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Racing Sail ?

HoosierDaddy

New Member
I participate in racing fleet #700. For a 2009 Christmas present I asked for a new racing sail. I received a gift card from Irish Boat Works in Harbor Springs, MI. I waited until early summer to call to ask about purchashing a new race sail. I still do not have a new sail.

I was told that the "class North South" race sail was on backorder with no available date for delivery. I was also informed tha there is an alternate race sail made by someone else(FX" maybe) that would work well but would not be class legal but that nobdy would likely call me on the class legality of the sail.

Anybody know what is up with the North South "class legal sail"? Seems really odd that you try to order a sail prior to July 4th 2010 and can't get a delivery date.

Seems odd but in these days, nothing is odd, it is predetermined.
 

NightSailor

Captain
I participate in racing fleet #700. For a 2009 Christmas present I asked for a new racing sail. I received a gift card from Irish Boat Works in Harbor Springs, MI. I waited until early summer to call to ask about purchashing a new race sail. I still do not have a new sail.

I was told that the "class North South" race sail was on backorder with no available date for delivery. I was also informed tha there is an alternate race sail made by someone else(FX" maybe) that would work well but would not be class legal but that nobdy would likely call me on the class legality of the sail.

Anybody know what is up with the North South "class legal sail"? Seems really odd that you try to order a sail prior to July 4th 2010 and can't get a delivery date.

Seems odd but in these days, nothing is odd, it is predetermined.
Racing sails are available. These are about $400. A white practice sail is worth about $120. It sounds like these guys are out to rip you off. Call Toresen marine. Or any other place. Someone has this sail...they should get one to you or cough up $400.
 

Edward Teach

New Member
Hoosier,
I don't have an answer to question, but what I don't understand is why only one manufacturer can make class legal parts. I get the idea that it maintains value of the boat, but it seems that the value wouldn't diminsh if they allow multiple manufactures to produce parts if they are required to adhear to exacting standards and materials determined by the class. This may eliminate shortages in much needed parts.

Ed
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Lack of parts from the mfr is a huge problem now for Lasers and Sunfish. The mfr has all sorts of Excuses but there are almost no new Laser or Sunfish sails or blades to be had at most if not all dealers. . DO NOT get a non class legal saIl if you intend to race. Wait around and they will show up. Laser Performance is clearly having issues but they have GOT to get them resolved. BB
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
Hoosier,
I don't have an answer to question, but what I don't understand is why only one manufacturer can make class legal parts. I get the idea that it maintains value of the boat, but it seems that the value wouldn't diminsh if they allow multiple manufactures to produce parts if they are required to adhear to exacting standards and materials determined by the class. This may eliminate shortages in much needed parts.
It's been explained this way by those in the know...


Sunfish blasphemy question

First... a disclaimer. I am the President of the US Sunfish Class. What is said here is my personal opinion, based on my recollection of history. It does not represent the opinion of the Sunfish Class, LaserPerformance or any of the prior manufacturers of Sunfish. This is a hypothesis, with some factual basis to it.

As Gail has pointed out, one of the big differences between the Sunfish (boat), its class and competitors in the sailing market is that the design and name Sunfish are owned exclusively by the manufacturer (LP). Sunfish is trademarked, which I believe means you cannot use the name without permission of the owner of the trademark. So, the class cannot ask another company to create sails or other parts without the permission of the current manufacturer. Similarly, I do not think the class can even exist without the permission of the manufacturer. This makes the Sunfish Class different from the Laser Class because the Laser class owns its design and the associated trademarks, and licenses them to the manufacturer.

Given that, the changes to the boat that are often complained about can be looked at and analyzed more clearly.

A major change to the hull occurred around 1990. That design change led to the reduction on the weight of the boat that Wayne mentioned, added a hiking strap, made the cockpit bigger and introduced the rolled edge. These changes were the exclusive decision of the manufacturer Pearson and had nothing to do with the class's influence (or lack there of).

