Lost class or lost cause?

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Nigel
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by Nigel » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:02 pm

Rupert wrote:Sadly, Rod McA-D isn't around anymore to discuss the reasons for the demise of Man O' War or Tonic.
Hi Rupert,

according to the Chrysler sailing association website

"Chrysler having to get out of the sailboat as part of its corporate restructuring in return for loan guarantees from the U.S. Government".

http://chryslersailing.lizards.net/

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neil
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by neil » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:12 pm

I've had this discussion with Big Al many times with regards to the ToY. I brought one along to Roadford in 2000 or 2001, my first sliding seat boat, and my first singlehander after a 20 year break from dinghy sailing when I'd been racing big boats.

The problem with the ToY was the build quality. For a lot of years one of my websites had the only information on the ToY so a lot of ex-ToY owners made contact and the fact they exploded into pieces was a recurring theme. It turned out that my boat was actually made from 2 boats. The hull from one and the deck from another (shows ho easy it was to get the deck off). I still have a load of spares somewhere, including the wooden transom bracing piece. Got through fair number of those.

This is symptomatic of the problem. Short run builds to not have the luxury of today's modern production methods. Were the plastic boats of the 60s and 70s ever expected to last for more than 10 years? This is probably where the Laser won. Quality control, marketing, one design, easy access etc. I remember when I was a kid (12 or 13) and one of the Sunday papers was promoting both the Topper and the Laser. I had a poster of the Laser...that was the boat we all wanted. Couldn't afford one so sailed OKs. How disapponited was I when a few years ago I bought a Laser. horrible boat, glad I sailed OKs.

But is the ToY a lost class? Yes and No. It's a lost class but also qualifies as an 'old class'. Should it be welcomed into the CVRDA? Of course it should.

The other issue is how to you measure the 'success' of a class. The ToY was up to about 300 in number. Is this successful? It's easy to compare everything to the Laser, but when you start looking around maybe we treat the Laser as the exception.

Finns are in the 1,000s worldwide are they unsuccessful? ICs are less than 1000 - still pretty popular though. Even the modern crop of RSs are only in the 100s. No-one says they've 'failed' as a class.
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by Nigel » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:37 pm

Two I would like to find and try:

Shooting Star - I suspect it may be horrible to sail but should be saluted at least as a brave attempt.

Virago - No idea why it did not catch on (other than possibly the size) but it seems to have dissapeard without a trace.

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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by davidh » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:45 pm

Neil.

oh dear yes...... but then, back when the Toy was a boy (a toyboy even) grp techniques were very different to those of today. Not just the exploding Toy, the Harrier with it's self destruct transom, even the famous Rondar Contender (you may not know this Nessa but until Shappi Harpprecht devised his under deck wire system, when you put on the highfield lever on the forestay the deck under the mast depressed alarmingly).

still, the ToY did incredibly well for a boat that was made in a weekend (without any real recourse to plans) and went on to have a full national - the European circuit.

It is quite possible to lump the ToY/Typhoon and many of these other late 60s/ early 70s 'failures' as suffering from the British Leyland malaise. Poor product, poor quality control, badly marketed and all suffering from a lack fo investment.

D
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by JimC » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:53 pm

davidh wrote:but another was a top ten of boats that had made it - but maybe shouldn't have done ... [and] ten clearly definable 'dogs'
Well you can put the dreadful Laser 5 Tonner in both those lists! If you call a brief flash of sales before you get found out "making it".

What one defines as success is an nteresting qiuestion...

Could it be enough sales to make a profit after all the overheads have been paid?

Or do we mean an enduring life as a class over many years? If so 5 years? 10 years?

And how many boats? Specialist classes built as one offs by custom boat builders can survive quite happily on 5 new boats a year for an indefinite period, with maybe twenty five/thirty boats at a championships, but a mass production SMOD that dips down to that level will, according to the numbers I've been looking at, be well on to the way to its demise...


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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by jpa_wfsc » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:15 am

neil wrote:Even the modern crop of RSs are only in the 100s. No-one says they've 'failed' as a class.
give it 10 or 15 years.. I think they will be seen as commercial successes but as a class goes - most will be hardy annuals. A handful of types might endure to become perennial. The RS seems to survive as a class by being an RS Association, as do Comet (The Combined Comet Class Association...).

Lots of our boats are in the same category: Pegasus, Marauder, and so on - all got to a few hundred and then stalled out for some reason or another. Now they continue as members of another association..

