New low-cost "hardware store" racing class; input on proposed rules

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Petros, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I would not limit it to wood either, except the organization that offered to support the contest is the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle. they hold sailing excursion, lessons, wood boat building workshops, etc. so they needed a reason to support it. There are similar organizations around the county as well, Mystic Seaport, also here at Port Townsend the Wooden Boat Center, as well as elsewhere. so this would give us an easy way to expand the competition through these organiztions. It would be easier I think to get sponsorship in the future from companies that supply to wood boat builders as well, so we are looking to the future with this competition.

    There is also an idea is that perhaps someone might invent a new way to use wood in a hull that would revive wood boat industry. Besides there are many hobby wood workers, not nearly as many fiberglass or metal hobbyists. I can see a lot more people wanting to participate if they can make low cost competitive boats using wood over just about anything else. Wood working tools are relatively low cost, mostly hand tools.

    Besides, as a building material there are few things that are cheaper to build with than wood anyway. The composite sheets are still viable under these rules, you just need a wood frame inside it. The rule is the structure must be wood or cellulose based, not the whole boat. If it was going to be a salvaged materials contest, than making it wide open is to be considered (I have entered those kinds of contests too, lots of fun). Except that would mean the designs would not be repeatable for others to build, hence the retail cost only. Using widely available suppliers either from national chains (or at least their prices as a measure of cost) or mail/internet supplier would level the playing field for material costs.

    Catbuilder, suggest how the rules could be made simpler? A limited budget, max length width and mast height, and than you go race it, winner is low score for the day. That is it. There has to be a way of measuring the cost of materials fairly across large regions of the country, so it by necessity has to limit where you can buy the materials. Or do you have another suggestion on how to accomplish that?

    It occurred to me that rather than a max budget, create a handicap based of cost of materials, so it would favor lower cost boats. But that would complicate it and would compromise the stated intent. You will still have people entering $10,000 boats to blow everyone away, too far off the intent.

    The idea is to demonstrate you do not have to spend a lot of money to build good performing boats.
     
  2. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    I wish I had the free time to be able to really put some deep thought into coming up with new, less restrictive rules but I'm in the middle of a several thousand hour catamaran build which is my full time job, 7 days a week.

    I spent my evenings researching my fit out and posting on the forum here and there.

    I will come back to the thread at some point when I have a few hours free and suggest some ideas for better rules (so it's fun).

    Based on you post below, it looks like you have the spirit there (being inventive, building a low cost boat), but it seems restrictive. Here are a couple quick ones off the top of my head without really putting proper thought into the rules as written:

    1) Just break out the mono and multi's into two different events so people could do each. If this was set up to be less restrictive, I'd do it every year, probably trying a monohull the first year (because I'm building a 45 x 25 catamaran right now) and try a trimaran the next year. Just for variety and enjoyment.

    2) You have the wrong sponsor. Who would benefit most from a huge class of hardware store boats??? A hardware store! You get Home Depot or Ace or another national brand store to sponsor the group and advertise at the events and (more importantly to them) right in your flyers and stuff. Then you can lose that wooden boat restriction, though I do appreciate that you can still use fiberglass sheets. There are a lot more Home Depots around the country (including on inland lakes) than there are wooden boat organizations, so it would make more sense to use them.

    I like the handicap idea a lot, actually. You would just have to make it work better. A $10,000 entry should be so handicapped that it would come in as a tie with a guy in a $5 wooden barrel using a picnic blanket and a broom for a sailing rig. :D

    This is generally a very good idea, BTW. I think I'd be interested in competing in it some day.

     
  3. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Catbuilder,

    1) whenever you start a new class you always have a hard time getting entrants, so I wanted to start out with monohulls, and as the number of entrants build up, add the multi-hull class. Of course perhaps we can just drop the distinction for now and separate them later as we get more of each type, or just have two different awards, one for monohull, one for multi if we have more than one multi enter (it is not like there is a lot prize money-that will come later with sponsorship). There may not be much difference in performance in the early entrants anyway since they all will in effect be "experimental" configurations. We will have to consider it, since your logic makes some sense and it would simplify the rules for now. I will suggest it at our next meeting.

