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

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

  1. Jetboy
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    I think you are wise to try to stick to around 14' as a max. length. There's no reason someone can't build a shorter one if they like. There's no getting around an expensive registration fee in Utah. Boats under 15' are cheaper, but will probably still go over $100 for your first year's registration.
  2. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Boycot Utah!

    Dammit, why would they place confiscatory fees on something as peaceful and green as a little sailboat. Greed or the absence of an effective sailing lobby in that state maybe. Storm the Bastille!
  3. Steve Clark
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    Steve Clark Charged Particle

    Another way to look at it.

    This is a fine idea as long as everyone stays half assed.
    But do you really want to sponsor disposable boats?
    If you allow people to take longer and work harder, then you just end up with boats built out of lousy materials. I can saw veneer out of shelf stock and glue it together with Titebond and have a cold molded hull that is light and fair and in every way the equal of the best boats available it will just be less durable. The only reason I would do this is if there was enough prestige associated with winning this event to make it worth my while.
    What you really want to do is figure out a contest to see who can be most clever with "routine" materials.
    The best way to do this is to have the crews arrive without boats and to build them during a set period before the regatta out of materials they can source at X Store. So you arrive at X Store at the regatta site on Monday morning and schedule racing on Saturday and Sunday. Work would only be permitted during store hours. This could be a marketing demonstration for the store and could be done under a tent in the parking lot. As an added curve, you could handicap the boats according to the material charges made at the store, so the guys who pay more for stuff or build bigger boats will have to go faster to win.
  4. Jetboy
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    My buddy and I were building one sheet sailboats, and scrapped them half finished after seeing how complicated it would be to have them inspected and vin plate added, license, registered, etc. Since there's no minimum limit, even a $50 8' sailboat costs $100+ to register.
  5. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    How bad is the penalty for ignoring bureaucracy and playing dumb? (the "I'm just a backyard builder and didn't know any better defence"). Bet you could buy a reprieve or two. What would they do a ten year old paddling a wood scow box across a pond? Shoot him?

    This build concept seems so fun and simple. Why can't sailing little cheap garage boats be?

    I live north of the 49th, and there is no excess of uniformed officials here trying to justify their budget and existence by hassling citizens on trivial issues. No Department of Pointless Homeland Security Theatre here. Like patting down four year olds (and eighty year olds) in airports - that is so stupid it just hurts my brain.

  6. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    According to the Utah state DMV, sailboats under under 15' are only $10 fee, and under 19' are $15. There are other fees required, and there may also be an inspection fee for a home built boat, but I could not find that info.

    However, if you are not far from the state line, it does say that boats registered in other states, but do not spend more than 60 consecutive days in the state are exempt. Now you just have to find a local state that does not required registering a motorless boat under 15 ft.
  7. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member

    Moth was and is an 11 ft dinghy, experimental, in that only length and sail area are specified.
    Gave rise to the extreme Moths, so the original style without foils and outriggers ect is called Classic Moth.

    I designed, built, and raced 4 Moth hulls in early 60s. My spar and sail moved from boat to boat.

    I could build a Moth with sail for 300$ in the 60s, but not now.

    The sail would cost at least that if commercial made.
  8. Jetboy
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    I don't think you'd ever make it to the water. Every body of water that I know of in Utah is some type of state park. They all cost about $10 a day for use, and you have to go through a gate. I usually buy a $70 annual pass. They would probably stop you there.

    Then, at least at all the ramps I've been to, there will be an inspection station to stop and question where you've been with the boat to try to ensure that quagga muscles don't spread. You have to sign a form for them. Only a handful of times have I been through the full inspection at the dock. They climb on, check your vin plate, check all your life preservers, check your throwable, check to see that your fire extinguisher is current, and take a look at your registration. I've had that done about once a year since I moved here. I have a 17' daysailer, but since I have a 2hp outboard on it, I have to have all the "stuff" that every other power boat has.

    I lived previously in Montana for 25 years. I never paid to use a boat ramp. never had any type of boat inspection, and rarely if ever saw any type of law enforcement at the lakes. It's a different world in Utah... Part of the problem is that there are a lot of people, desert climate, not very many fresh water lakes, and they are very heavily used.

    Anyway, with respect to registering, I'll have to get out my registration to see what all is charged. It's about $70 a year. They have tax, sticker fees, registration fees, some sort of environmental fee, and then the counties add on their own local fee (for what I don't know). It all adds up. I'm sure there's a fee for a vin being assigned, and then another fee for an inspection of the boat. It all ads up quickly.

