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JimC

The Future of One Design

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You know it occurs to me that we might have a big shakeup in the way one design dinghies are handled in the future.  The thing that might kick it off is the monopoly investigations into the Laser et al.

At the moment, it seems to me that we have two basic approaches to one design, which one might call measurement led and builder led.

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Measurement led is the class association dominated model, where a relatively simple set of rules are defined on paper to a greater or lesser extent, and any boat that complies with those measurements is basically OK. Building may be open to anyone, or it may be open only to authorised builders, but the principle remains the same. The IP is generally owned by the Class Association, the designer or both.

The big advantage is generally seen as competition between builders.

The big disadvantage is that builders compete on performance, not price, and so the costs can escalate unbelievably. Europe Olympic masts being a case in point.

Another disadvantage is that there is a tendency for classes to be dominated by the "best" builder who may attain near monopoly status.

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Builder led classes are dominated by a builder or consortium/cartel of builders, who typically specify manufacturing tolerances that are not publicly available. To comply with the rules the boat and components must have been manufactured by an authorised builder in accordance with a builders manual, and any measurement is simply to attempt to detect cheating.

The big advantage is generally seem as much less variation between boats.

The big disadvantage is generally seen as lack of competition between builders, and perceived poor value for money.

The one thing that is common across both models is that there is never competition on price within a class. Competition on price is between classes.

Another major disadvantage is that it is definitively a monopoly supplier situation.

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Now we have seen increasing dissatisfaction with monopoly supplier situations from the smaller nations in past ISAF minutes, and now we also have legislative pressure against monopoly supply, resulting in ISAf having to look at classes in that respect. We have also seen, with Laser Performance, problems caused when the cartel of builders fall out or the builders aims no longer coincide with the Class Association.

Should we be looking for a new model?

At the Women's trials that led to the 49erXX one of the options, the Arup Skiff, proposed a concept based on modern ISO9000 manufacture, where multiple builders would be permitted, but there would be very tight controls on manufacture, instead of a measurement based approach, so that components would be as identical as possible. This is exactly the sort of process that is used in industry widely, and also the sort of controls that are necessary if a monopoly builder buys in components from sub contractors. At the time it was rejected as being impractical, but my experience in the high tech industries is that legislative pressure has a wonderful habit of making the impractical practical. I wonder if something like this could be an idea whose time might come?

 

 

 

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I think there will always be an appetite for the monopoly classes. Most people see the act of building a boat as a barrier to entry. Not so much that they can't complete with the best builders, but that they don't have the resources(time, money, skill, other) required to build. I think the Swift Solo has been suffering from this over the years. The other issue is that since the boats aren't popped out of molds, they are a bit more expensive to have one of the few builders to build a boat for you. Oddly, everyone thinks that the hull is the issue. I would say that at least 75% of my Swift is in the rigging. The hull was relatively easy to build and didn't cost a ton for materials. Class rules can be written in such a way that the boats don't become an arms race but at the same time, there isn't much reason to enter arms races in dinghys because there isn't a return on investment other than the thrill of sailing something you've built. We don't attract the big names and the big sponsors like the maxi yachts. 

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1 hour ago, JimC said:

Now we have seen increasing dissatisfaction with monopoly supplier situations

Outside the Olympic classes and the issues with Laser, are we seeing "increasing dissatisfaction"? I don't hear a much dissatisfaction with what's going on with the UFO and RS Sailing has 1000s of happy repeat purchasers. A monopoly is the expected reward for the not inconsiderable cost of bringing a new OD to market with enough volume to succeed. Let's be careful what we wish for.

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2 minutes ago, dogwatch said:

Outside the Olympic classes and the issues with Laser, are we seeing "increasing dissatisfaction"?

I've seen a lot through ISAF minutes, yes. I submit the major SMODs are predominantly from english speaking first world nations. The rest of the world also has plenty of fine boatbuilding companies, but they don't get a look in. But its hardly likely those of us who do live in Aus/USA/NZ/GBR will see much of a problem.

