly no Dutch youth sailor wants to sail the Nacra because it's becoming too expensive when they switch to the 17.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
All the documentation mentions "ILCA", but we all know the bogeyman in all of this is LP.
Exactly. None of this would be happening without LP's global dominance (93 % of WS member nations, if my count is right), and its incompetence in adequately serving that market. The whole territorial trademark monopoly system that's been in place since 1983 probably breaks all competition laws anyway. WS isn't against single-manufacturer classes per se, but the spirit (and letter) of these documents isn't exactly encouraging for operators like LP:
http://sailing.org/tools/documents/AntitrustPolicyFinalApproved-[23500].pdf
http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/EQReEvaluationInvitationToTenderFINALPublished-[24054].pdf (see 12.3)

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AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
I disagree that a monopoly exists. Anyone can make a single handed boat, a sail that suits etc, there is no monopoly in that sense. We have a self imposed monopoly that we decide to participate in competing in a class of sailing that we only permits equipment supplied by a limited number of suppliers world wide. We could just as easily compete in another class where there is a different supplier or multiple suppliers. It's like saying the Porsche has a monopoly in cars because you can only compete in the Porsche Carrera Cup in a Porsche Carrera, you could equally compete in an different class of motor racing with Ford, GM, BMW or some other manufacturer being the supplier of the equipment used.

A monopoly exist only where there is no alternative and the supplier controls the market, in sailing there are alternatives to the Laser.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
A monopoly exist only where there is no alternative and the supplier controls the market, in sailing there are alternatives to the Laser.
We're talking about the monopoly within the Laser class. Or rather, it's a set of regional monopolies, but the individual consumer is limited to one choice nevertheless. I have personally tried buying certain Australian parts (which at the time were fundamentally different to the European counterparts) and was refused!

Of course there are alternatives to the Laser... and WS is now taking a good look at a few of those.

Does anyone here have any experience with the "official alternatives"? Tillerman...? (He doesn't even sail a proper course anymore as he's become an aerobian.)

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thieuster

Active Member
Interesting reading here: Laser vs Aero vs Melges? That’s Not the Question

This thread made me search for answers and making a guess about the future. Interesting to see that some established Laser-names are busy choosing the Aero-lane along their long-time commitment with the Laser! Steve Cockerill (Rooster sailing) and GBR's Sam Whaley *) are two names that spring to mind.

Interesting is the position of the Dutch RS dealer: Aquavitesse in Bruinisse (another unpronounceable Dutch name, just call it 'Bru', as we do). Aquavitesse is originally a sailing school with a sideline of selling boats... Hardly the company that's capable of 'churning out' large numbers of Aeros in a short period. They simply lack the logistics! Things will change when e.g. their next-door neighbour, the Dutch Hallberg-Rassy dealer, will step in and takes over...

Then the D-Zero... Devoti (with one 'T') is also the Finn builder - has a big dealer network. The Dutch Devoti dealer is located 30 mins from my home and I tend to pay him a visit because they're Sandyline-dealer as well (Sandyline being a European sailing & kayak clothing brand). So I went there on Saturday, testing the water: "Do you have a D-Zero on display?" "Nope! We don't have any of these. There's no demand for that!" We discussed 2024 Olympics and there was serious head-scratching... "Dunno how we're going to deliver those boats, complete with the after-sales components!"

Laser has one dealer over here. And we're all annoyed by the fact that there's a monopoly. And their after sales is bad. So we try to buy stuff in the UK where things are cheaper. A carbon mast is about 15% cheaper in the UK. So various people (including myself...) hop over to the UK and we buy 8 - 10 masts in one go for sailors in the club or team. We chip in and the man/woman who's doing the trip has a 'no cost' trip (diesel, ferry etc). Same goes for sails. On the other hand, we have no shortage when it comes to parts, boats etc. Add to that the fact that over the last few years a lot of World Championships were held in Europe. The result of that is a large 'lake' of charter boats that are for sale now with a 10 - 30% discount.

Melges? Well, they're only sold through the Italian dealership! In short: not something Europeans like! We want a dealer nearby and not in another country. There aren't many Melges 14s around in Holland. Apart from that: when looking at the boat on the website, I can't help thinking about a Dutch dinghy 'Splash' with the same shaped bow. 80% of those Splash-es have had a 'nose job'. The slightest collision leads to a crack/chipped/leaking bow...

In short: when the Laser is ditched for another boat, things are not going to be easy journey on the road to 2024! For now, my money is on the Aero... (better start saving for a new boat!)