But all still worth saving and the RS's will be, in the future, worth saving (and still great fun to sail). Try an RS500 in a F4 at least once in your life.
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Nessa
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by Nessa » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:34 am

I sail at Grafham now, where in terms of the single handed trap boat, the RS600 dominates. If I want good local racing then I should sell the contender and get an RS600, but somehow I can't bring myself to do it. There's nothing wrong with an RS600 - I suspect there's plenty right with them, but there's an entry of 125+ and growing for the contender Worlds. The RS600s have an artificially created Euro thingy, but they may not ever have a Worlds....

I don't know why this is important to me, but it is.

The Bonito also appears to be a 'Marmite' boat. They have had praise on another forum and perhaps I was judging it too soon after only one sail. Had the laser not come along doubtless it would have continued to thrive and maybe even the design flaws would have been ironed out.
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by davidh » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:40 pm

Okay,

because it is a friday and I'm feeling somewhat contrite you can have three answers here for the price of one.

Jim C: You are just possibily (but only just) being a tad unfair to the 5-tonner. The original idea was really good and as a design I would say that Phil Morisson was not far from getting it right -FOR THE TIME.

Then the boat was taken up by Laser who needed to make it 'ubiquitous' and therefore made it bomb proof, bullet proof and capable of use as an Arctic ice breaker, always assuming that there is still ice to be broken. When the Riva Trials came along, had they made the boat as Dereck Clark intended and stepped a lightweight carbon rig the result may have been different. I am not saying such a boat would have defeated the 49er for there were other factors at play BUT.... it would have been, as Wellington said, "a Damn close run thing".
But the original concept was sound if the delivery was flawed. Even today, with all that is wrong with the boat, the 5 tonner can still provide a wonderful sailing experience!!

Nessa; More than any other comment made of late - yours has hit the bulls eye. It is the process of ongoing development that makes a boat really great, for I cannot think of any of the (by Isaf definition) true one designs that would not be better for a bit of development.
David Thomas admitted as much to me when we were discussing the 1968 Trials, won by the Contender. THis was a very different boat to the 1967 version, which was a very different boat to...etc etc. Had David continued working at making the Unit better, as Bob Miller did, well, you're back to the Laser 5000 v 49er again. It could have done it.... after all, stranger decisions were being made by the IYRU, ergo the success of the Australis A Class cat - a decision that put international single handed cat sailing back by a generation.

Which brings me on to answer 3. The RS600.
This is really a good boat, maybe even a very good boat. Possibly had the potential to be a great boat. So what went wrong?

How about the answer being the RS700 and Musto Skiff? Once these boats came along, the same people who had deserted the Contender for the 600 then moved on again. The other factor could be that once launched, that's it. Deveopment stops (well, until the foiling 600 was developed).

Now think back to Contendering. Up at Weston, in one corner of the dinghy pound, is a Mark 1 Rondar. Now if you were to sail that, you would find the same order of magnitude of difference between that and the boats of today as there is between your Phantom and a modern FRP boat. Both classes have a rule structure that allows continous improvement, even if some of the changes may look retrograde (like transom sheeting to a cleat forrard of the plate case). So ideas get refined, sailors in time amend the rules (everything from lowers to carbon spars) and as a result the boat improves. Now apply the same logic to a boat like the 600 and think what you could do, over time, to improve it. How about changing the fully battened main, a right sod in any single hander, for a semi soft/hard, so that the boat tacks more easily. Or a cartridge style rudder box....so many little tweaks that would make so much difference.

Once any rule is frozen, development stops. This applies equally to dinghies, to the format of the CVRDA wings - or even to the sailing gear that has so revolutionised the sport.

Or maybe I am beginning to see that it is not the SMOD concept that is wrong, but the execution of how the boats are then allowed - or not, to evolve.

Now that is a radical way of thinking for here.

