Is LaserPerformance planning a new dinghy???

maxstaylock

Anarchist
703
407
I was out club racing in light winds recently, having a go in a Phantom, with Dzeros, Lasers and Solos out too.  Going downwind, they were all able to crouch with one buttock on the side deck to get the right amount of windward heal, whereas I was having to full kneel on the double bottom cockpit floor, inboard of the sidedeck, being a much wider boat.  My knees were in bits the following week.  The Dzero looked particularly comfy in this mode, with the nicely rounded inboard sidedeck edge, the Solo has a thwart which also helps, but the centreboard case capping messes it up a bit.  The Laser has a narrow cockpit which helps too, you can be proper sitting while only slightly to windward.  The Hadron feels strange in this mode, with the wide centreline tank, like being in bed with a really fat chick, sure you could get used to it.  The Finn wins the downwind ergonomics hands down. The Blaze and 300 are the opposite, you are kneeling all the way, fine in your 20's, tricky after this.  Haven't sailed an Aero yet or OK yet.  For me, it seems that the depth of the cockpit is not as important as the positioning of the side deck, for boats that sail deep downwind.

 

Xeon

Super Anarchist
1,001
581
England
Re shallow cockpits it’s more about the width of it being the most important dimension not the depth.

The Supernova/ Aero and the D-zero are virtually the same size , all are open transom and all have about the same depth of cockpit ( the Dzero might be just be 10mm deeper ) . But the supernovasAeros cockpit are about 50% wider .

This makes a huge difference to the amount of time you spend on your knees , especially if you sail on a smallish pond. 
When I owned a Supernova, I had bad knees for two days after sailing, Which is why a changed to a deep cockpit British moth . 
Because of this , I tested the D-zero a couple of times to make sure it’s knee friendly and after owning one I can totally confirm it is and it works for me . 

 

Metoxi

Member
113
98
England
Maybe its not so much the depth of the cockpit as whether there's something to sit on that's not covered in cleats. 
A better way of describing it, the sheltered puddle I sail on means a shallow cockpit can be a pain. I had an rs300 and spent most of the time kneeling in it, in the laser I have now I can find a reasonably comfortable seated position.

 

Metoxi

Member
113
98
England
Re shallow cockpits it’s more about the width of it being the most important dimension not the depth.

The Supernova/ Aero and the D-zero are virtually the same size , all are open transom and all have about the same depth of cockpit ( the Dzero might be just be 10mm deeper ) . But the supernovasAeros cockpit are about 50% wider .

This makes a huge difference to the amount of time you spend on your knees , especially if you sail on a smallish pond. 
When I owned a Supernova, I had bad knees for two days after sailing, Which is why a changed to a deep cockpit British moth . 
Because of this , I tested the D-zero a couple of times to make sure it’s knee friendly and after owning one I can totally confirm it is and it works for me . 
The D-Zero does appeal and hoping to give one a try this year. 

 

Xeon

Super Anarchist
1,001
581
England
The D-Zero does appeal and hoping to give one a try this year. 
I love mine but I am not going to be one of those people that say their boat is perfect because there is no such thing.

But I think if you like sailing a Laser you would love the D-zero , it’s like a Laser with all the bad bits removed ..

TBH I like the look of the Hadron H2 too. But it’s fills a slightly different gap in the market. 

 
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Steve Clark

Super Anarchist
The English sail where others don't, damp sponges, washing up bowls, open sewers and places where the run horses when the tide is out.  The best sailboats for these venues are very likely not so good in other venues. They have a great club culture and the PY scheme supports a great diversity of boats.  This makes the UK unique. What works there isn't necessarily relevant to other markets. Relatively stable, low speed boats are more pleasant in constricted waterways with inconsistent/ puffy winds and as a result probably deliver a more satisfactory sporting experience in those kind of places.

Live ballast, shifting the crew weight, requires varying degrees of athleticism.  And the further you have to shift it, the more athletic it is, and if the boat is highly dependent or responsive to moving the weight around, it is more athletic still.  Much of the performance advances in sailboat design are not design advances at all, but simply relying more on the sailor's willingness to move around.  In this way "performance" refers to the sailor, not to the boat.