 

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If you consider keelboats there are quite a number of French-built SMODs too, in fact outside J-Boats, probably the major builders of keelboat SMODs are French. And X-Yachts, maybe less than historically. So not all Anglophone.

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2 hours ago, TeamFugu said:

I think there will always be an appetite for the monopoly classes. Most people see the act of building a boat as a barrier to entry. Not so much that they can't complete with the best builders, but that they don't have the resources(time, money, skill, other) required to build. I think the Swift Solo has been suffering from this over the years. The other issue is that since the boats aren't popped out of molds, they are a bit more expensive to have one of the few builders to build a boat for you. Oddly, everyone thinks that the hull is the issue. I would say that at least 75% of my Swift is in the rigging. The hull was relatively easy to build and didn't cost a ton for materials. Class rules can be written in such a way that the boats don't become an arms race but at the same time, there isn't much reason to enter arms races in dinghys because there isn't a return on investment other than the thrill of sailing something you've built. We don't attract the big names and the big sponsors like the maxi yachts. 

+1- In my tiny world of experimentation, I throw away hulls, but not custom made foils, cabon spars (aluminum spars for that matter) , blocks, or sails.  Of course, if anyone is paying to have a hull built, It’s going to get expensive. Iirr, a Paper Jet, professionally built, was multiples of the kit price.  

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Jim describes the two most common models:

1. Class controlled. One design specification controlled via defined measurement.

2. Builder controlled .  One design specification obtained by SMOD (Single Manufacturer One Design) In the Laser Class, there are 2 manufacturers but they share an identical build book.

There is a third model. Class Controlled SMOD.

The Viper 640 is an example of the "close encounter of the third kind" :)

The owner members of the Class Association own and control the IP.  They appoint the builder and approve sailmakers. Instead of allowing builders to work within rules to build the fastest boat that they can, the Viper class members appointed a single builder working from a single build book with a quality/cost/price objective.

We are not the only class of the third kind, but as feedback we can tell you that it works very well.

 

 

 

 

Others have spoken at length about the problems that Builder controlled SMOD classes have experienced like the Laser, Sunfish, RS Elite, Vanguard 15 etc. (i) Legal fights with the builder. (ii) No sanction for poor service . The customer can complain but not punish the builder by taking their business elsewhere(iii) Monopoly or duopoly pricing.  (iv) Changes made to the boat and design without consulting class members. (v) The builder can suspend production at will if not enough volume.

But multi-builder approach also has its own problems:-

(i) One Design. Boats from different builders differ, each seeking to provide a faster mousetrap.

(ii) Price. Owners always want the fastest boat. Nobody wants to save a few thousand dollars and come last. Builders seek to build the fastest boat irrespective of cost.

(iii) Class promotion falls off a cliff from builders. Multi builders do not like to subsidize class promotion. The small builder doesnt feel like paying more than his fair share. The dominant builder does not want to subsidize price competition.   

 

The third approach needs some business skills within the class organization but it can run very well.

 

 

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Most none SMOD classes are classes of the third kind these days aren't they? Or at least a lot of them made the transition in the move from wooden to GRP construction or when a builder decided to stop building boats and the class bought the mold.

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Another issue, which has corrupted most od keelboats (including j24, etchell and Farr 40) is when a licensed builder goes feral, or where bits get modded...think foils in the etchell and f40.

Major championships in the above 3 classes have all been 'won' by non-compliant boats. In Melges also!

So it is a tough problem, even with strong class organizations.

And i guess even the Laser has failed at the basic level of controlling as a true 'no equipment advantage' od.

Which tells us, perhaps like a cherub or I14, simple measurement rules might work better for everyone over time?

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3 hours ago, Frogman56 said:

Another issue, which has corrupted most od keelboats (including j24, etchell and Farr 40) is when a licensed builder goes feral, or where bits get modded...think foils in the etchell and f40.

