The pace of change in sailing

flaming

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The suggestion that the ratings should stop ‘protecting’ the C/R’s (flaming #29), may be practical in areas with large numbers of boats i.e. the Solent area in particular, as there is bound to be a relatively strong percentage of boats/owners that see racing as their primary activity, however I’m not sure this works outside such areas, I accept that our harbour and our nearest neighbouring harbour are not typical we probably represent a fair balance of percentage of C/R’s to racing only boats.
Out of our combined fleet of yachts, which is admittedly small, of about 50 sailing boats (diversion here, sorry but I rarely use what I think is the American term ‘Sailboats’) , only one is specifically racing only, 10 -15 C/R’s race regularly, and a further 6 or 7 will enter one or two of the annual races and the Regatta .
I haven’t competed in the RTI race for many years, but certainly when I did I seem to think the major proportion of competitors were C/R’s, and it is the C/R’s in my view that actually keep racing alive.
I see your point... But if only C/Rs are sailed in your area then they don't need protecting as such... Any fleet made up of broadly similar boats is going to be fine. The issue in places like the Solent has been that until really very recently to win under IRC you needed a big heavy C/R type. Even if you wanted just a racing boat, it needed to be heavier and slower than it could be, in order to protect the C/R fleet. But all the while C/R numbers were declining and yards stopping production.....

Put simply.... in order for there to be C/Rs in the future then there needs to be a supply of them now... There isn't because they aren't being made. They aren't being made because the offering in terms of bang for buck is off when it comes to C/Rs for new boat buyers.

If you looked at the IRC fleet in this year's RTI, you'd see that the proportion of true C/Rs, certainly in the 30-40 foot region, is a lot lower than it was. And more worryingly the average age of the boats is rising pretty sharply... When I look at the fleet we were in, IRC 2B, there was 1 boat, a Sunfast 3200 that was less than 10 years old....
In the whole of group 2, 80 boats, I think I count only 6 or 7 that are less than 10 years old. And 3 of them are J99s. There is nothing, not one boat, in that fleet that you would call a traditional C/R that is less than 10 years old.

If we change nothing... Where are the boats that your club want to sail going to come from in the next decade or so?
 

Praxinoscope

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Could it be that the preponderance of older boats signifies that many who enjoy cruising Interspersed with racing are those that simply can not even look at newer boats, I can pick up a Sadler 32 or perhaps a Fulmar both of which give me the option of cruising or racing for around the £30k mark, an equivalent boat new is going to be nearer the £100k or more, I am betting that this latter price is way beyond the means of maybe 60 - 70% of the sailors in this country, I can manage on my pension to maintain my Sadler 25 (now 40 years old), which I still race, and on rare occasions win. My previous boat (Invicta 26j) was even older but still managed to win the odd race.
Going down the race specific boat route will only reduce the racing fleet, making it purely a ‘rich mans sport’ which despite its réputation among the general public, it isn’t completely at present, although like most things it can be at the finer end.
There is room for both, and the H/C system needs to allow for this, but it is the C/R’s which will provide the race crews and the winners of tomorrow.
 

flaming

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That's all fine... But in order for there to be £30k boats in years to come they have to be built now.... And they're not... Not C/Rs anyway...

The current reality is that the people who are actually buying new boats are not buying C/Rs of the Fulmar ilk and haven't been for some time.

What's currently selling are shorthanded specific offshore boats and lightweight inshore flyers.
And AWB cruising boats.

I just don't see a future in trying to persuade people to buy boats that don't excite them... That's just a recipe for declining fleet numbers.
 

RobF

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That's all fine... But in order for there to be £30k boats in years to come they have to be built now.... And they're not... Not C/Rs anyway...

The current reality is that the people who are actually buying new boats are not buying C/Rs of the Fulmar ilk and haven't been for some time.

What's currently selling are shorthanded specific offshore boats and lightweight inshore flyers.
And AWB cruising boats.

