Front page screed

fastyacht

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Which clashes with my experience as a child in dinghies seeing a British AC 12m entry outside the earls court boat show in seeing a bloated, boring lead mine which had nothing in common with "my" sailing.
It can be argued that foilers have nothing in common either, but I would have at least found them more interesting
You were not properly aspirational. And besides, 12 metres are small open boats--you just had too short a yardstick.
 

Curious2

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As for technology, All I can say is: RELIANCE

But straight after Reliance, the NYYC changed the rules to get rid of such extreme boats, and went to the Universal Rule that Nat had designed because he felt that yachts, including AC yachts, should be more seaworthy and practical. So, of course, did Lipton who wrote of his wish for a "more wholesome and seaworthy type of boat" and eventually won when the Universal Rule was adopted in the AC. So many of the greatest names in the AC felt that it should NOT be sailed in something as radical as Reliance, but in more mainstream boats like the Js which used the same rule as smaller club-racing boats. Reliance is arguably such an outlier that she can't be used as an examplar.

Obviously like most end rating or development-class events, the AC has a lot of stress on technology, but as you would probably know its reputation for being the leading edge is vastly over-rated. Maria was faster and far closer to the leading edge than America. Boats like Oimara, Dora, Doris, Niagara, Madge, Gloriana, Wasp, the small Raters, the 15, 20 and 22 Footers, giant scows like Cartoon, the Herreshoff cats, Stormvogel, Windward Passage, the wing-masted ground-effect twin-skin sail foiling tri Charles Hiedsick,Paul Ricard, Pen Duicks III, IV and V, Ragtime and Nyria were definitely closer to the leading edge than their AC contemporaries. And as Anarchist David implies, when both the AC and sailboat racing were at their strongest, the AC was far from being the leading edge of the sport - it was closer to the mainstream and lessons from the AC could be applied easily to the popular yachts. Foilers are great but despite the hype, the undeniable truth is that foiling boats are still a very small niche, and one that's growing very slowly at about 300 boats worldwide per year (ie about 40 A Class per year, not all of them foilers; 220 Waszps, 75 Moths, a dozen N17s, etc).
 

fastyacht

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But straight after Reliance, the NYYC changed the rules to get rid of such extreme boats, and went to the Universal Rule that Nat had designed because he felt that yachts, including AC yachts, should be more seaworthy and practical. So, of course, did Lipton who wrote of his wish for a "more wholesome and seaworthy type of boat" and eventually won when the Universal Rule was adopted in the AC. So many of the greatest names in the AC felt that it should NOT be sailed in something as radical as Reliance, but in more mainstream boats like the Js which used the same rule as smaller club-racing boats. Reliance is arguably such an outlier that she can't be used as an examplar.

Obviously like most end rating or development-class events, the AC has a lot of stress on technology, but as you would probably know its reputation for being the leading edge is vastly over-rated. Maria was faster and far closer to the leading edge than America. Boats like Oimara, Dora, Doris, Niagara, Madge, Gloriana, Wasp, the small Raters, the 15, 20 and 22 Footers, giant scows like Cartoon, the Herreshoff cats, Stormvogel, Windward Passage, the wing-masted ground-effect twin-skin sail foiling tri Charles Hiedsick,Paul Ricard, Pen Duicks III, IV and V, Ragtime and Nyria were definitely closer to the leading edge than their AC contemporaries. And as Anarchist David implies, when both the AC and sailboat racing were at their strongest, the AC was far from being the leading edge of the sport - it was closer to the mainstream and lessons from the AC could be applied easily to the popular yachts. Foilers are great but despite the hype, the undeniable truth is that foiling boats are still a very small niche, and one that's growing very slowly at about 300 boats worldwide per year (ie about 40 A Class per year, not all of them foilers; 220 Waszps, 75 Moths, a dozen N17s, etc).
there are a lot more UFO each year than N17 lol

But yes short sweet essay--proper points. And CHARLES HIEDSICK is one of my all time favorite weird boats of the 80s. I remember it in SAIL magazine. "Oh, right, so those B24 Liberator wings are going to help it fly?" As I remember it she had surface peircing foils on her stubby underlength amas. Pretty cool. For a moment it seemed like WILLIWAW would be reincarnated but we had to wait LONG time for L'hydroptère.