Major championships in the above 3 classes have all been 'won' by non-compliant boats. In Melges also!

So it is a tough problem, even with strong class organizations.

And i guess even the Laser has failed at the basic level of controlling as a true 'no equipment advantage' od.

Which tells us, perhaps like a cherub or I14, simple measurement rules might work better for everyone over time?

Wouldn't agree on the I14 addition to all of this. I started sailing those in 1990. In Australia the national championships have turned to CRAP (2017 --> 26 boats, 2018 --> 19 boats) and the http://i14vic.com.au/ list NO results nor any upcoming events. We used to get these numbers sailing in the victorian circuit races, around port phillip bay, back int he early 90's!

Seems like people are hanging onto a vision which is far removed from reality!

I think Guy B had it right when he left the class for a SMOD!

 

 

 

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At some point too there comes a point where the number of the second hand boats available is capable of supporting demand, or at least suppress demand for new boats to the point it's uneconomical to build them. Type 1 OD the builders get around this by continual minor innovation (Merlin Rocket) in the same way sail makers make incremental changes to sails in OD classes. Or they build to a high standard at a premium that will support a margin on the the labour and materials involved (505).

The issue there for type 3 is that class associations generally act to protect the value of their existing boats.

...

Aussie interest in 14s dropped off about the time they merged the rules didn't it?

 

 

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5 hours ago, Frogman56 said:

 

Which tells us, perhaps like a cherub or I14, simple measurement rules might work better for everyone over time?

I sailed in such a class for a while. It's a fun game but the cost premium is for a minority. At least 50% higher than a similar SMOD.

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7 hours ago, dogwatch said:

I sailed in such a class for a while. It's a fun game but the cost premium is for a minority. At least 50% higher than a similar SMOD.

I would figure that the time premium is something that hits most people unless you've plenty of cash to pay someone else. Not developing your boat due to being restrained in a SMOD class would be a good thing.

 

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All valid points, but when the integrity of the od is compromised, what do have left? 

Not very much!

And this is the situation now of the Laser, F40, Etchell, to name a few.

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If the OD boats are developed enough that further development is futile would that create a better class? If the class bit the bullet and modified the rules such that improvements were already incorporated or easily banned those avenues for development would be cut-off. Control what you can, open up what you can't control. The class association should always have a significant say in how the boats are made, the whole laser class fiasco should be avoided.

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In theory yes, but the builders are usually first to go into the grey zone, difficult for the ca to police, and then often progress to outright illegality

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6 hours ago, Ncik said:

The class association should always have a significant say in how the boats are made, the whole laser class fiasco should be avoided.

I used to "work" (i.e. volunteer) for a SMOD class association and negotiated rule changes with the class rules holder, which in our case was the MNA. They'd only agree changes if all of their technical department, the class association and the manufacturer agreed. In practical terms it is next to impossible for a manufacturer class association to take actions with which the manufacturer does not agree. For starters, the manufacturer owns drawings and specifications which are essential to build the boats and are referenced in the class rules but are only available to the manufacturer(s).

Usually this works out. The manufacturer and the class association both want the class to succeed. Laser is however an Awful Warning of what can go wrong.

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Yup. The manufacturer does want the class to suceed. But then... a mate of a mate of the production 2ic gets a special that comes off the line late Friday. So then the mate is suddenly closer to the front of the fleet. And the mate tells his mate. So the mate of the mate of the mate coughs an extra 200 folding and gets a slightly better special...... repeat, repeat.

And about 2 years later the OD is essentially rooted.

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While I'm paying for my 15 year olds boats i prefer OD not necessarily SMOD .It does tend to limit the arms race to a slight degree .

But when it comes to my own boats i do tend to favour Box rule classes . I have always found great satisfaction in putting my own slant into designs and rigging .

And there in I suppose is the underling issue with the cost spiral associated with those types of classes .

But incredibly rewarding when it all goes right .

