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  #1  
Old 03-19-2012, 06:46 PM
Petros Petros is offline
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New low-cost "hardware store" racing class; input on proposed rules

A small group of us in the Puget Sound area are exploring the idea of creating a new class of low cost sailboats. We are in the process of developing rules, format, etc. to promote and encourage entrants for a competition for next season (Spring/summer 2013). The format of the races would be similar as lazier or PD type events.

The object is to create a class of good performing day sailors that allows maximum creativity on the part of designers and builders, and stay within a limited budget to promote entry level sailing and encourage more people to get involved. A condition of entering the race is the winner of each season must make their designs available as plans for a reasonable fee so anyone can build the wining design for next season. This will encourage new designs and eventually build up a catalog of low cost good performing sailboat plans.

We are going to start out locally, and than perhaps encourage other regions to start their own chapters so we eventually can have regional and perhaps national championships.

We want to keep the rules simple, and promote maximum creativity. The proposed rules (so far) are as follows:

Primary structural material for the hull must be wood or wood/pulp based. All the materials purchased for use in the construction of the complete boat, sails and rigging is limited to $300. All materials must be purchased new from any mail order or national hardware store chain (such as Home Depot, Lowes, or Ace hardware stores). All entrants must submit copies of receipts and a list of materials used when requested by rules committee.

Max length 16', max beam 8', max mast length (step to peak) 20' including all appendages (except external detachable rudder). Mono hulls only, as measured with a string around the max beam point of the hull, no "hollows" between the string and hull larger than 2". No spinnaker, or trapeze allowed, but foot straps for hiking out are okay. (the size limit is to keep it inexpensive to transport on car top or trailer, storage requirement low, keep the deign safe and practical and still suitable as a day sailor).

Races will be with two man crew or singled handed. To make sure the boats stay practical, an optional rule is all boats must have accommodations for large cooler sized box weighing 100 kg, some races will require the "cargo box" with cargo be in place.

At the end of each season winner must allow design plans to be
drawn from their boat, and published for next season and made available to anyone for a reasonable fee (TBD). The proceeds from the sale of the plans are to be split between race organization and the boat designer. The wining boat must be retired after 5 years of first championship.

Any construction method, design, sail plan or type, and materials can be used within these limitations.



This would create a supply of good performing low cost practical boat designs that anyone can build. And allow people to use their creativity and construction skills to build low cost high performance sail boats. Building and racing workshops can be held by the local chapters or wooden boat centers or schools. These rules allow builders and racing crews can team up to build good performing boats, or even for entrants to hire professional designers and builders to get a competitive design, that will
eventually become available to everyone.

Also, I want to limit the purchase of materials to national suppliers so the cost limit rule can be fairly applied nationally when the time comes. So if all purchases are done from a national hardware store chain, everyone around the country can compete fairly. It also might be possible to get one of the national hardware chains like Home Depot or Lowes to sponsor the races. Than the martial purchases would be limited to the one sponsoring store chain. This would bring a lot of customers to their stores to buy materials,
tools and other building supplies.

Comments, ideas or suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2012, 07:27 PM
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hoytedow hoytedow is offline
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I like it.
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2012, 07:40 PM
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Doug Lord Doug Lord is offline
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The 300 Limited

Petros, I like the basic concept but just having gone thru a pairing down of costs for two different boats to make them more affordable(w/o success) I'm not sure of the practicality of a $300 limit. I'll think more about it, though-and good luck.
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:01 PM
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I am not sure that a $300 limit on boats is really desirable. By doing this you are forcing people into sailing terribly performing boats that really won't be able to last very long. For instance the cost of epoxy to make the boat waterproof is likely to eat up a major part of the budget, you can't use marine ply and make budget, so out it goes... Basically you are asking people to invest a lot of time to build a boat that won't last more than a year or so. Personally I wouldn't do it, no matter how cheap they are, since I wouldn't spend the time to make a piece of junk.

Instead I would set the upper limit on cost at say $3,000, but make the plans available for free/cheap. This would allow people who want to stay in the class to build durable boats, but still prevent the use of expensive high tech materials. This way a boat can be build that will last for years, but still limit the upper end of the budget race.

Secondly I would not include a provision that boats have to be retired after five years of racing. I can't see that this does anything advetagious, but it does force people to rebuild for no reason. It also prevents people from selling the boats to others, or passing them down to kids, which is another way to build a class faster.

Instead of requiring a national supplier, I would require a parts list, and receipts to race. What happens if someone lives in a town without your chosen retailer? They can't join the class, or have to travel long distances to buy plywood? Not going to happen for a cheap inexpensive boat.