Menno

*) No matter what boat will be used in 2024. Remember Sam's name! I think he has a good chance of winning the Olympics for Team GBR in years to come. We met this summer, shook hands and had a little conversation. A really nice guy as well!
 

AlanD

Former ISAF Laser Measurer
We're talking about the monopoly within the Laser class. Or rather, it's a set of regional monopolies, but the individual consumer is limited to one choice nevertheless. I have personally tried buying certain Australian parts (which at the time were fundamentally different to the European counterparts) and was refused!
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Exclusive distribution rights which is what you're talking about are still excluded from the definition of monopolies. There are still alternatives to them. If anything, the builders, distributors and the ILCA act in a quasi cartel.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Interesting World Sailing Council decision (the annual WS meeting is going on this week in Florida): the proposed "mixed one-person" event is changed to an offshore event. 2018 Annual Conference - 2 November Recap

Nothing new about the Laser's Olympic status (it's still subject to "re-evaluation"), but the Finn is now effectively out... after nearly seventy years.

I would have chosen separate male/female events for the kiteboards instead of bringing keelboats back.

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So we have a "monopoly " with Laser, BUT they have several very active manufacturing plants around the world still producing several thousand Lasers a year! Is that a fact or fiction , I don't Know. If there is only one manfacture of Areo, M14, or Devoti is that a Monopoly?

Let replace a class with 200K boats with a single manufacturer in , Italy, or France or GB do they have other manufacturing sites? These classes cost 33-50% more than a new Laser and have built fewer that 3000 units, and have many field issues. Yes. I get the enthusiast for the Laser Loser.
And I, as One, Wish I could sail faster or get better parts .
A Laser Solution would be to certify new boat builders, who were certified and labeled for boats and parts and allow easy access of generic parts.
I would buy a Julian product in a minute,
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
So we have a "monopoly " with Laser, BUT they have several very active manufacturing plants around the world still producing several thousand Lasers a year! Is that a fact or fiction , I don't Know.
It's a fact that there are "several" (three) Laser builders producing "several" (about two) thousand boats/year, but it's also a fact that they all are regional monopolies, with one of them (LaserPerformance, in England) covering roughly 90 % of the global market.

If there is only one manfacture of Areo, M14, or Devoti is that a Monopoly?
They are all Single-Manufacturer One-Designs, sure, but there is all reason to believe that they are more than willing to adopt any WS-approved business model in exchange for Olympic status. That would likely include multiple more-or-less independent builders, and no regional restrictions on equipment sales. The big question is, is the Laser (ILCA and/or LP) willing to do the same?

Let replace a class with 200K boats with a single manufacturer in , Italy, or France or GB do they have other manufacturing sites?
Devoti has its headquarters in Brno in the Czech Republic and a plant in Poland. I don't know if the D-Zeros are actually built there or somewhere else; England would at least be closer to their current core market.
Melges is located in Zenda, Wisconsin. The M14 Olympic bid includes the Portuguese kayak manufacturer NELO and the well-known dinghy builder Mackay of New Zealand, so they already have a global builders' network of sorts in place.
RS Sailing is headquartered near Southampton, England, but the boats (including the Aero) are probably built somewhere else. I think they tried building in Thailand for a while, but returned closer to home for better quality control.

These classes cost 33-50% more than a new Laser and have built fewer that 3000 units, and have many field issues.
Could you be more specific about the "many field issues"?

A Laser Solution would be to certify new boat builders, who were certified and labeled for boats and parts and allow easy access of generic parts.
Yes. This is what the Laser class will likely need to do to stay in contention. Whether that will happen is highly dependent on LP, whom many of us have learned not to trust to do what is best for the sailors.

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Tillerman

Member
Is it a good thing for the bulk of regular, amateur sailors in a class for their class to be selected for the Olympic?

I sailed a Laser for over 30 years from the time way before it was in the Olympics. I didn't see any changes to the class that were of benefit to me after it became an Olympic class. And in some ways things got worse.

Now I sail an RS Aero and already it is being considered for the Olympics. Nobody asked us members of the RS Aero Class if we wanted this. And I am not sure how I would have answered if I had been asked.

More of my insane ramblings on this topic at RS Aero in the Olympics? – Aerobian
 

thieuster

Active Member
I've looked at the retail prices of all 4 boats and already it is clear that every single boat of the 3 'new kids on the block' are more expensive than a Laser. In fact there are only 2nd hand Laser for sale. Like the Nacra 15, the price of the boat will increase further the moment it's stamped 'Olympic'.

