LOL! I am with you. I think the Laser SB3 is (if you average all conditions and same skill level sailors) going to be faster than everything but the Viper. SA/D and everything else aside...
Ill say it again...who cares what boat is faster. Heres the deal, they are all pretty slow upwind but even and fun tactically in big fleets. downwind they plane and go 15 kts! Yeah! If you want to go fast buy a power boat, a Maxi boat or a catamaran! I promise that you will be the fastest!
If we are still worried about PHRF racing these boats we seriously need help. All of the boats have a little niche but are essentially the EXACT SAME THING with different actors. The Viper guys have their cast anf script...fast affordable fun boat (and they are growing, fast!). We all know the Melges game, fun boats, fleet development but very expensive to buy and maintain. I really liked the SB3 and and Open 5.7 guys in Chicago, also great people! At the end of the day...its not about the boat its about the people who choose to buy them...and partially about the people who build and sell them.
If you really want to get into this, the SB3...DOMINATES...all of the other classes in terms of overall success. It will take many years to catch them in any scenario. The Viper and U20 are basically second although the Viper has tremendous momentum. In North America (which matters perhaps most) its probably now Viper by a mile, followed by the U20, Open 5.7 (15 boats in North America), Melges 20 (12 boats in North America, 40 in the world), Laser SB3 (10 boats in North America, 400+ in the world)...etc.
I think all that really matters is this ratio:
Cost of boat (all up) / number of other boats at various regatta's = value (Fun per dollar ratio)
Without doing research, total guess at the numbers here is an example...
Graded on a curve of course!
30k / 30 (average boats per major regatta) = 1.0 FPDR (Fun per dollar ratio) A
35k / 15 (average boats per major regatta) = .42 FPDR (Fun per dollar ratio) B
25k / 6 (average boats per major regatta) = .24 (Fun per dollar ratio) C+
50k / 6 (average boats per major regatta) = .12 FPDR (Fun per dollar ratio) D-
30k / 6 (average boats per major regatta) = .20 FPDR (Fun per dollar ratio) C-
Of many owners have or are basically buying futures in there boats, and some of them got a little discount for buying in early. But this is how it stands right now, and this is how I see it. It has nothing to do with certain boats being 9 seconds a miles faster than another in 15 kts. Who cares!
The Viper and the U20 couldn't be much more different and still be 20 footers (both nearly 21').
I do find them pretty close in performance with the BIG difference being the Viper planes in less breeze.
I've read several posts suggesting that the U20 is close in performance to the Viper.
No disrespect to the U20 owners......but there is a real disconnect here. This would suggest that the U20 is faster than the SB3 and the Melges 20. I just find that incredibly hard to believe.
I have never watched any racing where Vipers and U20s are on the same race course so I have no first hand knowledge but I've looked at both boats out the water and in the water and my disbelief grows.
Another data point is the comments from West coast sailors about racing between U 20s and Open 5.70 s, where the Open 5.70 keeps up with the U20 in stronger winds. I did watch Open 5.70 vs the Vipers vs SB3s at Newport last year from a spectator boat in windy conditions. The Open 570 was clearly not in the same league as the Viper, and slower than the SB3. Where would the U20 have been in that line up?
Final data point? I know how unreliable PHRF is, Really know because most of my racing is PHRF. BUT the Viper rates about 105 and the Ultimate 20 rates about 145. That's a huge spread, even for our PHRF measurers.
Frankly guys, I dont believe you. The attraction of the U20 is that you have a little cabin to go below. Whatever it is you are smoking down there, it must be goooood!