Without a doubt, with some curious exceptions, the overall arc of America's Cup technology is follow/apply uctting edge from somewhere else, not lead. Well yes lead, er, plumbum. Look at what happened when the more recent crop needed to know how to sail hydrofoils--they all went and bought MOTHS and various (even some C class?) cats.
 

sunseeker

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I think Sunseeker was alluding to the minimum waterline length in the DoG while foiling.
Yes, correct.

Part of what I’m saying is that the subsection of the deed that allows for free agent attorneys to HAVE an argument over whether not HAVING a regatta means you can plan one for the future could make bank with a foiling doesn’t meet waterline requirements suit.
 

Curious2

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there are a lot more UFO each year than N17 lol

But yes short sweet essay--proper points. And CHARLES HIEDSICK is one of my all time favorite weird boats of the 80s. I remember it in SAIL magazine. "Oh, right, so those B24 Liberator wings are going to help it fly?" As I remember it she had surface peircing foils on her stubby underlength amas. Pretty cool. For a moment it seemed like WILLIWAW would be reincarnated but we had to wait LONG time for L'hydroptère.

Without a doubt, with some curious exceptions, the overall arc of America's Cup technology is follow/apply uctting edge from somewhere else, not lead. Well yes lead, er, plumbum. Look at what happened when the more recent crop needed to know how to sail hydrofoils--they all went and bought MOTHS and various (even some C class?) cats.

The AC guys mainly got A Class cats, but yep, the way the AC guys got into them shows exactly where the cutting edge lies.

Re the UFO; I was mainly looking at classes that had widely established racing circuits. A while ago they were making 120 UFOs p.a., apparently, and there's about 100 Skeetas coming out annually as well bringing the total to around 500+ foiling boats p.a. On the other hand, it looks as though the Flying Phantom, Praying Mantis, Whisper, Quant 23 and many other foilers are basically out of production and even the I Fly seems to only get about 10 boats to a regatta, very occasionally.

After all the money that has gone into promoting foiling (and it's a bundle of fun and creates amazing machines) and after almost two decades of modern foiling and over a decade of AC foiling, those are very small numbers. There were 2169 new ILCAs and 500 new Aeros in 2021, for comparison. Surprisingly the new Olympic foiling windsurfer (775 built 2021) is being outsold by boards like the Windsurfer LT (new version of the 12' original windsurfer) although in many ways boards seem to be the obvious match for foils. Open class windsurfer foiling apparently isn't that big, outside France where it's very strong. France also has the biggest kitefoiling fleet at a surprisingly small 300 compared to the USA's 180.

For some reason, bringing up this reality ignites some people (most of them guys who have never foiled) who think it's an attack on the foilers. It's definitely not that; I've owned and loved a whole bunch of classes that are very fast but not very popular. Reality doesn't play favourites, and we have to realise that the vast majority of people don't care about high speed.

Anyway, the point is that the foiling boats are a very small niche, foiling cats are a fraction of that, and therefore the modern AC boats are NOT as representative of the sport as most of the earlier classes, which were often just big versions of the normal Raters, Universal Rule and Metre classes that formed a considerable proportion of racing fleets around the world, or which used similar tech and techniques to mainstream yachts.

 

Sailbydate

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But straight after Reliance, the NYYC changed the rules to get rid of such extreme boats, and went to the Universal Rule that Nat had designed because he felt that yachts, including AC yachts, should be more seaworthy and practical. So, of course, did Lipton who wrote of his wish for a "more wholesome and seaworthy type of boat" and eventually won when the Universal Rule was adopted in the AC. So many of the greatest names in the AC felt that it should NOT be sailed in something as radical as Reliance, but in more mainstream boats like the Js which used the same rule as smaller club-racing boats. Reliance is arguably such an outlier that she can't be used as an examplar.