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22 hours ago, Frogman56 said:

In theory yes, but the builders are usually first to go into the grey zone, difficult for the ca to police, and then often progress to outright illegality

It is easy, but a little costly, to test a hulls construction. Thinking of the laser, two boats from different builders and/or generations can be bought, flex tests done, hulls weighed and pitch gyradius measured, hull tokens cut out from various places and tested for panel weight, fibre content, even stiffness and strength if required. If they don't match reasonably well then ask the builders to please explain. The tests should be laid out in the construction plans with variability allowances clearly set-out. The builders really do have a contract with the "class" to ensure they are building boats that are suitable for the class, even if it isn't a written contract. It's in the builders and classes best interests. Infact I'd be surprised if this isn't already done in the laser, but other classes could also do this.

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9 hours ago, Ncik said:

It is easy, but a little costly, to test a hulls construction. Thinking of the laser, two boats from different builders and/or generations can be bought, flex tests done, hulls weighed and pitch gyradius measured, hull tokens cut out from various places and tested for panel weight, fibre content, even stiffness and strength if required. If they don't match reasonably well then ask the builders to please explain. The tests should be laid out in the construction plans with variability allowances clearly set-out. The builders really do have a contract with the "class" to ensure they are building boats that are suitable for the class, even if it isn't a written contract. It's in the builders and classes best interests. Infact I'd be surprised if this isn't already done in the laser, but other classes could also do this.

As being someone who has seen the internals of multiple Lasers over a number of years i can most definately say there has been differences in construction and quality. Most being acceptable ranging right through to not .

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On 5/21/2018 at 8:10 AM, dogwatch said:

If you consider keelboats there are quite a number of French-built SMODs too, in fact outside J-Boats, probably the major builders of keelboat SMODs are French.

Lots of J Boats have been, and are being, built in France (J Composites).

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On 5/21/2018 at 7:44 AM, JimC said:

I've seen a lot through ISAF minutes

ZZZZZZZ .....

boring-marketing-content.jpg

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On 5/24/2018 at 3:02 AM, dogwatch said:

I used to "work" (i.e. volunteer) for a SMOD class association and negotiated rule changes with the class rules holder, which in our case was the MNA. They'd only agree changes if all of their technical department, the class association and the manufacturer agreed. In practical terms it is next to impossible for a manufacturer class association to take actions with which the manufacturer does not agree. For starters, the manufacturer owns drawings and specifications which are essential to build the boats and are referenced in the class rules but are only available to the manufacturer(s).

Usually this works out. The manufacturer and the class association both want the class to succeed. Laser is however an Awful Warning of what can go wrong.

This works fine as long as the class and builder are on the same page.  This worked well for the Laser in the 70s when there were a lot of people getting it sailing, the class is growing, and the builder is a sailor first and a businessman second.

Now compare that to the fiasco of the last few years.  The market demand is down due to both a shitty economy and a general decline of sailing as a recreational activity.  Add to the mix a builder whose owner doesn't give a rat's ass about sailing.  There is no longer an incentive to cooperate and get along.

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On 5/21/2018 at 8:10 AM, dogwatch said:

If you consider keelboats there are quite a number of French-built SMODs too, in fact outside J-Boats, probably the major builders of keelboat SMODs are French. And X-Yachts, maybe less than historically. So not all Anglophone.

those arent really SMODs... They're boat designers and manufacturers, and you can't really get someone to build a J109 for you other than whoever J boats has contracted to build them, but they're not SMOD's. Sort of like racing Miatas or Porches, i guess (i dont race cars). SMOD's are when you can't even decide who to get your sails from, your spars from, your foils, etc. 

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All those Platus, Beneateau 8 and Funs were certainly SMODs and built in large volumes. Some SMODs allow you to choose sailmaker, some don't. Laser is not the only model of how to be a SMOD.

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On 5/25/2018 at 7:15 PM, Justaquickone said:

As being someone who has seen the internals of multiple Lasers over a number of years i can most definately say there has been differences in construction and quality. Most being acceptable ranging right through to not .