The introduction of the new boats and the relatively short period for the O/Games will cause problems. Currently, the 'pyramid' of Laser sailor heading for a ticket to the Games is more or less a natural flow from the Optimist into the 4.7 etc. Let's say the Aero will be the next boat. There are hardly any Aeros on Dutch water! The distributor isn't capable of churning out enough boats for the whole fleet to learn how to become an Olympic contender.

Getting more kids into sailing with the Aero? No way. 99% of all sailors who want to reach the top, have parents with a sailing history or regatta history. And deep pockets. Only those parents will commit themselves to long-time, expensive commitments.
When sailing an optimist, there was this young boy who was better than my son: every 5 races, he won 3, my son 2. Due to financial issues, the boy had to quit sailing after the optimist. My son won the National Dutch competition in 2017. This year he competed in the Radial and got himself into the Dutch Talent Squad, heading for the '24 and '28 Games. Go figure what would have happened when he had been racing against that other boy the last two years. His resignation from sailing is a waste of talent. An even more expensive new boat will cause the same.

Change is good. Another dinghy is perhaps the best idea. But the time to the next Games is too short, the boats are too expensive and I think that a 'modern' dinghy isn't the way sailing is heading. Dinghies like the Waszp with their foils are much more interesting to look at, go a lot faster and are pretty difficult to handle - you need to be a good sailor to drive these things. Expensive? Yes. That's their only drawback.

 

torrid

Just sailing
Is it a good thing for the bulk of regular, amateur sailors in a class for their class to be selected for the Olympic?

I sailed a Laser for over 30 years from the time way before it was in the Olympics. I didn't see any changes to the class that were of benefit to me after it became an Olympic class. And in some ways things got worse.

Now I sail an RS Aero and already it is being considered for the Olympics. Nobody asked us members of the RS Aero Class if we wanted this. And I am not sure how I would have answered if I had been asked.

More of my insane ramblings on this topic at RS Aero in the Olympics? – Aerobian
I thought I read somewhere it was proposed to use a slightly different rig for the Olympic RS Aeros, which would isolate the existing class from Olympic shenanigans.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
I thought I read somewhere it was proposed to use a slightly different rig for the Olympic RS Aeros, which would isolate the existing class from Olympic shenanigans.
Sounds like a very bad idea. In practice you'd need two rigs instead of one, and/or to choose between "elite" and "people's" fleets. Can't see how anybody would be happy with that.
Can you find the source for this?

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Tillerman

Member
Sounds like a very bad idea. In practice you'd need two rigs instead of one, and/or to choose between "elite" and "people's" fleets. Can't see how anybody would be happy with that.
Can you find the source for this?

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The source of this story about two new RS Aero rig sizes for the Olympics was a post on Dinghy Anarchy by "dsolnick" on October 4th which included this paragraph.

As for the issue of the Olympics damaging a newer class, RS Sailing appears to have taken that concern to heart in their submission, and have come up with a brilliant solution. The manufacturer would develop two new rig sizes, one for men and one for women, which would be different than any of the 3 rig sizes now in use. They might, as an example, develop an Aero 6 and an Aero 8, to be used only for the Olympics. That will have the tendency to partition the class into the Olympic-bound and everyone else, but without discouraging top sailors from still competing in the non-Olympic classes if they choose to. What's more, Aero sailors who decide to campaign for the Olympics would need only a sail and the bottom section of a mast to convert their boat. Such a strategy would help retain the Corinthian spirit in that majority of Aero regattas that would be sailed by mere mortals.

In a private exchange between myself and the author, he would only reveal that he had this news from "a very reliable source indeed, with direct, first-hand knowledge of the submission."

I must admit I am skeptical about how this would help mitigate the adverse impact from the expected professionalism in the class if it were cursed with Olympic status. I would expect that the Olympic hopefuls would all own two rigs so that they could compete in the "Olympics rigs only" elite events but still come and ruin the amateur spirit and camaraderie in all the other events for "normal people rigs" with their uber-competitiveness and their damn mommy boats.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
I join the majority, I think, by writing that Olympic status is not necessarily helping the selected class. And may, in fact be detrimental. But one positive aspect of the Laser as an Olympic class is that a casual Laser sailor can get top-level training and coaching in places such as the Laser Training Center in the Dominican Republic and the International Sailing Academy on the West Coast. There may be similar sites in Europe and elsewhere.
 

thieuster

Active Member
That's a good point of view!