Obviously like most end rating or development-class events, the AC has a lot of stress on technology, but as you would probably know its reputation for being the leading edge is vastly over-rated. Maria was faster and far closer to the leading edge than America. Boats like Oimara, Dora, Doris, Niagara, Madge, Gloriana, Wasp, the small Raters, the 15, 20 and 22 Footers, giant scows like Cartoon, the Herreshoff cats, Stormvogel, Windward Passage, the wing-masted ground-effect twin-skin sail foiling tri Charles Hiedsick,Paul Ricard, Pen Duicks III, IV and V, Ragtime and Nyria were definitely closer to the leading edge than their AC contemporaries. And as Anarchist David implies, when both the AC and sailboat racing were at their strongest, the AC was far from being the leading edge of the sport - it was closer to the mainstream and lessons from the AC could be applied easily to the popular yachts. Foilers are great but despite the hype, the undeniable truth is that foiling boats are still a very small niche, and one that's growing very slowly at about 300 boats worldwide per year (ie about 40 A Class per year, not all of them foilers; 220 Waszps, 75 Moths, a dozen N17s, etc).
If you include foil assisted classes (especially of the French varieties) the foiling universe is accelerating much faster than you suggest.
 

Curious2

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If you include foil assisted classes (especially of the French varieties) the foiling universe is accelerating much faster than you suggest.

If you look at numbers rather than hype, I suggest it's not.

There's 24 IMOCA 60s in the rankings, not all of them foilers. The foil-assisted Figaro IIIs don't seem to be doing at all well. There's 34 of them in the main event for the class - the previous non-foilers don't seem to have ever got less than 50 entries.

Let's compare those numbers with the production figures achieved in earlier eras. There were 600 or 900 (I've forgotten) Beneteau 40.7s, 5,500 J/24s plus 1550 of the similar Surprises, 1400 Albin Expresses, etc. That's the sort of numbers we need to increase or maintain the popularity of the sport, and not a single foiler has gotten anywhere near it.

In a world with (if I recall correctly) 25,000 PHRF boats, 7000 or so IRC boats, about 7000 ORC boats and many thousands of other craft, some 50 semi-foilers is not an "acceleration" of the slightest significance, especially since semi-foiling dates back to boats like Paul Ricard, Charles Hiedsick and VSD of the 'late '70s or early '80s. That seems to suggest pretty strongly that they are not a promotional tool that will make the sport more popular, as often claimed.

I can remember the same sort of things being said about water ballasted boats ("just wait, they will take over"), canters ("just you wait, this is the new style"), offshore multis ("yes, I know we had bigger fleets in the 1960s but just you wait, one day......"), skiffs ("the future of sailing" said the head of EUROSAF) and in all of those cases, the hype was BS. The boats were, and are, great, but they are simply failures at achieving significant widespread popularity (apart from the 29er, which hasn't lead to skiffs becoming more widespread) and at promoting sailing to return to health as people claim they will. The same applies to many of the classes I have sailed, owned and loved.

What foiler are you sailing? If they are not good enough for you, why are they going to be good enough for lots of other people?

At what stage do we start accepting the reality as shown by the numbers, and rejecting the fantasy as shown by the hypesters?

As someone who used to be in awe of the Kiwi scene, I find it sad today how bad fleet numbers are looking outside of Auckland. The UK and Australia, which have not been into the AC hype as much, seem to get far more people out there racing, per capita, than places outside Orcland these days. My own little town has more sailors than Kiwi towns with similar geography and populations five times the size, or more. Last time I looked at the SPARC surveys they looked pretty dire. Given the incredible wealth and talent of NZ sailing, the recent course of NZ sailing seems tragic to anyone outside the tiny number who are earning big bucks from the AC. Spencer, Mander and others must be turning in their graves so fast they'd be overheating. For the sake of the sport we love, and those who worked so hard to build it, surely we should start looking at reality instead of bullshit.
 
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dogwatch

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Let's compare those numbers with the production figures achieved in earlier eras. There were 600 or 900 (I've forgotten) Beneteau 40.7s, 5,500 J/24s plus 1550 of the similar Surprises, 1400 Albin Expresses, etc. That's the sort of numbers we need to increase or maintain the popularity of the sport, and not a single foiler has gotten anywhere near it.