    2) Most of the entrants will be primarily of wood anyway, so I do not think that will be a issue. We want to do one "demonstration" event, and than solicit sponsorship later from national hardware store chains. Of course there are other type of sponsors we could find as well, power tool manufacturers, sailing or wood working magazine, etc. We can maybe simplify the rules to state the boat must have part of the structure out of wood, so if you can build a non wood hull within the budget, you just have to put one piece of wood on it to meet the rule requirement.

    In terms of making them more durable using more costly materials, this could be accomplished by exempting all finishes from the measure of cost. So you could use more costly finishes if you want to make it last longer. There is not really a durability issue in terms of hardware store lumber and marine rated lumber, it only means it will weight more to get the equivalent durability out of the two different quality of materials. And for grown lumber it just means you have to select from the pile carefully, and than rip your own materials from the larger planks, avoiding the undesirable parts of the lumber. Or building up your own laminates. I have done both to save money.
     
  4. rxcomposite
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    rxcomposite Senior Member

    Why not take the idea from the soap box derby? First it is just a box with any kind of 4 wheels in it. Then the wheels and the steering became standard, sponsored and available only from the organizers, the rest can be anything out of scraps, plastic, metal sheet, or new lumber. Then limit the workmanship so it can be built in a garage or duplicated without resorting to expensive machining or technology.

    Why not make a class? Monohulls, multihulls, age group? More winners= more happier competitors.

    After all, it is supposed to be fun, not a Formula 1 race. Let everybody dream but be able to participate.
     
  5. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Precisely...eliminate variables and expense by using standard components...like a standard mast and sails.

    Best for home builders to only experiment, design and build to one challenge...aerodynamics or hydrodynamics.

    One design sail plan over a builder designed and built hull.

    If the designers hull concepts is slow...scrap the hull then build another for next season. The rig and sails ...the expensive gear that is difficult to build at home ...always stays the same ready for the new hull
     
  6. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    However you proceed "standard mast and sails" must be made from materials available at the hardware/lumber store, no exotic materials. Specify mast, rudder and centerboard be made of wood and sail be made from tarp or tyvek, or even 6 mil poly-film reinforced with duct tape.
     
  7. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Good idea, Hoyt.
     
  8. rxcomposite
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    rxcomposite Senior Member

    It has a multiplying effect. Those who lose can keep the sail/mast and build a better hull to test and compete the next season. Those who don't want can give the standard sail to those who want to join. Pretty soon there will be thousands of sail available for trials and development. More will participate. Who knows, maybe this could lead to a different class by itself.

    Maybe the winner can surrender the winning boat to the organizer for posterity. He keeps the cash reward.
     
  9. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    All good ideas, I will try to address each:

    The problem with limiting it to one rig configuration is it limits creativity. We already have a size limit on the mast, could add a sf of sail area, but that I think is irrelevant since we have a total cost limit anyway. Though it might be possible to have a "standard rig" to use as an option, for a certain fixed "cost", so if some do not want to build their own sail rig, they have that option, or just create a class for the standard rig.

    That was one of the reasons to limit all purchases to the hardware store, so the only "sail cloth" available is what you can find in the stores: tarps, tyvek, etc. So you can try out different configurations using the low cost materials, and not exceed the cost limit since removing the old sail with a new one made from the same low cost materials does not add to the cost to build it.

    It would also be great to limit construction methods to save cost: like "hand held tools only", but I do not know of any way to prevent cheating that way. And it seems an artificial contrivance to say limit it to "blue tarp and duck tape sails only", if there is a total cost limit, what does it matter? Even tyvek sails can be sewn rather than taped, and you could hire an expensive sail maker to make tyvek sails, I do not see how you can prevent cheating, so why bother, just allow it as part of the rules.

    Working with wood usually means fairly easy hand processes, so that would tend to limit costly construction methods right from the beginning. How can you limit construction to low cost methods and not restrict creativity, and prevent cheating? I can not think of anyway of doing of stopping a cheat in construction process. I have been to events where you had to build the boat at the event (with the judges present), and than race it against the others. This would prevent cheating, but it means you can not take your time to build it better (limiting construction methods) and the boat was only good for that one event. I want to get past those limitations to allow people to build better boats that are good for multiple events.

    All entrants have to build their boats at a sponsored event workshop with judges present? Also limits the people who would enter, and add costs and time constraints for the entrants (some would have to travel long ways to get to the building sessions). Specify in the rules that construction methods are limited to those available to amateur builders in a well equipped home shop? How would you stop or limit cheating? With each boat registration, along with a BOM and record of materials receipts, have a brief description of the construction method(s) used, with photos of the build process? The registration judges will than have to make a determination if the method is acceptable or not, if it meets the intent of the contest rules? If you were trying something new it seems that would be risky if you will be able to race at all.

