Keith – on the Sailcloth

In this note below from Keith he is keen to point out that it represents a personal view and not one on the behalf of the Association…

Very interesting dialogue on the Scorpion Class link that you provided; I also find it interesting that North are getting in on the discussion.  I have to say I’m mildly sceptical of large corporate bodies who are offering “to help”; the have one interest only that is to sell as many sails as possible to as many classes as possible.

It would be only natural for them to target a class with no specific rule, there is less effort required in breaking into the class etc etc.  I noticed that North’s didn’t and don’t make a huge effort with FFs as a) we still use Dacron and b) it would take a rule change to use their technology.   I’m sure their efforts would change should our rules change!  North’s in particular invested a huge amount in 3DL moulded technology sails so it is only natural that they want to sell as many as possible into as many classes as possible. They have after all an huge production facility they need to keep busy.  It is also true they have moved on to 3Di sails for big boats all the more need to sell the old 3DL down to dinghys etc, broaden the market.

I also noted that in the Scorpion conversation there were the usual wildly inaccurate statements by the less knowledgeable or those who want the new technology; suggestions like Dacron only lasts 6 months.  Now we all know that’s rubbish.  The best info we have is that the sails have very similar curves of decay, with the panelled sails lasting longer and 3DL moulded sails lasting slightly longer again. However it is these lengths of time that really matter and I suspect and have seen that those who can will buy a suit per year, but most a suit every 2-3 years regardless of cloth type.

I think that as a class we are in quite a good position in that we have two possibly three sail makers in the class.  This will help market forces keep sail costs lower and whilst there are sail makers interested in sailing in the class that will also keep the competition between them going.  The more sail makers who can provide competitive sails the better.   However if we let one sail maker dominate with a proprietary technology such as 3DL (very good point … Ed.) and our owners begin to perceive that 3DL is better, and perception is everything, then we slowly loose sail makers and competition.  Then the one sail maker left can charge what they like, and the quality can be allowed to slip….do we want that?

Even if we do change in the future it would need to be handled in such a way as to allow our diverse group of sail makers to continue and that would be to keep sails made in panels (radial cut’s, directional panels et al),  but I think moulded would be a step too far and loose us the support of some pretty committed sail makers trying to earn a living.  I’m not just thinking of Steve & Alan but Dick, Saturn, Owen, Gale and Rimmington etc etc.

More to chew on!


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