I would also be clear that the cost limitation applies to the materials actually used in the boat, not the amount spent on pieces. I might also exclude the cost of paint, and other non-beneficial items from the cost list.
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2012, 09:38 PM
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Excellent ideas, Greg!
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2012, 01:12 AM
sharpii2 sharpii2 is offline
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This is a wonderful sounding idea.

I think, in the long haul, you can end up with a lot of 'but ifs...'

One of the biggest problems I noticed, as I watched the pdracer fleet grow, was the vast diversity in craftsmanship.

I think we can all agree that a lighter boat is a faster boat. This is even more true as the size of the boats increases, as the proportion of all up weight is made up more and more by the weight of the boat itself.

A skilled craftsman can make a lighter boat and have it strong enough than a less skilled craftsman.

If you have a pdr that is 30% heavier than another and it weighs, say 100 lbs, and the crew of each weigh, say 180 lbs, the heavier boat is only about 12% heavier in all up weight than the lighter boat. Not that much of an disadvantage. As the proportion of boat weight to crew increases, so to does the disadvantage of the heaver boat.

Since the hull design itself seems open, one person could make a slippery curvy hull out of strip planking or veneers, where the less skilled craftsman will have to content him/herself with a boxier design, with both spending about the same in materials.

As for cost of materials goes, which costs/prices do you mean? The price of, say, plywood now, or what it will cost two years from now? What if some substitute material becomes cheaper? Will the boats made of the now more expensive, but formerly cheaper materials be grandfathered in?

Now that I'm done bitching, I'll make a few suggestions.

1.) Come up with some kind of 'sum limit', where, for instance, Beam is traded for Length. Or better yet, have a 'footprint limit' with a limit on Beam x Length. This will make longer, skinnier boats even more tippy, as they will have to be even narrower to fit within the footprint limit. 60 to 90 would be good numbers to keep the costs down. (The distance any part of a crew members body projects over the side should be added to the 'Beam' measurement).

2.) have an 'air draft limit', which measures from the top of the mast to the bottom of the fully extended keel or board. A higher aspect rig will then call for a lower aspect keel or board. (Both of which are relatively easy to change).

3.) Have a general hull type specified, like, say a 'V' bottomed sharpie, or some other basic, relatively easy to build hull. This way, the designers of the early fleet will have some kind of guidance. Leaving it wide open runs the risk of all the losers taking the marbles and going home, if they are severely out classed.

4.) Have some kind of 'Sail Area to Displacement limit', so heavier crew and/or boats have some kind of fighting chance. I would tip the S/D advantage slighter toward the heavier boats, so in lighter wind conditions they might be slightly faster. The lighter boats would then do better in more average winds, and both would be more or less evenly matched in heavier winds.

5.) $300 seems too cheap and $3,000 seems ridiculously high for what amounts to an experimental boat in an infant class. Why not split the difference and set the limit at, say $1,350, which I think is beyond reasonable. Sails and sail making material should be first on the cost cutting block. Mike Storer (an experienced dinghy racer) has commented on this many times and I agree with him. Specifying what material they can be made of, and to what level of sophistication they can be crafted. For the 'Oz Duck' spinoff of the pdr fleet, you're only allowed to have curved cuts along the spars, no 'darts' and no 'gores', and the sails must be made of 'poly tarps'. It's amazing how effective sails made within even those limitations are.

6.) I love your 'Cargo Box' rule.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2012, 01:26 AM
luff tension luff tension is offline
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From an old rule I read once, I think it was Formula 28; after establishing a maximum spend value, be it $300 or $3000, you could then put into the rules the race committee/class organization reserve the right to purchase the winning boat of a major regatta for this amount. Failure to sell to them means forfeiture of the title.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:36 AM
michael pierzga michael pierzga is offline
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Nothing wrong with a controlled cost racing class. 300 dollars is too low.

Shave cost by having a class mast, boom and sails...pick a popular one design....all boats use the same rig . the only variable in the class will be the builders skill and inovations to hull shape and foils.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:29 AM
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Too much restriction. I say any sailboat under $300 no matter style and sails must be made from blue plastic or similar fabric tarpaulin.
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2012, 12:48 PM
sawmaster sawmaster is offline
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this discussion seems to be slightly related to a thread I started a few months back proposing a contest designed to promote high performance,low cost designs for the home builder.Some of you may remember that I proposed the winning design to be judged by a speed per dollar expended criteria.Some of the same objections raised now,namely the reluctance to spend time and energy on a so called "disposable" boat was raised at that time also,and with that argument shot down somewhat by the experience of several respondents who own 10 year or older cheap plywood boats.By the way, has any one heard from lampy lately? I am pleased to see the concept of developing low cost,high performance monohulls being revived in this,albeit somewhat different form--wished I lived near puget sound,to help get this Idea launched.
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2012, 01:11 PM
Jetboy Jetboy is offline
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I also think the material costs are too low, and the design too limited. I think a $3k budget max would be better.