In a world with (if I recall correctly) 25,000 PHRF boats, 7000 or so IRC boats, about 7000 ORC boats and many thousands of other craft, some 50 semi-foilers is not an "acceleration" of the slightest significance, especially since semi-foiling dates back to boats like Paul Ricard, Charles Hiedsick and VSD of the 'late '70s or early '80s. That seems to suggest pretty strongly that they are not a promotional tool that will make the sport more popular, as often claimed.
You seem rather fixated on keelboats. Where I sail in the UK, Moths and their offshoots have been popular for years and foiling boards are increasingly being seen. Racing of keelboats seems to be, unfortunately, in a slow but steady decline.
 

estarzinger

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I personally have way 'less' interest in foils(ing) than keelboats simply because I don't and probably never will have any experience or identity with it. I say "less" because I am still a bit idly curious about the technology and physics.

My bigger 'issue' with the direction the Pro sailors have tried to monetize the AC is two fold: I am simply not interested in watching a pro regatta and I don't find the personalities nor motivations of the main pro player very interesting (compared to the past active/involved B's). And the current 'monetization' approach seems to derive/be grounded in screwing taxpayers and local corrupt practices.

I watch the tour de France (live) - which is '90% boring TV' but I identify and empathize with the riders - I did not watch the last AC and probably will not the next (after watching most of the prior ones live).

They have essentially killed the AC for me, with just the little technology curiosity remaining. But I am an old guy who grew up with keelboats and the 'B's', idk but perhaps younger folk feel differently.
 

Curious2

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Dogwatch, given that my second post dealt with boards, cats and dinghies (all of which I sail) I can't see why you came to that conclusion. I only referred to keelboats in reply to Sailbydate's reference to them, and because the AC is a big boat regatta.

Where you sail in the UK is of no more worldwide significance than where I sail, where SBD sails or where any other individual sails. I haven't referred to my own area because that's all it is - my own area and therefore of almost no importance to the worldwide sport. If we all just looked at our own area, we would just about all get a totally distorted view of world sailing.

Yes, Moths are doing OK in the UK. That's a great sailing country, but it's ONE country. 48 boats at the nationals and 84 class members is fine, but not amazing - it's about the same as the Europe, which as you know is a 1960s Moth. Given the thousands of boats that do UK nationals, a class that gets about as many numbers as a 60 year old version of itself is not actually evidence that foilers are, after two decades, "the coming thing" or as relevant as earlier AC boats were.

Check out the numbers in other countries. The World Sailing report says that the top 5 countries in terms of Moth population have fewer than 300 boats between them. Yes, they are bloody wonderful - no, they and other foilers are not as close to the normal sailor as most earlier AC classes were, which is what AD's article pointed out. There would have been many more people sailing small versions of Valkyrie II and Vigilant in 1893, or Weatherly or Sovereign, than currently sail small versions of AC boats. Put it this way, even today there's about 250 boats listed as members in the 6, 8 and 12 Metre classes in their 5 biggest countries alone.

The numbers show that DA's point is correct, and that the foiler numbers remain small even after years of enormous promotion. Surely that gives us reason to consider the trajectory of the AC and our sport.

Yes, foiling boards are becoming popular for fun use (which is great) but the racing windfoilers are not the same thing; they carry larger sails and are optimise for windward/leewards - and the racing numbers outside of France appear to be pretty low. Windfoilers also arguably are about as relevant to the modern AC as International Canoes were to J Class, or Lechners were to 12 Metres. Even at the Youth Worlds there were only half as many windfoilers as there were Lasers. Considering that boards used to bring in many of the countries that sailing needs to stay in the Games, that could be a major issue. And after having foiled boats I've decided that windfoiling is the way I'm going, so I'm not biased. Reality is reality.

Basically, we can look at reality or at hype. When the future of the sport is involved, surely only one option can be taken.
 
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Sailbydate

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Dogwatch, given that my second post dealt with boards, cats and dinghies (all of which I sail) I can't see why you came to that conclusion. I only referred to keelboats in reply to Sailbydate's reference to them, and because the AC is a big boat regatta.