As was already mentioned, there was wide variation in the sails during the late 70s and 80s that resulted from different weight fabrics, colors and sail makers. The sails stretched very differently. Some people had HUGE, legal sails that could easily reach the ends of the spars, while others had much smaller sails. There was always chatter about a person not being able to compete because they had a particular sail. It was desirable to improve the one-design characteristics of the boat because the Sunfish was a major international class and competed directly with the Laser. At the time, I believe the Sunfish Class was bigger than the Laser Class in the US). The new racing sail accomplished its goal and leveled the playing field among racers.

The decision to have a single sail maker build the sails was made by the manufacturer - they own the rights to the design. Although I might be wrong, I believe North (as we know it today) became the manufacturer of the racing sail in the early 90s, when Sunfish Laser Inc purchased the rights to the Sunfish from Pearson Sailboats. If my memory serves me correctly, North had some ties to SLI as a partner, owner, investor or some other business relationship.

In the early 90s it was announced that the Laser would be an Olympic Class for the 1996 games in Atlanta. Around the same time, there was consolidation of the dinghy market in North America. This was the first time the Sunfish and Laser were manufactured by the same company. Prior to that, the boats and classes were direct competitors. Under the same roof, the manufacturer thought it would be more profitable to not have their products directly compete in the same market. By leveraging each products' strengths, they focused on attracting a different market segment to each boat. The relative performance characteristics of the two boats made it a logical business decision to focus the Sunfish on the recreational market and the Laser on the performance and racing market.

So why is there a racing and recreational Sunfish? Think about it from the manufacturer's point of view. First of all, you have a large, established population that races Sunfish. It is in the manufacturer's interest to support the class because they help promote your product. Second, for the sake of discussion and understanding why there is a racing and recreation Sunfish, imagine a scenario were there was only a recreational Sunfish and no racing class. How would this impact the transition from recreational sailing to racing?

Many people have used the recreational Sunfish as a gateway into racing. If there were no racing class, a recreational sailor (consumer) who is interested in trying to race would probably have no option but to buy a brand new boat - a Laser. The difference in performance, and extra cost, would discourage many people from trying to race. The manufacturer wants to profit from the recreational sailors that are interested in venturing into the racing world. So, they lower the cost of entry by offering the Sunfish racing upgrade.

If the class had its choice, I suspect there would be no recreational sails sold today. There would probably be only white or colored racing sails (similar to the colored sails found at the World Championship). This might help the class grow because the recreational sailors would have almost no cost of entry to try racing. However, this scenario would probably not be as profitable for the manufacturer. And since the Sunfish is a manufacturer's class, the class has minimal power to influence this business decision.

When the Sunfish and Laser were first built under the same roof, the manufacturer's decision to continue to support the Sunfish's Racing Class obviously kept the relatively large population of existing class members happy. Offering the "racing sunfish" brand helps further the class's efforts to grow. The Sunfish Class is extremely fortunate, and grateful, to have a manufacturer that supports us so much.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
The Internet is full of rumors, so one more may not hurt too much.

The rumor is that LaserPerformance USA hasn't paid its bills to North Sails. Because North isn't a charity, there is now a shortage of Laser and Sunfish legal sails in the USA. Obviously, this is not only bad for customers wanting to stimulate the economy, but especially for the dealers who make a (very) decent profit selling these sails.

If you want to dig further into these rumors, there's more on www.laserforum.org

PS: beldar boathead hinted at this issue as well, I believe.
 

davlafont

New Member

The rumor is that LaserPerformance USA hasn't paid its bills to North Sails. Because North isn't a charity, there is now a shortage of Laser and Sunfish legal sails in the USA. Obviously, this is not only bad for customers wanting to stimulate the economy, but especially for the dealers who make a (very) decent profit selling these sails.
That's interesting. The implication would be that LaserPerformance subsidizes the price of each class legal sail. Or, LPI's sail orders for new boats are the only real volume for North and North won't bother making a trickle of sails for the aftermarket. If not, there would be no connection between LaserPerformance's outstanding bills and North's sail selling business.