Indeed, as an example: Marit Bouwmeester's coach, her brother Roelof, is also a coach at a very run-of-the-mill sailing school-and-regatta training centre. You can spot him every weekend with his RIB behind all sorts of 4.7 and Radial sailors. One of the main features of this sailing school is the training of new coaches: 16, 17 y/old boys and girls are trained by Roelof and his mate Sietze-Jan (try to pronounce that if you're not Dutch). These young coaches go out and train very young optimist sailors.

Big part of the Talent Squad Program here in Holland is the fact that those young adult sailors are prepared to take a leading role in coaching as well when they're older. This winter, all Squad members are trained to get the ICC-certificate that allows them to drive a RIB on open waters. And some have started coaching already. My son has coached a group of youngsters in Optimists for the Dutch National Team Sailing Championship. His bunch finished 2nd (silver) out of 8 finalist teams. Only last summer he had a few conversations with Jon Emmett during the UK Open. His comment: "I really would like to do what he does: become a well-known coach after I've stopped sailing at an international level!"

It will take years before another Dinghy class can match this sort of sailing-coaching-sailing-coaching level. And it will take a few years before we (sailors, trainers, those who have an interest) have reached the level of 'understanding' the new dinghy. As said, I don't mind replacing the Laser, but the period to the Olympics is too short.
 

Tillerman

Member
That's a good point of view!

It will take years before another Dinghy class can match this sort of sailing-coaching-sailing-coaching level. And it will take a few years before we (sailors, trainers, those who have an interest) have reached the level of 'understanding' the new dinghy. As said, I don't mind replacing the Laser, but the period to the Olympics is too short.
I understand your point of view but I don't think the lack of a network of coaches skilled in the new boat and a shortage of sailors with many years of experience in the new boat should stop a new boat from being selected for the Paris Olympics. Coaches and sailors would quickly transition to working with the new boats and it would be rather refreshing to see people competing in the Olympics when they "only" have 5 years experience in the boat and when they might not be able to rely on coaches with 20 years experience in the boat. Good Laser sailors will quickly become good Melges 14/ D-Zero/Rs Aero sailors. The cream will still rise to the top.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
I don't mind replacing the Laser, but the period to the Olympics is too short.
I don't know how long an optimal transition period might be, but this time it would be a whole year longer than before. In the past, Olympic classes have been chosen only after the previous games.

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thieuster

Active Member
That's true. But I think that times are changing. Here in The Netherlands, the number of kids picking up sailing (and stay in the boat for years) is dwindling. In the past we had large, 150+ lasers on the starting line during the competition. Nowadays, we're happy to see 50 - 60 boats. Cost and time, school, parents' working hours, ... (just fill in any other obstacle...) contribute to the lesser numbers. And what's more: it is not only a Laser-related problem. Most boats that were 'changed' over the years, were boats that attracted experienced sailors from other classes. (The Argentinian Nacra 17 winners are a great example of that). Changing a 'fundamental' boat from Laser to ... should be done with a longer timescale in mind.

As for testing the new boats: most Dutch National (& National Youth) Squad members are off to Vilamoura in December, January and February. Launching a few of these test-dinghies in Vilamoura would give instant response and feedback - and enough interested sailors.

Yesterday evening, a few parents (and all sailors) were busy loading trailers, vans and a truck for the trip to Portugal. The 'top floor' has to be filled with boats as well. Not visible is the trailer with 4 49'ers stacked...
5d0c8f06-e550-4256-a26a-0da0108bd2a6.jpg7cb70888-a63f-4053-89ef-7d5603f30199.jpg
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Most boats that were 'changed' over the years, were boats that attracted experienced sailors from other classes. (The Argentinian Nacra 17 winners are a great example of that). Changing a 'fundamental' boat from Laser to ... should be done with a longer timescale in mind.
I don't think that is a problem. Just like there were cat people ready to jump into the Nacra 17, there are even more singlehanded sailors eager to get their hands on a new Olympic singlehander. What I am worried about is that dropping the Laser would further deepen the division between the elite and the grassroots, which is especially problematic in a small sailing country like mine.

As for testing the new boats: most Dutch National (& National Youth) Squad members are off to Vilamoura in December, January and February. Launching a few of these test-dinghies in Vilamoura would give instant response and feedback - and enough interested sailors.
Might you be able to strike some deal with the Portuguese Melges 14 builder?