Yikes.

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Finns have shown the benefits of the DeLambolay (I spelled that wrong!) pendulum test- there must be other tests to the effective build, unless it’s more like the IC & built around sail area, weight, etc. although the ReinJolle class was pretty cool in the 29’s and 30’s

but really there’s no such thing as a SMOD, unless you built them with strictly controlled nano tech or 3D printing...

 

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Single Manufacturer One Design; i think there is such a thing and you don't need nano tech or 3D printing to achieve that. Of course making a boat to one design does not mean they will be identical... for that you certainly would need high level technology.  

The SMOD term does seem to have a few different formats however. But I feel the principle is the same: you should be able to buy a boat capable of winning a championships with no selection of kit / upgrades. That the competition is on the water only. 

Plenty of classes call themselves one design or development, but in reality they're all box rules with varying numbers of dimensions defining the shape of the box. These give sailors the chance to compete off the water with equipment design. It's a nice part of the sport for many reasons. But I feel its fallen short with a crunch on peoples time and money, but most significantly the access to the technology required in manufacturing. In the UK very few people are home building championship winning boats nowadays. Whilst many may pay some attention to equipment choice, i think it's predominantly lead by what the fashion is / what the sail-maker tells them is best. To me it feels like when both sailors are building / modding their own boats, it's still a competition between those two sailors. When one is just buying the best equipment made by a top supplier then it loses some sporting merit (at least at an amateur level). 

So for the moment, for me, the best fleets seem to be SMOD, which has plenty of flaws, but it just feels like a more accessible competition. Maybe 3D printing will bring the design and manufacturer back to the average Joe? 

 

As for the ISO approach; this if fine for business where people will buy a part that functions for the lowest price, forcing companies to compete on price so long as they can hit the standard.  But people buying for a competitive hobby will buy the best they can afford and will often buy what surpasses a standard. Builders competing intra-class don't do it on cost, they compete on perceived performance. The limit on price is really competition with other classes, or that they don't reduce their potential market size too much by going too high.  

The ISO approach isn't actually very different from what 9ers are doing. Multiple manufactures building to a prescribed standard. Except in the 9er case, they are stopped from competing by geographical separation.  A lack of competition is good if you want to keep prices down and you think that competition will be done on performance rather than price. Obviously you then have monopoly where neither price nor quality can be chosen by the consumer. But as long as you have a sensible person controlling the right, and running competitive tendering for the right to monopoly then then you can keep quality up and price down (depending on how the assess the tender). 

 

 

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On 5/21/2018 at 3:43 PM, Mambo Kings said:

Jim describes the two most common models:

1. Class controlled. One design specification controlled via defined measurement.

2. Builder controlled .  One design specification obtained by SMOD (Single Manufacturer One Design) In the Laser Class, there are 2 manufacturers but they share an identical build book.

There is a third model. Class Controlled SMOD.

The Viper 640 is an example of the "close encounter of the third kind" :)

The owner members of the Class Association own and control the IP.  They appoint the builder and approve sailmakers. Instead of allowing builders to work within rules to build the fastest boat that they can, the Viper class members appointed a single builder working from a single build book with a quality/cost/price objective.

We are not the only class of the third kind, but as feedback we can tell you that it works very well.

 

 

 

 

Others have spoken at length about the problems that Builder controlled SMOD classes have experienced like the Laser, Sunfish, RS Elite, Vanguard 15 etc. (i) Legal fights with the builder. (ii) No sanction for poor service . The customer can complain but not punish the builder by taking their business elsewhere(iii) Monopoly or duopoly pricing.  (iv) Changes made to the boat and design without consulting class members. (v) The builder can suspend production at will if not enough volume.

But multi-builder approach also has its own problems:-

(i) One Design. Boats from different builders differ, each seeking to provide a faster mousetrap.