Where you sail in the UK is of no more worldwide significance than where I sail, where SBD sails or where any other individual sails. I haven't referred to my own area because that's all it is - my own area and therefore of almost no importance to the worldwide sport. If we all just looked at our own area, we would just about all get a totally distorted view of world sailing.

Yes, Moths are doing OK in the UK. That's a great sailing country, but it's ONE country. 48 boats at the nationals and 84 class members is fine, but not amazing - it's about the same as the Europe, which as you know is a 1960s Moth. Given the thousands of boats that do UK nationals, a class that gets about as many numbers as a 60 year old version of itself is not actually evidence that foilers are, after two decades, "the coming thing" or as relevant as earlier AC boats were.

Check out the numbers in other countries. The World Sailing report says that the top 5 countries in terms of Moth population have fewer than 300 boats between them. Yes, they are bloody wonderful - no, they and other foilers are not as close to the normal sailor as most earlier AC classes were, which is what AD's article pointed out. There would have been many more people sailing small versions of Valkyrie II and Vigilant in 1893, or Weatherly or Sovereign, than currently sail small versions of AC boats. Put it this way, even today there's about 250 boats listed as members in the 6, 8 and 12 Metre classes in their 5 biggest countries alone.

The numbers show that DA's point is correct, and that the foiler numbers remain small even after years of enormous promotion. Surely that gives us reason to consider the trajectory of the AC and our sport.

Yes, foiling boards are becoming popular for fun use (which is great) but the racing windfoilers are not the same thing; they carry larger sails and are optimise for windward/leewards - and the racing numbers outside of France appear to be pretty low. Windfoilers also arguably are about as relevant to the modern AC as International Canoes were to J Class, or Lechners were to 12 Metres. Even at the Youth Worlds there were only half as many windfoilers as there were Lasers. Considering that boards used to bring in many of the countries that sailing needs to stay in the Games, that could be a major issue. And after having foiled boats I've decided that windfoiling is the way I'm going, so I'm not biased. Reality is reality.

Basically, we can look at reality or at hype. When the future of the sport is involved, surely only one option can be taken.
You certainly put up a compelling argument, @Curious2. So, just to clarify my thinking, where do you see the future of yacht racing?
 

Stingray~

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You certainly put up a compelling argument, @Curious2. So, just to clarify my thinking, where do you see the future of yacht racing?
Yes, good reading.

IMO the AC does not need to represent mainstream yacht racing, my preference is to see what at the technical and design concept end is possible.

It was intended to be a design competition and for the past several Cups, maybe especially so in this last Cup, it has been exactly that.

There are plenty of different racing events to suit other tastes.

edit: I realize who AD is but won't name them since it really doesn't matter in that larger discussion
 
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Gissie

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I see the foiler always having a cost, skill level problem. Moths, boards, kites etc are all reasonably priced. So young and a few older folk can both afford and use them.

Once you get up into the bigger foilers you run into the money, skill problem. To buy and run them you need to have plenty of money, so an older person who has older mates he likes to sail with. So a high tech foiler is affordable but beyond the ability. The younger sailers can sail them but not afford them.

So perhaps the bigger foilers will be confined to pro races where the owner/sponsor has no desire to ever have a ride on the boat. The races need to develop a big enough audience to fund them. Unfortunately many of the older sailor has little real interest as it doesn't relate to what they know or understand. Will their be a big enough group of young foilers coming through to generate the numbers. Maybe not. In which case they need to take it even further from what most would call sailing to produce a Red Bull show with thrills and spills. New rules so a non sailor can understand what is happening. Unfortunately, all of this will also slow any development due to the limited number of world series the limited audience will support.
 

Stingray~

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The canting foils that alternate as ballast while flying in the air then lifting the boat while submersed is a brilliant concept. It works, bold move and impressive gamble.
 
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Sailbydate

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The canting foils that alternate as ballast while flying in the air then lifting the boat while submersed is a brilliant concept. It works, bold move and impressive gamble.
Hmmmmm. Not so much the ballast effect (from the retracted foil arm) as the lift generated from the submerged foil, providing the righting leverage. The 'paradigm shift' was I think, ditching the lead and shedding all that legacy weight.