In the States, we are really pretty fussy about where we sail, and as a result the sport is less diversified and less popular.  So while the Brits can be very snotty and dismissive of other's sailing, it is probably us who are the snobs and only sail in "the best" places. 

With all he strange shit floating around the UK, I am surprised at the resistance to Sunfish.  There is a fairly long list of stuff that costs more and sails less well.  I think it is due to a prejudice against lateen sails, although they are no weirder than sliding gunters, sprit sails, and lots of other traditional sail plans.   They are odd, but they also have distinct advantages. That is if you can see beyond the poor piece of crap that has been sitting in the Caribbean sun  for 10 years.  Tony Marchaj spends about half of Sail Performance trying to explain why Crab Claw sails don't suck as much as you would think.   I think it is simpler.  The lateen sail is big with a low center of effort, which means they can push hard without tipping the boat over, which means the accelerate quickly and scoot along when hit by a puff.  If you haven't been living under a rock, the value of a low center of effort is a huge deal at the top end of the sport.  The rig is also inexpensive.  On a performance per dollar basis, the lateen wins every time.  If you are trying to deliver value, the advantages are impossible to ignore.

All that being said, there are things about the actual Sunfish which we fixed when developing the Rocket. Those are weight, stiffness, daggerboard and rudder. In the opinion of this guy ( who has some claim to knowing his ass from his elbow) this turns a boat that is "better than you expect" into something pretty remarkable.  The people who have sailed them seem to think they are pretty sweet, and it is statistically unlikely that all of them are fucking idiots.

I don't know what the Pornstar is about. Almost everyone thinks they can do better than Bruce Kirby, but very few have.  I owned the same portfolio of products for 10 years and it is not an avenue I would have pursued.  Of course, we hadn't killed one of our core products ( Sunfish),  completely alienated the customers for the other ( Laser), and abandoned the US market.  Then again I am not a business genius.

SHC

 

Xeon

Super Anarchist
1,001
581
England
I think your right there was a time in the late 50s early sixties when the sunfish could/should have been a hit in the uk . But the low aspect sail plan and the fact that it goes badly to windward counted against it as we mostly sail in low wind conditions on confined water. 
You only have to see what happened when Ian Procter saw them in the states and decided to design his version the Mini sail. It sold in thousands and thousands until the Laser killed it .

The Lateen rig has many strengths ( cost and ease of use and for multi use boats etc) but in out and out performance it’s always going lose out to a Bermuda rig .
As our dinghy sailing is and always has been based around racing , the sunfish was never going to get any traction .

 
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Err sorry as a European sailor I totally disagree with this statement. 
Sunfish are [email protected]@t and it they were the only available thing to sail for me  , I just wouldn’t sail .
When I first moved to the US and spent a summer on the Cape, the only thing available for me to sail was the Sunfish............so I sailed Sunfish.

But I will always sail. I would rather sail anything than sit on a beach. 

When later in life I was forced to spend 2 summers in the Hamptons. I hunted around and found that they sailed Cat Boats on Georgica pond. So I sailed Cat boats (which make Sunfish look like Contenders). 

I have fond memories of both Sunfish and Cat boats and the people that sailed them.  They were short and fun chapters. 

If you look at the Georgica Pond results you wont see my name but you will see two summers when Calvin Klein started winning races. His wife overheard from someone that i was looking for a boat and I got a very nice note asking me to borrow their boat and directions to their boathouse. She was generous to a stranger and a kindred sailing spirit.  I never met Calvin and I dont know if he sails.

However my preference is for boats where you can control the sail shape and have different ways of responding to puffs. So I have not chosen a Sunfish where other choices are available.  I may be sailing Sunfish again because that is the local single handed poison where I live now,  Im an addict so Ill sail whatever there is to sail.

 
The English sail where others don't, damp sponges, washing up bowls, open sewers and places where the run horses when the tide is out.  The best sailboats for these venues are very likely not so good in other venues. They have a great club culture and the PY scheme supports a great diversity of boats.  This makes the UK unique. What works there isn't necessarily relevant to other markets. Relatively stable, low speed boats are more pleasant in constricted waterways with inconsistent/ puffy winds and as a result probably deliver a more satisfactory sporting experience in those kind of places.