(ii) Price. Owners always want the fastest boat. Nobody wants to save a few thousand dollars and come last. Builders seek to build the fastest boat irrespective of cost.

(iii) Class promotion falls off a cliff from builders. Multi builders do not like to subsidize class promotion. The small builder doesnt feel like paying more than his fair share. The dominant builder does not want to subsidize price competition.   

 

The third approach needs some business skills within the class organization but it can run very well.

 

 

A bit more about the Class Controlled SMOD approach.

The essence of the Viper 640 model is that it is not a class controlled box rule.  It is truly class controlled manufacture. The Class appoints the builder and owns the build book. In effect it is most similar to Melges and/or RS (both of who own the design and build book and appoint 3rd party builders to build identical boats) EXCEPT that the class association owners are in control.

The Vipers builder cannot deliberately build better boats because the mandate from the class is to build as close as possible identical boats.  The class owns 3d laser scans of the hull and foil shape.

The Viper builder cannot exert monopoly pricing because the Class can review pricing.  We seek to ensure that the builder has a very healthy profit margin ( a profitable builder is essential to any successful OD class)  However if we identified price gouging, there would be a respectful conversation. In our case, Rondar totally understands than one of the four pillars of the Viper's success is "affordability" so we have never had this problem. On the contrary we have healthy discussions about how to balance keeping the cost of a new boat compelling vs the occasional additional feature.  You might be surprised to discover that most of the conversations stem from the executives of the owners class association looking to add a new feature as standard on a new boat and Rondar pricing up the cost increase to a new boat so that we can have an informed decision. 

Over time,  I (admittedly biased)  think that class and builder have done an extraordinary job of providing a new boat which has stayed modern and relevant at a compelling price point.  We have 3 cost advantages (inside the Class we call it Vipernomics):-

1. Owners are buying their boat directly from the builder. There is no middleman, no brand owner and no dealer network.   This is huge compared to RS or J Boats where typically the dealer, importer and license owner would have to make anywhere from 30% to 100% at this price point above the price that it left the factory door.  The Viper model is the equivalent of buying an RS or J boat directly from their subcontracted builder. 

2. The builder (and thus the owner) pays no royalty fee for the boat design.  The Class controls and owns the right to build the Viper 640 and naturally we want the boat to be affordable and the class to grow. Our objective is not to make money on new boats , but in fact to subsidize the growth of the Class. We have plenty of alternative revenue sources (this is a very well funded class association) so we do not need to generate revenues from new boats.

3. The Class provides a significant portion of the cost and resources associated with promoting the class and the boat.  The power of volunteer driven promotion activity should not be underestimated. It would cost hundreds of thousands to replicate. Importantly , it is layered on top of a substantial and well managed promotion budget run by a professional class administrator who ensures that the "Viper grass roots army"  is supported by a cloud based digital library, crm software, social media management etc.

   

I have over-simplified the Viper approach by calling it "Class Controlled SMOD".   Of course, there is nothing to stop the International Viper Class Association from appointing more than one builder.  Our constitution, builders contract and World Sailing contract allow us to do that.  However we find there are several advantages in a closely supervised single manufacturer relationship.   The reasons for that decision would provide material for another post as least as long as this one :)

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1 hour ago, Mambo Kings said:

the class association owners are in control...

Very interesting. Thanks for fleshing that out. Couple questions...

  • Is there boatbuilding/manufacturing know-how in the Class leadership? How does the Class maintain control over quality, in practice? I am more interested in how QC is implemented (ie: volunteers spot checking a % of the boats? do folks live near the builder...?) than in the possible penalties to the builder ;-) -- this is usually an important role that RS or J would fulfill.
  • How was the class "bootstrapped" and how did it come to this economic/political arrangement?

I've been involved in large & complex projects driven by grassroots participation and governance, and it works wonders for some stuff (software) if the leadership has the right know-how... but manufacturing is a really hard nut to crack. Hence my curiosity.