Sorry if this was explained in the Laser Forum discussion. I just couldn't work up the energy to surf there and find it...
 

cjobara

New Member
The shortage does not just apply to sails. LaserPerformance has not been able to supply other parts as well to their dealers or their own internet parts sales. I know because I ordered 14 different parts for Sunfish and Zuma boats from LP. When I went to pick up the parts at their Portsmouth location (after calling ahead and being told that my parts were in) I found 1 out of the 14 in the package. Everything else was back ordered. I then searched country wide for the parts I needed so I could sail this summer. Dealers are also unable to sell new Sunfish because of this part shortage. An unfortunate situation in the peak sailing season here in New England.

Craig
 

HoosierDaddy

New Member
I emailed LaserPerformance USA two days ago asking if their dealer in Harbor Springs, MI was still an authorized dealer and to comment about the lack of an available delivery date for a new racing sail. Absolutely no response! There is nothing that ticks me off more than being ignored with a valid question.

I hope I am wrong but the lack of available parts and backorder dates listed as "unknown" makes me believe that LP is probably in some deep financial troubles and have been cut off from some of their suppliers.
 

P323

New Member
I think it's ridiculous to have sails made by one manufacturer. Sail making, at least for small boats, ain't rocket science! There should be exact measurements, cloth weight, and shape that must be met but that's it.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
Laser Performance is currently looking for someone to fill the following spot :
Customer Service Rep/Technical Rep Parts and Seitech
Maybe this may relate to the delayed/no reponse you've gotten from Laser Performance???
That may relate to the information pipeline out to dealers and retail customers, but part availability is tied to purchasing, inventory management, and accounting/financial management.

.
 

skutzabik

Sails the Bidet
Until this thread, I didn't think much of it...but I was in APS in Annapolis, MD on my way to the OBX recently and the SF section looked like Walmart on Christmas Eve, picked over and threadbare. Sections devoted to other lines looked fine but the stock for SF made the detour a waste of time, although I earned triple wifey miles with a few hours in downtown Annapolis!
 

chucktowncolie

New Member
I was at the North Americans in Mattituck a month ago, and heard Jim of the Dinghy Shop
mention that there were NO new Sunfish racing sails in North America. He seemed to have every part for a Sunfish except for the new sails. If you are going to race in regional qualifiers or North American events, go ahead and wait for the North racer. If you're going to hit non qualifying events (regattas around where you live where there's no world qualifying spot at stake) I would consider the Intensity or Neil Pryde racing style sail. It's one third the cost of a class legal sail.
 

Geophizz

Member
They are always short of aftermarket parts. The explanation that they give me is that the new boat market is pretty small, and the aftermarket is tiny compared to their new boat market, so they have trouble getting the third party manufacturers to fill their small production orders, never mind aftermarket, so they have to piggyback aftermarket parts onto a "few times a year" production run order. This is the reason that a few weeks ago they bought into a company that makes blades.

Two weeks ago I was at the factory, and they had several Sunfish Race sails available on display. The overflow lot where they store overstock boats was nearly empty, and the parking lot at the manufacturing facility was full. They also just signed a new lease for the Vanguard Sailing Center, the retail outlet on the premises.
 

davlafont

New Member
...the new boat market is pretty small, and the aftermarket is tiny compared to their new boat market, so they have trouble getting the third party manufacturers to fill their small production orders, never mind aftermarket, so they have to piggyback aftermarket parts onto a "few times a year" production run order...
I figured as much. However, this logic is far more applicable to production runs where economy of scale is important: set-up times and costs are too great for small onesies-twosies builds. Or the limited production resources are better used on more profitable pieces over the low-margin Sunfish items.

But are we really talking about factories with streams of goods flowing out the door that can ill afford the hiccup that Sunfish parts would cause them? Or is it really just one person trying to make sails for hundreds of different boat classes and the 'Fish is just low on the totem pole?

Interesting business case study if nothing else.
 

tag

my2fish
earlier this year, I was talking with Chris at Torresen Marine, and he mentioned that one of the Sunfish parts manufacturers that LP uses (maybe Holt Allen, or something like that) had gone bankrupt/into arrears - and as a result, there had been a major backorder on any of the supplies they manufactured.

doesn't help the North Sails supply issue, but maybe sheds some light on other hard to find parts.

cheers,
tag
 
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