    I don't want to derail this thread though. I think it's a great idea to get sailing back into something that the average person can afford to do, and something that will get more kids excited about sailing. That's really what we need is a way to get more kids involved. It used to be that a boyscout or school could buy a couple sunfish for reasonable price and go have some fun. There really isn't any boat like that anymore. Most kids groups can't afford to drop $8-10,000 per boat on what is now often considered an entry level boat. I think it's going to be really difficult to find a perfect price limit where you can build something that's not a one time use, or disposable boat, but also not too expensive that it will price a lot of people out.

    If there were a legitimate fleet of sailboats like this that I could go race on tuesday nights, I'd be more than happy to pay the fee. I might even be able to go talk to my local representative and request a special classification in the law for sailboats under 15'. If I could show that this was popular with other communities, but our registration fees and rules were cost prohibitive, I think we could get a bill passed to change the rules. One good thing about Utah is that, at least my local representatives, are really easy to talk to, and are usually willing to run a bill if there's a good reason for it.

    Anyway, I really don't want to derail this thread anymore. Let's get back to talking about the class of boats.
  9. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    I just noticed Steve's post and I have to say it makes a lot of sense. I struggled with this set of issues building a Home Depot style boat for my son. It used building center materials - but I opted for epoxy over construction adhesive and two part poly auto paint over house paint (tried first). The result was a much better, longer lasting boat than if I'd gone low end on the important stuff, but the price doubled.

    I've been down this road before and encountered the exact same set of choices. Good quality craftsman can produce spectacular results - with longevity only limited by time and choices like adhesives and paint.

    If you were interested in following Steve's suggestion (as it is a good one) I'd also consider limiting tools to hand power only. One of the major differences between the average garage builder and someone like Steve in his Lab of Luxury is what they can do with the tools at hand. Limiting tools is a good way to keep skills under control as well (providing time is also a controlled factor).

    Taking power saws, routers, thickness planers, sanders and joiners off the table really provides much more control. If the goal of the competition is getting more people on the water and changing entry-level demographics, eliminating $2-3000.00 worth of shop facilities makes a difference.

    I could build a perfectly acceptable small boat with a good Japanese Dozuki, a block plane, a home-made longboard and screwdrivers. Keep materials to plywood, 2x2's, 2x4s, varnish, solvent, latex house paint, Styrofoam and PL Premium adhesive. That's about all that would fit in the proposed budget anyway.

    I think disposable is okay in this context. No matter how good the craftsmanship, longevity is determined by adhesives and barrier coating. Unless you are willing concede epoxy/polyester, the boat will be disposable and won't last more than a season or two with a lot of care and protection (dry sailing, covering, wintering inside etc.).


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  10. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I appreciate the thoughtful comments, but I have entered a number of contests where we had to build at the event. Though they are fun because the whole boat is done in one weekend, it is very exhausting and you just do not have the time to do a better job on the construction. It is also costly in terms of the time committed to it since you enter with no control over time and location of the event. A home build would avoid that problem, you build at your leisure.

    I also want to avoid that time constraint since it is also a hindrance to innovation and experimentation. Also not everyone can afford to come to a build event, unrestricted building time would allow people to work on their projects at their leisure. Also, if you were going to build up some forms, a strong back or other inexpensive tooling, it would not be practical to do at a controlled build event, so it would also limit creativity.

    When the boats were built at the event under a time constraint, it always resulted in "one event" disposable boats, another thing I wanted to avoid. The idea here is to go beyond that.

    To win a series of races over a season, the boat would have to be good for at least one season of racing and practice. With paints and sealants not counting towards the cost, nor the cost of maintenance and repairs, these rules should allow longer lasting more durable boats. Building a new boat each season would be the least of your expenses anyway. If your boat was so lightweight it could not last the season, that you have no way of winning. You can not win series by entering several different disposable boats. That is also part of the strategy that anyone entering the contest will have to calculate, light weight vs. being durable enough to finish enough events to win.

    I like the idea of limiting the type of tools and tooling to keep costs down, but I do not know how you would prevent cheating. A rule that requires construction techniques suitable for a home shop without extensive tooling is not a bad idea. Is there a fair way to enforce this that would be applied uniformly, yet would not limit creativity? Or perhaps submitting build pictures, along with a BOM and purchase receipts, can be part of the registration process. It is just somewhat limiting if it was followed, and somewhat risky in terms of enforcement since it is subjective. Even listing the type of tools allowed would not prevent cheating. But most of the tools you need can be accumulated used at reasonable prices. Table saws are not that costly, I paid only $20 for a nice Makita at a garage sale, I also paid about that much for a Delta joiner. A builder could pay someone to do the planing or milling if they did not want to buy expensive power tools. I think it would be simpler just to not even regulate construction methods other than perhaps a statement in the rules that the constructor method be suitable for a typical home shop. I do not think that there is any design advantage that would cause you to win more races because you used expensive wood working tools.
  11. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    As I have done almost exactly as you proposed (home build, better adhesives and paint, taken time, good shop facilities) I can attest to how good the end result can be. My son's boat (now outgrown) is certainly as good if not better than many commercial efforts. Got to sell / give it away this spring.