Anywho, I'm splitting hairs. You're certainly right about a wonderful bold move by the designers. ;-)
 

Curious2

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You certainly put up a compelling argument, @Curious2. So, just to clarify my thinking, where do you see the future of yacht racing?

Thanks.

I see the future of yacht racing as one of continued decline, until and unless reality rather than hype starts to dominate decision making.

At the very least, there should be proper worldwide tracking of participation rates in different classes and disciplines across the world, so that WS can work out what is actually happening in terms of the classes and disciplines that are growing.

Decisions should be fact-based; for example there are many studies on the factors that cause people to drop out of sport. Among the top ones are expense, lack of time and excessive emphasis on excellence and competition - but WS is promoting classes and a style of sailing that normally worsen, rather than reduce, those issues. For example, some boats make average sailors look less competent (ie by capsizing) than others - and a perceived lack of competence is a major cause of drop out in youth. If WS and other bodies are going to take a course then they should be able to use objective data rather than anecdotes or bullshit to base it on; we can all prove anything we want if we rely on anecdotes.*

A fact-based analysis would probably lead WS and NAs to move away from elitism in both "talent" and gear. The idea of channeling kids into squads and burning most of them out seems to be coming to an end in many places, luckily, but there should be proper analysis of how it works (or does not) and how that relates to the marketing of the sport. For example, Sport NZ states that only 10% of those identified as talented youth become elite. Despite this, many sailing organisations continue to promote the elite end far more than anything else; ie I looked up association websites for two major classes; on one the front page was basically entirely about the elite and on another the world champs selection process was a major part of the front page despite the fact that most kids won't get there. Proper facts-based analysis of the drivers of junior participation (and the reasons why parents encourage particular sports) indicate that such an approach is the wrong way to go (and the fact that guys like Tom Burton show that you can become elite at a later age shows that you don't need to be a whizz kid even if you want to be a gold medallist).

One weird thing is that although WS and NA decisions appear to be very largely based on silly assumptions gathered from a jumble of simplistic assumptions, they still seem to have a top-down approach where they lecture clubs and associations from on high. As someone who has run a growing class (now one of the world's fastest growing in terms of sheer numbers as well as growth rate) and run or helped to run strong and growing clubs, it's odd that those bodies have never been asked how we have become successful. Surely an NA should have its finger on the pulse enough to see what is growing and then the curiousity to ask them what they have learned.

In the cases above, we've learned that accessibility and nurturing is what counts. This is a complicated sport, at a time when people are pushed for time and often for cash. Things like encouraging cheap and simple craft, spending lots of time on formal and informal coaching, and bringing in things like a "one lap finish" for novices (ie if you just finish one lap, you get scored as a finisher rather than either get stuck out miles behind everyone else or getting DNFd) seem to really work well.

A lot of this approach (if not specifics) can be backed up by the work done in computer game design, which is a field that uses a lot of psychological insights to encourage participation. We tend to complain about kids playing computer games, but fail to look at the reasons they do, including things like levels in gameplay, a knowledge of the metagame, etc.

This is a very general answer because although I have some very strong ideas (backed by what I think is a lot of research and significant experience) about the way we should go, going into specifics more would shed more heat than light (particularly from people who have never sailed really quick gear, run a class or club, etc). However, I will say that IMHO research shows very strongly that if we used modern tech to make the sport more accessible (cheaper, easier to use, faster to rig, etc) rather than moving towards extreme performance, and put more emphasis on having fun in the accessible popular classes and away from elitism (in gear and in national squads etc), then the sport has a very bright future**. If, however, WS and the industry continue to pretend that extreme high performance is the future, it will be much smaller and fairly bleak.


