My name is Jay Glaser and I am a member of the F18 TechCom so I must be a muppet. Thanks for that Macca.
This post is my opinion not that of the class.
I sail an blue Infusion with my wife Pease. (see us on the cover of Helge Sach's new cat book) Before that we sailed a Capricorn. Before that a Tcat.
I also have a really cool Guck A4 which I don't sail nearly enough.
I have been built a few (1000) catamaran sails in the past 40yrs (in 1973 sails from the loft where I was working won the Toronto Tornado Worlds). I guess this means I am really old.
I currently own an extremely small loft in SoCal and am not connected to any of the big boat builders.
I have spent some time out sailing around as well as crawling around a loft floor.
Here is my opinion.
The cloth list came from developments in the Tornado class for the 2004 Athens Games. Some of the teams came up with a cloth that was within the rule but was perceived to be expensive and fragile (Cuben Fiber). Other teams with a lot of resources had special cloth manufactured exclusively for their use (2Xply Pen).
Both of these situations were thought to be bad for the continuing health of the class so along with the F18 class the cloth list was born by asking the main sailmakers in the classes what they were mostly using.
The list has worked pretty much as hoped with cloths added as things changed. I think that the class members don't feel that anyone can get an advantage from using a special "unobtainium" cloth.
Over a year ago the was some discussion about the list and the need to update it. Some of the cloths on the list are no longer in production and there were other cloths that both cloth and sail manufacturers thought should be added.
There was also input from class measurers who that the list was too large.
Last year I started asking the main cloth manufacturers about the current and future availability of cloths on the list.
Armed with that information a decision to par down the cloth list was made.
There are plenty of arguments out there about what does and doesn't work but I made my own decision (3mil PE only for M&J 3/4 nylon for spi) based on what I thought the teams pushing off the beach trying to get into the top half of silver fleet might want not the guys going for a WC podium spot. Talking to those guys I think they enjoy the steady development in the class. Great to have self tacking jibs, spinnaker launchers, better hull designs, modern fat head mains etc but I think you would see a decline in numbers if they felt they needed to buy a new set of sails every year because they thought theirs were blown out or not out of the cool new thing. They can still get class legal sails from any loft designed for their weight and sailing conditions. The lofts can get cloth from at least 4 different manufacturers. The market is still free but by operating in a more narrow confine hopefully the perception is the sailor makes the difference and not so much the sails or the boat. We also avoid the pitfalls of the Builders classes where sailors buy lots of "identical" product looking for a small advantage.
And it is all about perception because going back to the beginning the Cuben sails were not fragile or more expensive but that idea was promoted by the teams that had it to achieve a small psych advantage. The "unobtainium" factor.
The tech com is working on a defined path for getting new cloth on the list but it is not as easy as it sounds. As the class grows there are increasing commercial pressures we need to take into account as well as responsibility to the current owners who have invested in the class.
I would like to thank Olivier Bovyn and Don Findlay for their continued hard work on behalf of the class. Without them (and many unnamed others) we would not have the chance to sail in great places with such large numbers of our friends. We need to remember those who built the sandbox we all have so much fun playing in.
Sorry about the long post.
I was unaware that you are on the TC, as you can see from the official class page here TC members
Its pretty hard to know whats actually going on with the TC.
I do know that we have representatives from AHPC, Ullman, NACRA/Performance sails and Hobie.
I know very well how the cloth list for the Tornado came about and it did serve its purpose for a while but as we are seeing in the F18 class we need to move with the times and progress as the cloth manufacturers progress with their products.
They simply do not want to make pentex fiber anymore as its expensive and there are better options out there for the money.
Now, I dont regard you as a muppet
in any way, but I am struggling to understand why the proposed list has 3 out of the 4 cloths either completely unavailable or as a special order item. It beggars belief that this is in the best interests of the class.
I spoke to the head office of DP in germany and they confirmed to me again today (second day in a row I have spoken to them) that the PE05 3.0mil is a special order with 1000m minimum run. This is not something the class needs to have as a cloth.
Same goes for the Challenge MPX06 stuff, its just not used by any other class so they dont make the stuff anymore.
As for the Neil Pryde cloth... what the hell is it doing on there????
Every other class has moved on to newer/cheaper/better cloth and the F18 class is trying to force the old/expensive stuff on its members.
The minutes from the December meeting clearly show a request to the TC to come up with a proposal for the procedure to ADD new cloths to the list, it is not in those minutes anywhere any request to delete most of the cloths on the list and put in place some of the rarest and more expensive cloths in the market!
I have no problem at all with a new cloth list, but only if the proposal is properly circulated to the wider community and solid research is provided as to the reasons why cloths that are currently in use by some sail makers are requested to be removed. For example: if all the Sail Innovation 1.5mil sails were worn out after a season then I would think thats a fair call, but the reality is that these sails are lasting as long as any other sails you can buy. I have used my set all last year and will do the same this year (I am getting a new kite because the nylon ones are **** and wear out way too fast)
I have a massive issue with the way that this proposal has come about, it was a sneaky move by James and Don to try and get their rule change through the council only weeks after it had been flatly rejected at the council meeting.
Its worth noting that they had attempted to bundle this new cloth list and a new rule on paint into the 2013 rules approval vote, a bit like you guys in the US do with a bill in congress... you know, its a vote on some boring thing and someone sneaks a little bit on the end authorising wide spread phone tapping by the FBI...
It was luckily pulled up by those on the council who are ever wary of these tricks and the matter was settled in the meeting. So to try and get it through again under the guise of housekeeping is just plain naughty.