    There IS a huge difference between shade tree builders like me and professionals like Steve Clark. The quality difference would certainly be the difference between winning races, given equal talent in the boat. The contest is even more unbalanced as Steve's skill in the boat exceeds mine as much as his skill in the shop does.

    Steve's subtle point was that he could build a lightweight hull incorporating complex compound curves and fair hull shapes via cold molding as good as anything on the water today - including carbon foam laminates. His only codicil was longevity. And I don't doubt his assessment one bit. His plywood canoe builds of the past two years have been world class and competitive - probably causing much frustration for the guys building the same level canoe with materials costing five times as much.

    The other unmentioned skills deficit lies between the chair and the computer screen when it comes to tools, experience and hull modelling. Hull design, tweaking and development using low tech materials highly depends on who is driving the mouse and understanding what shapes are possible and effective. Reading Bethwaite's High Performance Sailing and understanding hull evolutions and minor changes that resulted in the NS14s gives a real idea how even little things make big performance differences.

    There is a real wide skills gap between guys like Steve and Chris Maas and the rest of us.

    Although I understand your intent to build better boats - being present at a weekend build with Steve and watching his techniques and choices would be a better clinic for my skills than years of practise alone in my garage. He's that good (and I'm that bad). I see a lot of value in shared builds and skills transference.

    Perhaps a modification to the group build concept would be in order. Boats could evolve and change over the season, but the first race would be done after the build weekend. Next race with better paint. Next race with better rig. Next race, better foils. You get the idea. That way the tools on the initial build could be controlled.

  12. Steve Clark
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Steve Clark Charged Particle

    My thought was that the "tent" would be a common shop. Builders would share techniques, ideas and tools. This would be more than half the point. I seldom visit a shop without coming in contact with some small idea that a clever builder has figured out.
    I also think it is reasonable to build a fairly reasonable boat in 5 days that will last more than a weekend. I used to do one of these projects every year or so under the banner "On the 7th day he went yachting." Some of those are still kicking around 20 years later.
  13. WhiteDwarf
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    Group builds save cost and can reach beyond the immediate sailing community

    I apologise, but I am going to sound arrogant...

    There are two predominant themes in this forum and both are excellent. The first looks to high performance and experimentation, with little regard to cost; the second to the community of sailors and boat builders, how it enriches our lives and how that enrichment can be extended. This thread sits perfectly in the latter camp.

    Petros, you are to be congratulated on an excellent concept. I wonder if the very important cost control issues could be addressed through a series of community builds. The following from a recent Firebug Class newsletter...

    "New ‘Bug Fleet at Carnarvon WA

    The Carnarvon Yacht Club is building
    10 or more ‘Bugs with club members
    doing the work and using Development
    Commission Government funding for six
    of the boats."

    Bulk buying saved significant costs including shipping to a remote area.

    Note, the government in question, Western Australia, was providing seed funding to give disadvantaged kids, an opportunity to participate, and gain recognition and self respect.

    We also had disadvantaged rural kids come to the Sydney International Boat Show and build one in public. For some this was their first visit to a large city!

    Every sport I know, has it's hands out for government funds. The sailing elites always want government money for the Olympics and International classes. This project has the potential to give funders far better value, and to help grow the community of sailors.

    As an isolated kid after WW2, the sailing community made me welcome, perhaps saved my life. Petros, make this work and you will be in danger of becoming a secular saint. Good luck.
  14. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Good concept, but will be hard maintain and keep simple in practice. The complexity is already trying to grow!

    It also seems like a large boat for a car-topper. Maybe have 2 size classes and let the market decide which one is really needed . . . ?

    I think the cost limit may result in a combination of dangerously inadequate boats or cheating, although it will also produce excellent designs that are economical to build.

    Price variations between different locales will cause trouble if it spreads; I am particularly sensitive to higher prices for lower ply qualitity in Canada for example. It might work better with a limit on quantities of material - easier to verify.
    1 person likes this.

  15. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I couldn't agree with you more.

    If you stick to quantity and quality of materials, banning the really expensive stuff (such as carbon fiber for the hull and rig, mylar for the sails, and expensive fittings), and limiting the amount of material (such as, say, 5 sheets of plywood), you can keep the cost somewhat within reason, and maybe even end up creating more practical and serviceable designs. If epoxy is going to be allowed, the amount of it should be limited.

    Limiting other things that make boat construction costly and/or difficult should be considered as well. A minimum weight for the hull(s) would probably be a good idea for this reason.
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