* While I don't like anecdotes, one that seems close to the point is that at a regatta a while ago, I asked someone very senior in WS where they saw the sport going and they said all the kids wanted to foil. At the same regatta, within a few metres of where the previous remark was, I asked a national Youth champ what they were doing next and they said they didn't know, because WS had changed their pathway to a foiling class and it cost too much. The kid's parents were (last time I saw them) a typical middle class couple mad on sailing, which may mean a vast mortgage. Based on industry norms, the WS person would have earned about 1.45 mill in their day job, and they lived and sailed in an area of similar people, and one would thnk that the WS person's idea of "normal kids" is pretty biased. Where I sail, foiling isn't really on kids minds at all (although one of them is on a world champs podium in a class that can foil). With great respect, I don't think the WS person's belief about what kids want (and can realistically have) was correct outside the bubble of elite kids from rich parents.

** Obviously "accessible" means something different in the AC - but if we adjust for inflation we see that J Class and 12 Metre budgets were often around $10m USD, so they were far closer to the norm than today's AC campaigns.

PS - also, we shouldn't believe most people from the AC, WS or media when they say of a new high-performance type or event "this is the future" - because they have been wrong so many times in the past and yet they show no sign of admitting it, or working out why they are always wrong.
 
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shanghaisailor

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It is so bad that I wonder if Scot has actually even bothered reading it first.
I DID read it, and sent the Editor a response detailing where I thought young David got it wrong. The editor declined to post it on the front page.

I didn't think there would be much 'meat' to the article from the get go when the heading picture was from the 12m Worlds ( I think) but definitely NOT the America's Cup At least A2 was winning.
 
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shanghaisailor

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You seem rather fixated on keelboats. Where I sail in the UK, Moths and their offshoots have been popular for years and foiling boards are increasingly being seen. Racing of keelboats seems to be, unfortunately, in a slow but steady decline.
I have to agree dogwatch. The other thing that people seem to forget is that to go foiling you have to be good enough, have to be fit enough and have a big enough bank balance which is not everyone. Back in the day the likes of the International 14 was the mutts nuts for performance - still no slouch - but they were never cheap and you had to have your wits about you to sail one, then along comes the girlfriend, or mortgage or or or.

There are many more facets to the argument then just raw numbers.

Foiling boats ARE knockout though, I'm just too old (especially my knees) to try a Moth these days and $20k - wow.
 

Curious2

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I have to agree dogwatch. The other thing that people seem to forget is that to go foiling you have to be good enough, have to be fit enough and have a big enough bank balance which is not everyone. Back in the day the likes of the International 14 was the mutts nuts for performance - still no slouch - but they were never cheap and you had to have your wits about you to sail one, then along comes the girlfriend, or mortgage or or or.

There are many more facets to the argument then just raw numbers.

Foiling boats ARE knockout though, I'm just too old (especially my knees) to try a Moth these days and $20k - wow.

There are more facets to the argument than just raw numbers, of course, and I never indicated that there wasn't.

The promotion of any sport is incredibly complex and the history of popular classes revolves around things like US taxation, social psychology, dinghy storage, the American military-industrial complex and cooler (icebox) manufacturing, post-war reconstruction, French philosophy and the width of the Austin A40. However, when the numbers indicate that the course that WS, the AC and others appears to be way off, surely we should not ignore them?

To use the example you brought up, back in the day the 14, although the mutts nuts, was not the fastest or more radical thing afloat (that was a C Class, IC or Pen Duick) but it was arguably much more accessible than the extreme boats of today. Arguably what was even more important is that the sport wasn't promoting itself by showing off the dogs bollocks like the Int 14, the International Canoe or the leading edge big boats like Toria, Miss Helmsman or Int Canoes; it was doing extremely well by promoting Mirrors, Snapdragons and occasionally 12s , perhaps the BITD equivalent of RS200s, Beneteau Oceanii and Maxi 72s.

The equivalent to a Moth BITD would have been an International Canoe. Both are fantastic boats (which I have owned and loved) but when the sport was booming no one pointed to the Canoe (or C Class) and said "that's where the sport should be heading"; they pointed to the OK, Solo, Merlin, FD, and Enterprise - and that concentration on the realistic end of the sport kept it strong.

And say what you may about the numbers, but if they keep dropping off as they have been in many places over the past 30 years then the sport is in deep trouble. Should we just ignore them and keep our eyes closed?
 
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