And I would not restrict to only hardware store components. The reasons are two fold. First, almost everyone will probably want to fiberglass the hull. I wouldn't want to do that with a bunch of 1yd squares of home depot fiberglass. I want so spend $30 and order 5 yards of good fiberglass. Same for the resins. Home Depot isn't the place to buy them.

Also I'm starting a build of a moderately more $ boat. I'm building out of honeycomb core. The reality is that I can buy a 4x8 sheet of honeycomb for $30. It's cheaper and better than marine plywood.

Anyway, my point is that I think I could build a great 16' sailboat for $2k that will last many years, but I don't think I could do it for under $300, or with only hardware store materials.


And to add, I started a one sheet sailboat. And completed the hull, but never sailed it. I ended up scrapping the project because my state requires licensing and title. The cost was considerably more than the cost to build the actual boat. I decided if I'm going to spend the time and effort to build a sailboat, let's build one that I want to keep for 10 years.

If you only intend to sail these boats once or twice, maybe the $300 limit is reasonable.

One other suggestion I would have is to find some type of supplier for the rigging so everyone could just buy a "kit" that includes mast, class sails, and rigging. If you could find some way to supply that for $300, you'd be a long way toward getting your class started.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:29 PM
Stumble Stumble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luff tension View Post
From an old rule I read once, I think it was Formula 28; after establishing a maximum spend value, be it $300 or $3000, you could then put into the rules the race committee/class organization reserve the right to purchase the winning boat of a major regatta for this amount. Failure to sell to them means forfeiture of the title.
This is a terrible idea. Because it discounts the time and effort it takes to build the boat entirely. Just some simple math here... I built a one sheet boat a few years back that took around 20 hours to complete. Even at minimum wage that time is worth about $100, at my billable rate that boat cost me $4,000 in labor. Now I built it for fun, but if I had to surrender the boat for a few hundred dollars I certainly wouldn't bother taking the trophy home. And I am not sure what this idea does to expand the class.

On the other hand the OP's idea of surrendering the plans for the boat would allow anyone to copy the design, as well as controlling the costs since everyone could shop their own materials to determin if someone had over spent.


As for the budget.

I am not a designer, but from the plans I have seen, a 16'x8 boat is going to have 5-10 sheets of plywood in it. Even cheap stuff from lowes is going to cost around $30 a sheet. A $300 budget just doesn't fit that material requirement. This means designs will have to be limited not by quality, but by maxing the amount of boat for the amount of materials that can be bought. This forces hulls to compressed shapes instead of allowing some freedom in the design aspect.

At the same time the budget won't allow for things like using high quality materials, so boats have a minimal lifespan, to me this must be avoided. If someone chooses to build from box store lumber, and I choose to build from marine ply, neither have an advantage on the race course, but my boat will be around for years longer. This type of advantage I think is reasonable, it is the use carbon fiber, nomex, ect that should be controlled in a budget boat, not build quality.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:41 PM
Jetboy Jetboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luff tension View Post
From an old rule I read once, I think it was Formula 28; after establishing a maximum spend value, be it $300 or $3000, you could then put into the rules the race committee/class organization reserve the right to purchase the winning boat of a major regatta for this amount. Failure to sell to them means forfeiture of the title.
This type of rule is fairly common in local low budget classes of auto racing. There's always some a-hole that thinks he needs to win by spending $1500 on a $300 spending cap boat. Because there's no way to really do a cost analysis, it makes an easy way to put a real limit on the cost of the boats. I would suggest something like 3 or even 5 times the build material limit as your must sell value. Something that would be a really good price to sell for if you actually built within the rules. So if the class was for $300 build limit, make the selling value $2000.

The buyout provision could actually do away entirely with the building cost limit. Just say we suggest a build cost of no more than X amount, but at the end of any race, if a competitor offers to buy your boat for Y amount you must sell or forfeit your race. Works a lot easier than trying to enforce a strict spending cap.