I just don't see a future in trying to persuade people to buy boats that don't excite them... That's just a recipe for declining fleet numbers.
I've been pondering your post here.... I guess part of the problem is 'targeted marketing' where companies such as Jeanneau create floating caravans for the cruisers and the SunFast range for the racers. Beneteau adopt the same tactic (although technically the same company). There are others which only target one market (such as HR for the well built cruisers and J boats for the racers). Others manage to produce sporty cruisers (Arcona and X Yachts, but are out of the price range of most mortals). I think the Dehler range is just about the only manufacturer creating boats which could be considered C/R.

Seems odd to me, because referring to the car analogy earlier in this thread, there are no shortage of car manufacturers producing sporty saloons and hot hatches.
 

Chiara’s slave

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Back in most of our day though, you could buy a Golf GTi, nice practical hatch with some get up and go, for sensible money. Now the state of the art are beasts like the AMG A45. Pushing 70k new, all kitted out, and it’s virtually a supercar. Isn’t that exactly what’s happened with boats?
 

Chris 249

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Flaming, isn't the interest in IRC racing in small to medium size "high performance" boats pretty much a Solent-specific issue?

There doesn't seem to be much interest at all in boats like that doing high-level mixed-fleet rating racing in many places - in fact there doesn't seem to be much current interest in buying fast 9m sportsboats in the world in general.

The overall lack of interest can't be due to IRC, because IRC is only one rule and in many countries much of the racing is under other systems like PHRF, yardsticks, ORC, OD, etc. If lots of people really want to sail fast new 9m boats then they would be doing it in the USA, NZ, and many places in Europe where they don't race IRC.

However, in those "non IRC" areas there's still very little interest in buying new boats of that type. In NZ, for example, there's almost no boat of that type in their biggest event, the Coastal Classic. In other parts of the world (like Australia) IRC is the "grand prix" system but there's much more of a dichotomy between IRC (which is the focus for offshore racing) and most inshore racing, which isn't under IRC. There's no real interest here in Cape 31 style boats for racing under any rating system; they're not really a Category 1 style of boat and that's where the Grand Prix interest is. Years ago a Mumm won our 2nd biggest offshore race (typically a howling downwind passage) but no one really copied them because no one really wants to do 450 miles in a 30' sportsboat even if they could win under IRC.

Look at the number of boats that have been designed for the bracket since the Mumm 30; Melges 32, Far East31, J/90, Maconaghy 31 (a "ripe target sector", they said), C&C 30, Soto 30, Lutra 30 ("set to conquer the challenges of world-class one-design and IRC racing" they said), Farr East28R ("a sizs range that's starting to take off" they said in 2015), Farr 280, L30, Apart from the moderate success of the Melges 32, they have basically gone nowhere. There just doesn't seem to be much attraction.

I should have been clearer when I wrote that J Boats etc "listened to the owners". I meant that they tracked where the interest from past, present and future owners was and responded to it. They researched and were responsive and flexible.

One may say that most of the builders of 9m sportsboats have done it the other way; they seem to be deciding that the sportsboat market is going to grow, ignoring the repeated failures in the bracket, and brought out yet another boat that falls over in the same (almost non existent) bracket.

Given the repeated failure of theh 9m sportsboats to take off, even when IRC rating is clearly NOT the issue because it's not the rating method of choice in those regions, surely it's perfectly reasonable of IRC to note that most sailors aren't actually all that interested in sailing such boats?

Down here, one of the regions where sportsboats arguably started, the type clearly has NOT grown as people claimed it would; in fact the mixed sportsboat class is shrinking. What is growing is the small one designs (J/70, Melges 20, VX One, SB20) because if you can't cruise it and can't race it offshore, why get a bigger boat?
 

Chris 249

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About the production cruiser/racer issue; how do you guys define a cruiser/racer? I'd have thought the J/112e, XP range, Sunfast 3600 (perhaps with some work on the roomy but bare interior), J/111, Dehler 38SQ, Italia 9.98, Grand Soliel 34, Dehler 34, etc was a fairly reasonable representation of 10-11m boats given the current state of the overall sailing scene?