    AS for categories we have considered a mono and multi hull, plus a child's group (under 18 year), but would that be crew age, or designer and builder's age? How would you prevent "helpful parents" from cheating the intent of that rule?

    Also it would be easy to add new groups of different sizes, or even different materials limits, like a $300, a $600 and a $1000 category. OR perhaps a "junior" category of 10' loa x 5' beam x 12' mast with a lower cost limit.

    Any number of categories and awards (best new design, most innovative entrant, etc.) can be added, and I would like to add, as we get more interest and more participants. It would be especially great to get high school and junior high school kids away from the electronic devices and actually do something creative and physical, building and racing a sailboat of your own design could build a lot of important lift skills for a real future career. Darn little "hands-on" skills now a days as it is (I am saying this as a small business owner and employer). I would like this type of contest to become nationwide and to involve lots of different clubs, groups and local chapters. I can even see both high school and collages with NA programs building teams to enter this type of contest.

    But I have to choose one set of rules to get started. I am grateful for all your comments in developing ideas, But I want to keep it focused on allowing maximum creativity, and limiting cost, with as simple a set of rules as possible.

    Would cutting the size down to max loa to 14' save costs significantly? IT would certainly limit the utility of the boat, down from 16'.

    After considering the current material costs I would like to raise the limit to perhaps $600, with the warning that that would be the lifetime limit cost, except for paint, repairs and maintenance (those are unlimited). So if you replace the sail for example, if the new design costs more in materials, you have to stay within that total cost, or you are disqualified. Or if you decide the hull has to be stronger, the reinforcement costs goes towards the total cost. So you would try to stay under say $500, and allow $100 in developmental costs in a new design. Or you have to build a new boat to enter.
     
  10. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    A noble experiment with the devil in the details. The presumption is that large participation is desired. If that is the case then you must make it attractive and family fun. Wives and children play into this most definitely.

    Soft pedal the racing aspect so that it is only part of the whole deal. Organize sailing fleets to some picnic area, do something like poker runs, even camping events. Since everyone wants to go faster than the other guy, set up a hundred yard broad reaching course and have the competitors do individual timed runs. beginner sailors will try something like that when they would not think of venturing onto a real three cornered race course. Also make a requirement that all boats must be equipped for rowing. Do some rowing races in the same course. That will get the family involved and expand the potential enormously. You would do racing regattas too, but not to the detriment of the promotional aspect.

    Sailors among us know that whenever there are two boats in the water they are not racing despite the fact that each is trying fervently to get there first. Racing will come naturally. In order to get it off the ground you must be devious and first get the families behind the idea.

    The comments above are difficult for a long term racing regatta hound like me. I am merely reciting the promotional realities.
     
  11. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Also remember that Race boats are optimized for the race course.

    Stipulate in class rules that all courses will be only windward leeward.

    Upwind , downwind courses produce the best boats, reaching boats are oddballs and cost big. .
     
  12. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    I just want to clarify that when I mentioned the duct tape it was not meant as a substitute and ban on sewing but as a reinforcement of the sail at the points of highest stress.
     
  13. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Good points Messabout, Several simple contests, rather than a big race, would help keep the intimidation out of it. Races or contests that are more like a family outing; most number of coolers carried, or even husband/wife, father/children, Mother/daughter races.

    I want these boats to be practical (useful for more than just racing), hence the 100 kg cargo requirement. But you gave me the idea that perhaps we can have another score to add to the events, who can carry the most cargo out and back around a buoy. Since a number of them might swamp, it would be a great crowd pleaser.

    Hoyt, I have both sewn sails, and have used duck tape to make them. I like the duct tape, faster and easier to make adjustments, and it really toughens the corners, etc. I just would see no reason to limit it.

    I think it would be fun to see a real slick conventional looking boat entered, tediously built and finished hull, expertly sewn sails, fancy bright paint, and have it beaten by a rather crude looking unpainted plywood scow with duck tape and blue tarp sails.

    The whole objective is to create a venue that proves you do not need to spend a lot of money to build good sailing boats.
     
  14. Lister

    Lister Previous Member

    You dreaming right?
     

  15. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

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