I do like the idea of the plans though. That might work great for boats. For auto racing it's really hard to do. You can't just look at an engine and tell if it's stock or has $15,000 in internal upgrades.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:56 PM
Petros Petros is offline
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Thanks all for your reply.

I think only a boat snob would think a $3000 cost limit is a good idea. We want to encourage lot of people to get into sailing by offering good designs that are inexpensive to build, and I want to keep the rules simple. I would consider $500. but it has to be low enough to not scare people off from entering. The idea is a low cost challenge, built a good performing boat for a very low amount of money. Not much of a challenge if you have a bigger budget. If so, entrants will build boats that look like all the other boats out there. That is not the object.

Boats do not need to be covered with epoxy to be good boats, you are stuck in a paradigm I want to break if you think that is the only way boats must be built. Careful selection and design will allow durable boat to be built with inexpensive materials, I have kayaks that cost less than $100 to build and are over 10 years old. I have built over 14 small boats, only one used fiberglass and I wish never to deal with fiberglass again, thank you. I have built durable adult kayaks that weigh only 15-16 lbs that use NO epoxy.

I do not care for "claim" rules, people who spend a lot of time developing their own design could lose it all too easy. Also can be used by unscrupulous competitors to eliminate competition.

The size limits are boats that can be easily towed or car topped, and 16 ft is the longest boat that does not need to have a license in this state (similar in most). It keeps costs down. I also thought of height to include keel and mast (overall height), but again it would limit creativity for no reason. Most can buy 20 ft long lumber or alum tubing to build a mast, and a mast length is easy to measure. It can be deck stepped or keel stepped, that is up to the designer. Also I had thought of sail size or fabric limits (specify one type of sail cloth), but that again is a paradigm limit. What if someone wants to try a rigid wing sail, let them! Suitable and inexpensive tarp or Tyvek makes perfectly good sail cloth for this type of competition. Who knows what people will discover as they go through the hardware store, why limit it?

Also, some of the replies seem to be thinking it is a one design class. The idea is not just a skill test, but also a design competition, with wide open rules. Eventually it might settle down to one style or design that competes well, and that is the reason the winning design must be retired (not all of the boats, just the winner). To keep new designs coming. And if someone is coming in 2nd or 3rd several years running, they might eventually win, and then the time limit starts are their boat as well. If other boats are always just also-rans, they can continue to race their boat as long as they want. Most people is small boat racing keep at it even though they know they will never win a championship, that will not change for them. ONLY the winner must retire the boat after 5 years, and after their first win, others can build copies so the design will not be as much as an advance after the first season. Costs will stay low for most entrants, only the people that want to always be winning must build a new boat every five years. And at only $300, it will be the least of your expenses.

BTW, the cost does not include sales tax, shipping charges, etc. it is just a measure of raw material costs.

I was considering leaving paint, repairs/replacement and maintenance wide open. A new coat of paint or replacing an identical design of sail will not add to the cost of building the boat. There must be some allowance for changes in the design to encourage experimentation (suppose you want to try a new sail design, there must be a one for one replacement value allowed).

The sail area to displacement is an interesting idea, but it complicates it. That might be a good way to handicap a race, that could be added later as more chapters are started. I also thought of adjusting the cargo rule so weight of cargo plus crew equals a certain value. The rules however do allow anyone to build the boat, and anyone to sail it: it does not have to be the builder that races it. So people could team up to race and build. This is as much a design competition as much as a race.

I do like the idea of limiting the designs to say hard chines or using single curved flat panels, keeps the builds simple, we will consider it. OTOH, what if someone develops a simple and low cost cold molding method, that is one of the benefits that could come out of wide open rules. I do not think there is any inherent advantage to hard chine vs. round bilge design, some are better at some things, but not at others. Hard chines are better at planing, but have more drag at displacement speeds. the design of the race coarse should give a mix of speed challenges.

I also occurred to us to offer a list of suitable existing designs that can be acceptable if low cost materials are used. Just to encourage people to enter in the beginning of the series who do not want to design their own boat.

The object is to create good sailing designs that use low cost materials. No reason that quality and durable boats can not be built using low cost materials, it just become one of the creative challenge for the designer.
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  #15  
Old 03-20-2012, 02:09 PM
Jetboy Jetboy is offline
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Why limit to monohulls?

A small cat or tri may be just as easy and low cost to build and might perform nicely.

Also, possibly you should at least try to work out some deal with a steel yard to supply aluminum masts relatively inexpensively. I think a 20' extruded 2.5" .250 wall tube in 6160 or similar is going to eat at least half the build cost, especially if you're buying at full retail price.
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