As noted before, it seems to be getting very hard to make a "better" racer/cruiser without going all carbon for silly money, so it's not surprising that new boat sales have slowed. How can Dehler, for example, compete with an immaculate 2001 model on a value-for-money basis?

I'm still far more concerned about the lack of small boats out there racing, and the "establishment's" view that if you are not a gazillionaire you're a fourth-class citizen. In the past the "establishment" did things like promoting the Cadet, 20-24 foot JOG boats, Quarter Tonners, Sonatas, Folkboats....... Looking back it's interesting to note that the classes that formed the backbone of the boom times were actively created in order to popularise the sport by making it accessible, and that concept appears to be utterly forgotten by World Sailing and the industry.
 

flaming

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Flaming, isn't the interest in IRC racing in small to medium size "high performance" boats pretty much a Solent-specific issue?

There doesn't seem to be much interest at all in boats like that doing high-level mixed-fleet rating racing in many places - in fact there doesn't seem to be much current interest in buying fast 9m sportsboats in the world in general.

The overall lack of interest can't be due to IRC, because IRC is only one rule and in many countries much of the racing is under other systems like PHRF, yardsticks, ORC, OD, etc. If lots of people really want to sail fast new 9m boats then they would be doing it in the USA, NZ, and many places in Europe where they don't race IRC.
I'm not sure that's entirely correct. Fleets of Mumm (Farr) 30s kept going for a long time in the states, and are still a pretty popular "beer can" racer. Boats like the Grand Surprise in France (that are demonstrably rubbish on IRC) have massive fleets. Spain has huge J80 fleets The Kiwis have the Elliots and other mad sportsboats.

Is it really such a surprise that the moment we see a 9m sportsboat that can win on IRC (cape 31) the owners of 40 foot cruiser racers are falling over themselves to buy them? I mean, it's really my main point that almost nobody who was out racing most weeks was actually using their 40 foot cruiser racer to go cruising... So why wouldn't you want a smaller, faster boat if you could still win under IRC?

However, in those "non IRC" areas there's still very little interest in buying new boats of that type. In NZ, for example, there's almost no boat of that type in their biggest event, the Coastal Classic.
Really? The results list from the last race (2020) reads like a list of fast boats to me.... I'm barely seeing a C/R in there... Certainly a long list of stuff that will plane... The displacement Firsts etc stand out, not the other way around... 2019 is even more skewed towards fast stuff as far as I can see.

All Monos - Race 1 Results

To be absolutely clear, I'm not saying that we should only build sportsboats, but that the era of the C/R is probably over... Mostly because they aren't really being bought.... What is selling (at least in the UK) are offshore specific shorthanded boats - something like 20 Sunfast 3300s in Hamble now, and Cape 31s. They seem to get a new one of those out of the container every week at the moment... 20 expected for Cowes. No class has done that in years....
In the general IRC fleet currently entered for Cowes there are 2 J99s that are pretty new, and then the newest boat I can see is from 2015. That is not the sign of a healthy, flourishing, racing scene. Especially as the entry is Waaaaaaay down.

I should have been clearer when I wrote that J Boats etc "listened to the owners". I meant that they tracked where the interest from past, present and future owners was and responded to it. They researched and were responsive and flexible.
To be fair, I have massive respect for J as a business. And actually I really like their boats in general, and the 111 in particular. You are absolutely right that they are generally very good at spotting what their customers want. And to be fair, the J111 was a departure from the "IRC typeform" at the time it was launched. A lot of people looked at it and went "nope, too fast, won't win a thing under IRC". But they got some results and sold a fair few boats....


One may say that most of the builders of 9m sportsboats have done it the other way; they seem to be deciding that the sportsboat market is going to grow, ignoring the repeated failures in the bracket, and brought out yet another boat that falls over in the same (almost non existent) bracket.