If we can understand the ingredients and recipe a bit better, maybe we can make it happen more often :-)

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1 hour ago, martin.langhoff said:

Very interesting. Thanks for fleshing that out. Couple questions...

  • Is there boatbuilding/manufacturing know-how in the Class leadership? How does the Class maintain control over quality, in practice? I am more interested in how QC is implemented (ie: volunteers spot checking a % of the boats? do folks live near the builder...?) than in the possible penalties to the builder ;-) -- this is usually an important role that RS or J would fulfill.
  • How was the class "bootstrapped" and how did it come to this economic/political arrangement?

I've been involved in large & complex projects driven by grassroots participation and governance, and it works wonders for some stuff (software) if the leadership has the right know-how... but manufacturing is a really hard nut to crack. Hence my curiosity.

If we can understand the ingredients and recipe a bit better, maybe we can make it happen more often :-)

Hello Martin,

In the case of the Viper there was an element of fortuitous timing of the right opportunity and the right people coming together at the right time which will be hard to replicate.  More on that in a moment.  The Viper still has some unique advantages as a result of how it came about. 

However I think a variation of the model can still be created in other classes.  My personal opinion is that it requires 3 characteristics.

1. An attractive boat that is sufficiently fun, contemporary and relevant to have scale.  Dont even contemplate trying to do this with your favorite classic design that dwindled a few years ago and you would love to get back on its feet.  I am sure I am not alone in having a favorite that I sailed for many years and still love but its down to a couple of local fleets and no builder.  The numbers dont matter so much as the design and the niche it fills. Be sure that it will have genuine appeal across a wide audience  and is not just something that you personally happen to love.

2. A Class organization that can provide a leadership team that blends some genuine organization leadership skills and are prepared to do that in a democratic "service to our class" manner.  "Think not what your class can do for you but what you can do for your class". Avoid politics. Be businesslike. Involve the owners.

3.  A builder prepared to be a true partner in the project (and a willingness on the class owners part to work as partners and make the project profitable for the builder) 

The project can originate from an existing class that wants to energize or it can originate from a designer prepared to try a different economic model.

To avoid harping on about the Viper I will take the risk of mentioning a class that I have zero connection with. 

As an existing class, I know next-to-nothing about the Firefly Class but I know that they had a renaissance when they partnered up with Rondar. Since they share the same builder I have observed a couple of things at a distance: 

They  understand their niche and relevance. It has defined itself as a brilliant boat for team racing and college/school sailing that couples can use for fleet racing.

They took a boat defined by measurement rules to a well known  builder and instructed the builder to take certain steps to modernize the boat and then build a strict One Design boat. Again, I dont know the details and Im sure there was lots of discussion and negotiation to define that boat but they resolved a one design boat.

I have never met Ed Smith (Chairman) or Chris and Liz Kameen or Alannah Herbert or Nigel Wakefield Guy Davison etc etc NFA committee but they resonate teamwork. They have leadership roles dedicated to publicity, website and bulletins. They have secured sponsorship. They have an active circuit. They have a junior cup. They have a person dedicated to liaison with institutional and university fleets.  They have an active circuit that is well publicized. They have an active builder selling boats.  Im 2000+ miles away  but this feels like a well managed class.

They are a class controlled SMOD.  It does not surprise me that they are growing and even in this day and age, can attract 31 boats to a week long national championship.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Daniel Holman said:

Sounds cool and agree that  avolunteer is worth 16 pressed men but where is class assoc revenue coming from? High fees?

Viper Class fees are only $55 per boat. 

In our case, we want everyone to join the class.  It doesn't matter if you potter around in your Viper at your local club with the kids dangling their feet in the water and fishing for striper off the stern. It doesnt matter if you are the local stalwart at the Weds night PHRF series. It doesnt matter if you put together a grand prix team of mates to do the full on one-design circuit in Sarasota.  We want to include everyone and offer help and advice for everyone.  We provide repair tips for 15 year old boats who want to get around the local club course on a saturday afternoon and tuning clinics for those planning to go to the World Championships in Long Beach. $55 per boat per annum.