Live ballast, shifting the crew weight, requires varying degrees of athleticism.  And the further you have to shift it, the more athletic it is, and if the boat is highly dependent or responsive to moving the weight around, it is more athletic still.  Much of the performance advances in sailboat design are not design advances at all, but simply relying more on the sailor's willingness to move around.  In this way "performance" refers to the sailor, not to the boat.

In the States, we are really pretty fussy about where we sail, and as a result the sport is less diversified and less popular.  So while the Brits can be very snotty and dismissive of other's sailing, it is probably us who are the snobs and only sail in "the best" places. 

With all he strange shit floating around the UK, I am surprised at the resistance to Sunfish.  There is a fairly long list of stuff that costs more and sails less well.  I think it is due to a prejudice against lateen sails, although they are no weirder than sliding gunters, sprit sails, and lots of other traditional sail plans.   They are odd, but they also have distinct advantages. That is if you can see beyond the poor piece of crap that has been sitting in the Caribbean sun  for 10 years.  Tony Marchaj spends about half of Sail Performance trying to explain why Crab Claw sails don't suck as much as you would think.   I think it is simpler.  The lateen sail is big with a low center of effort, which means they can push hard without tipping the boat over, which means the accelerate quickly and scoot along when hit by a puff.  If you haven't been living under a rock, the value of a low center of effort is a huge deal at the top end of the sport.  The rig is also inexpensive.  On a performance per dollar basis, the lateen wins every time.  If you are trying to deliver value, the advantages are impossible to ignore.

All that being said, there are things about the actual Sunfish which we fixed when developing the Rocket. Those are weight, stiffness, daggerboard and rudder. In the opinion of this guy ( who has some claim to knowing his ass from his elbow) this turns a boat that is "better than you expect" into something pretty remarkable.  The people who have sailed them seem to think they are pretty sweet, and it is statistically unlikely that all of them are fucking idiots.

I don't know what the Pornstar is about. Almost everyone thinks they can do better than Bruce Kirby, but very few have.  I owned the same portfolio of products for 10 years and it is not an avenue I would have pursued.  Of course, we hadn't killed one of our core products ( Sunfish),  completely alienated the customers for the other ( Laser), and abandoned the US market.  Then again I am not a business genius.

SHC
I am not sure that I agree with everything in the analysis of Xeon and Steve's comparison of UK and US sailing.

Yes...... in the UK, a sailing club moves in when the last of the gravel has been extracted......and there are dozens of small clubs on dozens of rivers and ponds. However the anchor to British sailing is coastal sailing and everywhere in the UK is close to the sea. Generally speaking there is much more wind in the UK than Eastern seaboard US sailing.

So lighter breeze is not the reason English (and Scottish ) sailors sail more performance orientated dinghies. 

Furthermore, I think a great number of British designs would work great here in the US but they are hampered by a few factors:

1) The US has less of an adult  dinghy culture. It absolutely exists but it is hard to find.  The prevalent model here is expensive yacht clubs with hoists and one design keel boat classes.  The hundreds of ramp clubs with $100-$300 per annum memberships that exist in the UK are uncommon over here.  It is hard for US dinghy sailors to get access. So if you are going to succeed with a new dinghy in the US, you have to be really good in execution and sell club by club.

2) Modern dinghy classes have struggled to get acceptance. Many US sailors cling on to classes like the Thistle, the Comet etc.  When my UK friends ask me why the Melges 15 is taking off, I point to the lack of competition.

3) The UK builders have some great designs and production and the right prices. The RS 200 could have worked very well here, or the RS 2000 or possibly the 400 and even the Solo  BUT  UK builders that I talk to singularly fail to understand the level of marketing , service and quality control required to succeed in the US market.  It is like comparing the service in an English restaurant to the service you get in even the most humble US diner. "Im Becky and I will be your waitress today"....and they mean it !   Steve Clark enjoys playing the eccentric boat designer but do not be fooled by  "I am not a business genius".....when they owned Vanguard it was a well run business in a difficult industry and they serviced the hell out of their dealers  and customers (and the apple has not rolled very far from the tree). The UK builders like the US market but as one senior executive of one of the big three UK builders (Laser P, RS and Ovington) put it to me "It would be a great market if it wasnt for the bloody americans"  . What they mean by that is that , deep down, they think Americans are fussy wimps. When a Brit takes delivery of a new boat, he expects to get out the power tools and fiddle with it. The average Brit owner loves tinkering with boats. I was astonished at how much my brother paid for his Solo and how much work he had to do on it before we went sailing. But my brother loved it...it was all part of the joy of getting a new boat. The American owner of a new boat expects a much higher level of completeness and service. When you bought a boat from a Vanguard dealer, you cut off the shrink wrap, the parts were all there (or god help somebody in QC back in RI) and you went sailing.  If it broke, you called up and a spare part would be waiting.