D
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by Rupert » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:59 pm

Not sure why you had to bring the cvrda wings into the arguement. Up to that point I had been largely agreeing with you, but then it occurred to me that if you were willing to spout on about the cvrda wings in such a way (your knowledge of which is limited, having only made it to a couple of events) then maybe there were flaws in your other arguements. The main flaw I see is that what you say applies mainly to "cool" (to quote Mr Brigg) boats. Sailors of the RS 600 may move on to other, even more exciting things when they get the chance. Sailors of the RS 200, who aren't looking for the ultimate adrinaline rush, won't. Nor will Laser 2000 sailors. The classes may, over time, fade (most do) but not because they didn't allow carbon masts or a rudder cassette.
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by JimC » Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:53 pm

davidh wrote:The original idea was really good and as a design I would say that Phil Morisson was not far from getting it right -FOR THE TIME.
He was about twenty years behind the times. Not just the pure skiffs, but boats like the Kiwi Javelin, the R class and so on should have beeen used as models... Unfortunately they had a bad attack of I14 blinkers when the I14 was in a terrible state due to ruleitis and complacency, plus a bit of looking at photos of 18s but without an understanding what made them work. The hull was the wrong shape, the fore and aft rig was poor, the spinnaker awful and the weight abominable...
davidh wrote: How about changing the fully battened main, a right sod in any single hander, for a semi soft/hard,
The trouble is if you do that you can't depower and point at the same time, the sails clap out, rigging/sail handling is more trouble (because you can't just roll the sail round the battens) etc etc. This obsession with semi soft sails is a peculiarly British one: you don't seem to find it anywhere else. I would never consider a semi soft sail on a boat of mine...
To return to the point some my Harrier was *loads* nicer with a fully battened sail, even though it was just long battens sewn onto the standard and very tired sail. Interestingly the Harrier sail was almost identical to a Solo sail, but more pointed at the top... If you put one on top of the other with the feet level the two were identical up to either the top batten or the one below, but the Harrier sail then had a longer pointier top.

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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by davidh » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:36 pm

Rupert,

the point that I was trying to make was a very simple one. Anything that is fixed will in time 'age' and loose something along the way. As Neil rightly said when the discussion was on a 'flow chart' - rule based systems are by their nature inflexible.

So be it a design, or a set of criteria..... (and I thought that the 'wings' arguement was as valid as it is topical) maybe the answer is to have rules (as Dave C has championed strongly) - stick to them (agree 100%) but to not be afraid to change them when needed.

How many times has history shown that the way forward was 'there' all the time but just needed developing? Take that one stage further..... could some of the proliferation of classes we see today be the result of the rigid 'smod' based structure that DOESN'T allow development - so instead a 'new' class is launched.

I thought then that all of the points were fairly made - and that means 'all of them', from the Laser 5000 (though Jim C still disagrees) through to the value of the RS600 which is still, in my humble opinion, a hugely under rated step along the single hander development path. Do I also think that the Association needs to be mindful of the pitfalls of being 'locked in' to a strategy that has worked so well for the first 10 years - yes I do but I also accept that my views are just that - my views.

D
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by Nigel » Sat Jun 27, 2009 7:06 am

JimC wrote:Interestingly the Harrier sail was almost identical to a Solo sail
Someone gave me an old Fireball main when I had mine and it was pretty much an exact match.

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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by davidh » Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:54 am

And the ToY sail was (in it's original guise) a straight lift from the Solo too!

D
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by Rupert » Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:24 am

Sorry David, my post read a little more grumpily than I meant it to.
When I had a ToY, I went and bought a cheap but decent Solo sail for it - went like the clappers in a breeze, but even with the extra power of a modern sail couldn't hack it in the light stuff. Raiding the parts bin does seem to be a long and glorious habit in dinghy sailing - keeps the costs down in a low margin industry, I guess.

Funny how the fully battened sail thing makes people either very "for" or very "against". I suspect it just depends upon what you have spent a long time using. I'm a soft sail person, and have real trouble reading a fully battened sail, especially in a singlehander. Not sure it is a UK thing, though, the fully battened sail appears to have been a NZ Aus thing, because the USA and Europe don't see any more of them than the UK. Fewer, in fact, with the UK having more recently designed boats out than in Europe. Something to do with steady Christchurch (NZ) winds, maybe?
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Re: Lost class or lost cause?

Post by jpa_wfsc » Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:34 am

For me Fully battened sails are impossible without loads of tell tales - 1/3 from luff and on the leach. With a soft sail you get so much feedback fromt he cloth - probably much more than you realize - and that is missing from a hard sail. Comparing the IC and skol moth, I would also say that having a jib makes a huge difference - it seems much less sensitive to mainsheet setting on the IC while the skol moth is very difficult to get set right.
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British Moth, 630, early 60's 'Pisces'

!!!! Not CVRDA !!!!
Comet Trio - something always ready to sail.

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