2015 Designer Report

Friday, 27 February 2015

The last 18 months have been pretty interesting.   It started in Cascade Locks with some suggestions re streamlining the fittings of the boat (& the carbon mast/sail program).

Then earlier this year Mum and I pondered the carbon mast question, and towards the end of the year we have had quite a big uptick in new boats sales leading up to what appears to be an outstanding Tasar worlds south of Perth.

Just from the outset, I'm a very big believer in "controlled evolution" and I know some of you are less enthusiastic.

So the new regime re fittings has sort of half been embraced.   There has been some up take in the simple parts.  What will speed this along is that by March 1st 2015, there will be fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) 29er foils, and the 29er rudder will simply slot onto Tasars almost seamlessly.  

I also would just like to ring a word of caution, re evolution.   I don't believe you should evolve for the sake of evolving, there have to be good reasons and they in most case need to result in either a more cost effective product or greater longevity which in turn leads to reduced running costs.

A classic example of this was the 49er mast, you used to have to travel with 6-7 masts in the old alloy/FRP days.    Now with the new carbon versions, you need 2, and with the interchangeability of the sections and the spreaders, inventory has reduced also.   Sure they cost 50% more, but running costs are down over 40% on the old mast array and we are now able to focus on mainsails and bring those prices down also.

Compare that to say the B14 program, which was not quite as well done, with less control and less testing of both wings and masts.    Those boats have suffered.    Great boat, but the process was managed badly.

 So management of the process, the only people with the money, time and motivation are the builders.

We are seeing this with the 29er and also the 49er now, the builders are looking 3-5 years ahead and making decisions which in some quarters are not popular, but  long term are critical.  

If you sit on your hands too long and do nothing, you simply will become obsolete.

I need to stress, Mum and I, thought long and hard about the new carbon rig for the Tasar and though there was a small majority in favour, we decided not to proceed.   The reason from my point of view are:-

a)      Yep we would lose some sailors but we would gain others so that was a zero net gain and that's not a positive.

b)      Cost to do it would take probably 5-7 years to recover, and that's about normal, so that was a positive.

c)      It would lead to a reduction in the price of sails, plus a new look, modernisation, and that's a big positive.

d)      But the biggy was there was no champion to carry this through.   I can't do it.  Alistair, who is the logical other is now pretty heavily committed elsewhere, and there is presently no other person standing up and willing to take it on and make it happen.

That may sound pessimistic, I in fact think otherwise!     We are in for change, Parky going, Alistair and his Victorian cohorts being less vocal, someone new will bubble up, maybe someone from Seattle, or a POM with new fresh ideas and new passion.

To burden those people with a 2-3 year development project (carbon mast) was unfair.

But to quote the huge hoarding on the way into Helsinki, "Innovate or Die".  

This will be the challenge for all classes ahead.     The new voice of the class needs to think about how they want that process to happen, and implement changes and the evolution will flow from that.

Re the recent up-tick in boat sales, it's great, Dad would really be chuffed, though I do think it's short term and that is also good as I need some time to re-evaluate production process and facilities.

Both Mandy and Rob have asked for permission to build locally, and I have no problem with that other than we simply don't have critical mass for three builders world-wide.

But it's a great problem to have.

I wish you all well in Western Australia, hope it's a great event - hope the right person wins for the right reasons, whatever that is.

Wish I could be there but family matters (Deidre's side) preclude that.

2015 will be a great year, Mum said only a few days  back  that 2014 was a bit of a shocker, but she has never felt so good as she does now (within reason).

For me, we have just started getting China bubbling, and there is a very real demand for a 2-handed main and jib boat across Asia and also UK/Europe and USA, and that will happen regardless of whether you or I think otherwise.

There is BTW a huge demand for a great single hander given the Laser/Devoti/RS debacle and that also will happen regardless of whether you or I think otherwise also.

It's all about reaching critical mass.

In closing it would be remiss of me not to offer a huge thankyou to Parky for steering the course of the class over the last umpteen years, initially in lesser roles but then as President and finally as Exc Sec.  Parky, I'm sure Dad, and certainly both Mum and I are greatly indebted to your work and efforts.

I wish you and Beryl a great time being grey nomads.

Thankyou one and all,