Given the repeated failure of theh 9m sportsboats to take off, even when IRC rating is clearly NOT the issue because it's not the rating method of choice in those regions, surely it's perfectly reasonable of IRC to note that most sailors aren't actually all that interested in sailing such boats?
To be fair... that's not what I have been saying really. I'm more saying that the policy of IRC to protect C/Rs has not resulted in a huge choice of C/Rs available. The opposite is true. And I'm not saying that everything should be a sportsboat, but simply that in 2022 a 30 foot racing boat shouldn't have to weigh 4 tonnes to be competitive...
 

flaming

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About the production cruiser/racer issue; how do you guys define a cruiser/racer? I'd have thought the J/112e, XP range, Sunfast 3600 (perhaps with some work on the roomy but bare interior), J/111, Dehler 38SQ, Italia 9.98, Grand Soliel 34, Dehler 34, etc was a fairly reasonable representation of 10-11m boats given the current state of the overall sailing scene?
It's the bang for buck issue here. The 112e, is a £300k boat.... Ditto the Dehler 38, the XP even more... The GS is nearly £250k....

Meanwhile a cape is £130k.

So what do you pay the extra for? Sure, you get berths and offshore capability. But if you weren't cruising or going offshore.... Why would you spend double the money on a C/R that goes slower and doesn't have an OD class?

Worth noting that there were 4 112e on the Solent. 2 have sold and left. I don't think I've ever seen an SQ38, there's 1 XP44, no XP38s no Italias, 1 GS34 and no Dehler 34s.
I wouldn't put the J111 or the SF3600 in the same category as the others, far less interior. There are 3 3600s that I can think of, but they mostly do offshore only, and the J111s have a small class. But you can't actually buy a new one any more....

You can argue all you want that these are great boats. And I wouldn't disagree. But the simple fact is that they are not selling, at least not in the UK. The people who are buying new boats are (currently) buying Cape 31s or offshore shorthanded boats.

I'm still far more concerned about the lack of small boats out there racing, and the "establishment's" view that if you are not a gazillionaire you're a fourth-class citizen. In the past the "establishment" did things like promoting the Cadet, 20-24 foot JOG boats, Quarter Tonners, Sonatas, Folkboats....... Looking back it's interesting to note that the classes that formed the backbone of the boom times were actively created in order to popularise the sport by making it accessible, and that concept appears to be utterly forgotten by World Sailing and the industry.
I agree with this, and I see that they're having a little go at it here... Aimed at offshore but....
Registrations are open for Class 30 One Design
 

Mudisox

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I find it interesting that down in the SW we have no problem with numbers going racing. Dartmouth Regatta is full of boats that can and do cruise, and in the Classic Channel Regattacoming up we have 80+boats most pre 1970s.

Mind you the owners and crews are also Classic.

In an earlier post Flaming quoted the record breakers needing 15kts of breeze and flat water, ----------I think that we would all like that please, racing or cruising!
 

flaming

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I find it interesting that down in the SW we have no problem with numbers going racing. Dartmouth Regatta is full of boats that can and do cruise,
Hmmm. As you know we compete fairly regularly at Dartmouth....

Looking at our class form last year, IRC2, there were 16 boats. Of which, I count 2 X362s, A beneteau 34.7, an Elan 40, Dehler 38 and a J109 that I'd call "traditional" cruiser racers. The other boats are all essentially "race boats with a lid and a token interior". So what 6 out of 16?

The Dehler was a fairly new boat, 2016 or so? But the next newest of those is probably the 34.7, which went out of production in 2009. The rest are over 20 years old now.

In IRC 1 there was one First 40. Which was last built in 2016 and was not competitive in that class. Everything else was a race boat. You could argue that you could cruise a J111 or a Sunfast 3600, but in reality nobody really is....

In IRC 3 there was one boat newer than about 2005, an Archambault and they went bust.....

So whilst there are some boats that race and cruise being raced at Dartmouth, they are very much the minority and they're not new... Which is fine for now, but what happens in 10 years time?
 
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