At the risk of starting a series of attack posts from VWap:
1. Neither of the dealerships who have supplied boats to San Antonio, Houston, Corpus, Austin, and the surrounding areas has been able to acquire stock for years now.
2. LP sent a fleet of charter Lasers to the Nationals in Houston and did not coordinate that effort with the Houston dealer.
3. LP set up a retail truck at Houston Yacht Club (5 miles from the Houston dealer’s Shop) and sold Carbon spars, new sails, any parts anyone wanted, and even offered to make post Regatta deals on the charter boats. ( note: the Fleet’s Next stop was the youth world’s in Corpus and the boats purchased were for delivery AFTER that event)
4. LP sold at least five boats to parents of Clear Lake Junior sailors BEFORE offering post regatta charter boats to the Houston Dealer.
5. AFTER the Youth Worlds were complete and everyone who found out LP was selling parts and boats from their truck had had a chance to make a purchase, LP offered to supply the Houston dealer with some parts and boats. (For those unfamiliar with the North American Boat business, sales come nearly to a stop around July 4 and do not pick up again until energized by midwinter sales and spring fitting out season. Stocking the shelves in August is not something North American boat dealers have EVER done. Manufacturers hold dealer shows in the fall, offer HUGE discounts to anyone who will take delivery before January or even March and focus on building boats for the spring rush.)
The Houston dealer declined to load its shelves and storerooms with product it could not reasonably expect to sell until spring.
6. The sponsoring company of Dinghy Anarchy is doing everything it can manage to get its products recognized by North American sailors. There is a trailer of their charter boats curently touring Texas regattas. The Houston dealer is sending as many as three of its employees with personal boats to sail and a dozen “try it out” charter boats to at least four events in Texas this fall.
7. My opinion:
I believe the well financed supportive local dealer is any sailing fleet’s Very best friend. It is certainly possible to have a fleet without that special dealer but.....
It is soooooo very much easier to prosper when there is somebody spending money on organization and promotion and with Lasers and other similar boats a huge percentage of the new blood has always been those who bought a boat at the dealer and were subsequently introduced to the fleet and racing.
When Rod Malone’s Sail and Ski Center in Austin celebrated the sale of its 500th Laser we only had about 100 on the grounds at Austin Yacht Club. (In fact, our fleet has survived the last ten years largely by finding old Sail and Ski Lasers stored in various garages and boat houses. I just found a 1984 unused boat for my own use. ) It takes a HUGE number of boats to maintain a forty boat fleet of moderately active sailors that averages 15 to 20 boats per event.
My concern is the lack of brand new equipment from the local dealer will cause our local fleets to lose critical mass. Our club is generally more active than it has been in years. Our junior program is more active and in greater numbers than ever. Our keelboat fleets are growing. Because there are boats available and enthusiastic fleet member organizers, our J-80, Ensign, and Pearson 26 fleets are each putting over ten boats on the starting line every time the RC sets a course.
Our radio control night is booming.
150 new people move to the Austin area EVERY DAY!!! They have jobs and they need to recreate. New people come to our club every week.
but we do not have anyone in town selling new Lasers or Sunfish and the necessary parts and sails.
So... in an effort to have a vibrant local Singlehanded game in 2020 I am working to ADD an AERO fleet to our club’s sailboat racing options. I still hope to host at least another fourteen so I can establish, “Hosting fifty consecutive years of a one design regatta” as my Lou Gehrig /Cal Ripken sort of longevity standard for sailing.
I have no idea yet whether the AERO fleet is going to achieve sufficient participation to satiate my personal lust for big fleet racing. I am, however, reasonably confident we will have lots of 20 boat AERO regattas in Texas Next year. I would take the bet, “there will be at least one 30 boat AERO event in Texas in 2018.”
if Lasers still had active well supplied Texas dealers , there absolutely would not be an AERO fleet starting this rapidly.
but... As the AERO is absolutely a different animal than the Laser and interesting in its own way, the AERO game is probably going to happen in Texas Whether Lasers become available again or not.
Summary: I think any strong sailing fleet helps all other sailing fleets. When any fleet dies, all sailing loses something. I hope in ten years we have fleets of 100 Lasers, Fleets of 100 Radials, Fleets of 100 AEROs, and even fleets of Finns.