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Your class message is also important:

 

The four pillars of the Viper Class are:

1. Simple and Easy.  This is an easy boat to sail.   If you can sail a Cape Cod Mercury, an RS Feva,  a Rhodes 19 , a Laser, a Sonar,  a J105, a JY 15 a Vanguard 15, a 505,...etc etc, then you can sail a Viper.  For years and years, sailors and boat designers equated high performance with a high degree of difficulty.   Our mission  was (and is) to make a fast and exciting boat so easy to sail that anyone can do it.   It is a boat that gives  the thrill of sailing fast to the retired 505 sailor as well as the guy or gal coming out of an Ideal 18 that wants something that will entice his sons and daughters to sail with them.  It is used by junior programs in the Gulf and as a high performance race boat by ex-olympians and TP52 helms when they come home and want to race with their families.

2.  Fast , Fun and Exciting  .   Contemporary fast lightweight sport boat hull and carbon rig   (but a large enough bulb to make the boat pass the international self righting standard).  Fun also includes a "fun crowd" with great people gathering in great locations.

3.  Strict One Design as supplied by the builder.  Sheet in and go. Dont even think of fairing or tweaking your boat (other than specified exceptions in the rules, the boat must be sailed as supplied)

4. Affordable. Vipernomics make a compelling price point when you buy the boat.   The Class Association takes over after that and ensures that you are racing against all your friends, not just the friends that can afford to race against you.  We were "first mover" with a unique rule that was approved by World Sailing that says that nobody can be paid to race aboard a Viper (based on a definition of paid that WS finalized) .  We encourage , support and subsidize (with sponsorship) a regatta circuit that is affordable.  You will be racing against plumbers, students and Silicon Valley CEOs with one thing in common...the joy of sailing fast one design boats.

Enough about the Viper before the "thread hijack" accusations start (rightly) coming in.   But I truly only meant to illustrate that a Class is helped a lot if it has a passionate mission.

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Mambo Kings said:

They are a class controlled SMOD.  It does not surprise me that they are growing and even in this day and age, can attract 31 boats to a week long national championship.

Ironically, 31 boats is their worst attendance since Rondar took over and puts them as only 19th most popular double-hander boat in terms of nationals attendance. With the exception of their 70th anniversary champs in 2016 they've not got over 50 boats to a nationals in six years. So... in terms of fleet racing you'll find no evidence they are growing, least of all in the 31 boats they had to their nationals last year.

In competition, the older restored boats are very competitive. You want old boat to be competitive, but when 40 year old boats are winning nationals that might be a big issue in a lot of classes as it restricts new boat sales and profitability for the builder and restricts the second hand market for entrants to the class... this is sounding very negative, so bear with me... however, Rondar do very well out of the team racing fleets and with the long history of the firefly class they have plenty of old boats sat about to never have to worry too much about the 2nd hand market. 

Where the Rondar relationship has been most successful is in their domination of the team racing niche in the UK. Interestingly, the RS200 was seen by RS as a good team racing boat and it was no doubt hoped it could take over from the firefly / albacore in varsity and the N12 on the championship fleet racing scene (the firefly was requested a team racing version of the N12). The N12 has always been a very open class, so I don't think the option to SMOD themselves was ever there but they have struggled for numbers since the arrival of the RS200. However, the firefly went to Rondar pretty much the same or a year or two after the RS200 was launched. The firefly has always been pretty much a SMOD, but with the class owning the molds and going to rondar I think it saved them from take over by the RS200s in their team racing niche. 

They are a excellently run class association,  with some great people in the class and I believe the standard at their fleet events is far higher than the modest numbers might suggest. 

They are one of only five two-person adult classes in the UK to get a nationals entry over 100 this century (60th anniversary regatta). With a nationals at Abersoch this summer, a very popular venue, I'm sure they'll see improved attendance.  

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