When Laser performance bought Vanguard (based on the absurd premise that that is all they had to do in order to launch the SB3) , it did not change over night but gradually ownership affected service.

Melges launched the M15 into a complete void, but it was not a design void. It was a product, service, delivery and marketing void. IMHO, there are probably some better designed double handers around but Melges hit the sweet spot with the complete package. 

I love Portugal but the Laser Pornstar will be DOA in the US

 

skslr

Member
217
42
Germany
Re "When a Brit takes delivery of a new boat, he expects to get out the power tools and fiddle with it.":

The German RS dealer once told me an English product and a German automotive engineer as customer would be the worst combination he could think off :D

Re "crab sails": Buying a dinghy is never a sensible decision, it is just wasting money on something you personally like. If you don't like the look of the sunfish rigg, it does not really matter if it is "more sensible"/faster/cheaper than any other rigg...

 

JimC

Not actually an anarchist.
8,171
1,064
South East England
 When a Brit takes delivery of a new boat, he expects to get out the power tools and fiddle with it. The average Brit owner loves tinkering with boats. I was astonished at how much my brother paid for his Solo and how much work he had to do on it before we went sailing.
That can be exaggerated. A new Solo, these days, is a boutique craft bought by a committed racer, and yes, they frequently like to customise little things about the boat. But the its much less true of the mass market SMODs. The number of folk tinkering with boats in a dinghy park these days is a fraction of what it was 40 years ago. But I don't doubt your basic premise.

 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,500
1,934
Re "When a Brit takes delivery of a new boat, he expects to get out the power tools and fiddle with it.":

The German RS dealer once told me an English product and a German automotive engineer as customer would be the worst combination he could think off :D

Re "crab sails": Buying a dinghy is never a sensible decision, it is just wasting money on something you personally like. If you don't like the look of the sunfish rigg, it does not really matter if it is "more sensible"/faster/cheaper than any other rigg...
What was it they used to say about British cars?

Why do the British drink warm beer?                                                          Because Lucas makes the refrigeration.

Nevertheless if you ask my husband (a complete car nut) which are the top 5 cars he would own if money were no object, the top two are British , the third is Italian, the fourth is German (and he owns it) and the fifth is French.

If you ask me to identify the best looking racing dinghy in the world, it would be the Merlin Rocket.

They may be tinkerers but when they get it right, they really get it right.

As to the Sunfish. It is a POS that is perfect for dragging up on the beach and proof that people will race anything including Mirror Dinghies.

It has always amused me how fate will hand us a dinghy where the design mandate had nothing to do with racing.....and we race it and buy thousands. Then when a designer sits down to build a purpose built race boat....we switch off.  Its a fickle business !

As to the Pornstar?  They will likely bring a few over in containers. Some will look at videos on line. Some single men and a few married men will try her out on their own. But they are not going to introduce her to their friends or bring her home to meet the family.

 

Wess

Super Anarchist
What was it they used to say about British cars?

Why do the British drink warm beer?                                                          Because Lucas makes the refrigeration.
I wonder how many people will get that.  I think to really appreciate it, one needs to have restored multiple old MGs.

Lucas Electronic... The Prince of Darkness.

Good times...

 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,500
1,934
I wonder how many people will get that.  I think to really appreciate it, one needs to have restored multiple old MGs.

Lucas Electronic... The Prince of Darkness.

Good times...
and yet......the car my husband most bitterly regrets selling was his E type.  A vehicle with an electrical system that brought tears to even the most devoted car enthusiast ......but when it was running and he walked into the kitchen and with a twinkle in his eye asked me "Honey, can I give you a ride someplace?" ....you could not say no.  It was a beautiful automobile.

His father had an MG. It was a sickness.

I have a Lexus. It only goes into the shop for its scheduled service and it starts on request on cold mornings. My husband hates that car.

 
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