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LaLi

Well-Known Member
From the C5 thread:
I was told from the NA class office the word from Andy Roy and Tracey Usher was we're sticking with the current full and radial rigs for the Olympic trials.
Thanks Rob for clearing up things a little. That means the Laser is setting itself up for a benchmark role at the Sea-trials: are the new boats technically advanced enough to warrant a change?

It would be a gamble for the Laser to take the "C" rigs to the trials and take the risk of still losing outright to some (or even all) of the others. But it's also a gamble to place all the bets on a political victory next November.

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thieuster

Active Member
Is there any insight regarding the selection itself? Just to name a few items: in general:
  1. what and how are they're going to test the various designs
  2. who's going to sail the boats (non-biased...)
  3. where are they going to be tested: (waves, wind force etc)
  4. ...
Or am I too naive about these questions?

About contact with the Portuguese Melges dealer: there's a 'homefront meets tech staff'-day next Saturday. I'll ask the coaches.


Menno
 

Rob B

Well-Known Member
From the C5 thread:Thanks Rob for clearing up things a little. That means the Laser is setting itself up for a benchmark role at the Sea-trials: are the new boats technically advanced enough to warrant a change?

It would be a gamble for the Laser to take the "C" rigs to the trials and take the risk of still losing outright to some (or even all) of the others. But it's also a gamble to place all the bets on a political victory next November.

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LaLi - so far everything is still "hear say" even with the e-mail I received it's still "according to Tracey and Roy". In NA our winter "Laser Sailor" magazines were delivered in late December. NA President Andy Roy wrote his typical article without a word regarding any changes other than the new radial bottom mast section. We all know how long things have taken to develop/change in the class over the years and the typical years of information and testing involved that has usually been very transparent. How LP is handling their end is not a surprise, but the way the ILCA is handling the C-rig has been a total shock (to me at least). At this point I'd say all bets are off until we get "official" notices in writing from the ILCA. BTW- It's either in the FB post from LP or Andy Roy's letter in the Laser Sailor about the trials being in the first quarter of 2019. So, that's any month now...
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Yes, it takes no genius to figure out that the Australian C-rig won't be in the Olympic trial event because LP would object. Moreover, the Laser was invited to participate, not some non-legal off-shoot.
 

Rob B

Well-Known Member
Yes, it takes no genius to figure out that the Australian C-rig won't be in the Olympic trial event because LP would object. Moreover, the Laser was invited to participate, not some non-legal off-shoot.
This is where LP/ILCS has totally pooch punched it from a marketing side. In my opinion the best and only way to have a shot at,(if this is the intention) a successful wholesale change to the boat like a new rig would have been to get approval to sail it in the trials and then WIN the trials. This would have created a forced change, but one that too many would have had to buy in to. This would have been the best, (and probably only) shot at a great enough acceptance and chance momentum to keep the class reasonably alive. After some thought I think these new rigs are simply going to be recreational options. At least for the next 3-5 years if they take hold at all. I'm planning to just keep sailing my boat as is for at least the next 3 years without worrying about my rig becoming extinct.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
what and how are they going to test the various designs
I think past trials have consisted mostly simply of free sailing and some course racing. Some measurement (such as weighing) may also take place.
who's going to sail the boats (non-biased...)
Every WS member nation is entitled to send one male and one female sailor. One would think any bias would be toward the Laser, as it's what the test group most certainly will be most familiar with.
where are they going to be tested: waves, wind force etc)
The place will be chosen in a couple of weeks, and of course it would be best to have a wide variety of conditions there. Marseille would be the "natural" choice, but I can think of places like Garda and Barcelona being in the running, too.

The fact that there are only three scheduled sailing days may of course cause problems in this sense. (And I don't think that time is even close to adequate for the testers to get properly acquainted with the new boats even in a best-case weather scenario.)
am I too naive to ask these questions?
No :D

It's either in the FB post from LP or Andy Roy's letter in the Laser Sailor about the trials being in the first quarter of 2019. So, that's any month now...
February, March, or April. Supposed to be chosen in January. Any day now.


http://www.sailing.org/tools//documents/InshoreSeatrialsVenueAW-[24533].pdf

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LoonyGryphon

New Member

Rob B

Well-Known Member
Well, it didn't take even a week: Information for ILCA Members About New Rig Development – International Laser Class Association:D

I think people high up in ILCA have been reading this forum lately... at least it's nice to think we've actually influenced them to come out in public. Special thanks to Rob B!

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No problem. I should have used my class connections much earlier instead of jumping in on the hysteria. Just a momentary mind slip on my part. Guess it happens with us master, (few years shy of Grand Master) sailors.....
 
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