US sailboat industry down 7% in 2006

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Chris Ostlind, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. TimClark
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    TimClark Senior Member

    CT249 and Chris: Luckily I am in one of the few areas that has somewhat high-performance sailing in the US. On the weekends I sail out of a club that has an active fleet of 505's, some OD14's, and this year there is going to be an I14. I know that on the weekends there is a program of racing opti kids that sail around the same time that the 505's go out. Awhile ago, I was one of those Opti kids that was somewhat into sailing, I would sail and do some racing, but that was about it, it wasn't really a passion for me. However, one weekend it was really ripping and I saw the 505s planing all over the place, that is what really sparked me to get more into sailing. I didn't realise that sailing could be that exciting until I saw those boats 3 sail reaching with a guy out on the trap. Now, sailing is a full blow obsession and passion for me, there isn't one hour in a day that I don't think about sailing. Personally, seeing those 505s going all over the place really sparked me to a new side of sailing that appealed to me. Now, I will crew on the 505's every now and then and I am always thinking about how I can make all the slow boats I have access to go somewhat fast (not fast at all, but it still seems faster than what I'm used to). I know many kids that have experienced the same type of "awakening" after a guy brought a bunch of 29ers around Long Island Sound for the juniors to demo. Many kids that had the same feeing about how sailing was fun, racing was fun, are now in the same mindset as me of, "What can I do to certain boats to make them "extreme" or skiff-like."

    Luckily, I got the chance to sail a 505 and that confirmed how much fun sailing really could be. There is a guy, John Wyles, that owns two 505s at the local yacht club, and there was one weekend where he took three 505 and high performance new-comers out. He has two boats and he put one of them in the hands of a 15 year old that knew how to sail well, but had never done real high performance sailing. I sailed the boat for two days, and after that, I was absolutely HOOKED. I think John is an excellent ambassador to how people should act if they have high performance boats.
  2. longliner45
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    longliner45 Senior Member

    I live in a industrial part of us ,,,,housing is down and so is manufacturing,people gotta eat ,,before they can play ,,thanks to nafta ,,from clinton,, and corporate greed ,,it is only going to get worse
  3. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    Flying Sailboats

    And just imagine the effect a boat like the Moth on Foils is having on kids everywhere-those lucky enough to actually see one. And the Moth is a difficult boat to learn to sail but a bi-foil monofoiler DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DIFFICULT TO SAIL! New boats are being developed that will illustrate this point well and demonstrate FLYING
    in a little as 5MPH of wind-and jumping in 15...
    Tim, do you think a well designed, very fast, ,easy to sail foiler would appeal to young people? Would a two person foiler that could actually take kids for a ride be a hit?
    Your enthusiasm is great!
    Longliner-you've got to have hope and imagination!(Don't read the "seaworthiness" thread :)
  4. TimClark
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    TimClark Senior Member

    Doug, both ideas are great, and kids would absolutely love something like that. Problem is keeping price down to the point where families can afford them and they aren't rediculously expensive. If there was a foiler that was easy to sail, fast to sail, and fun, that was under 3 grand, I think it would become something that is really popular. Problem is this would be hard to do, also, most families would think that 3 grand would be pushing it. Think of something along the lines of Sunfish, if something could be that cheap, yet extremely exciting and fun to sail, then it would be an instant hit, problem is that it is extremely hard to do something like that.
  5. longliner45
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    longliner45 Senior Member

    there is sunfish and hobies every where,just cant afford them now.
  6. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    And just think... they only cost $3K at retail with a cut for the dealer, transportation from China, or wherever, along with a legitimate profit for the manufacturer and his R&D time included. Not

    Let's just brainstorm for a minute on this potential. The only way these boats can work in a real world environment is to make them seriously light. That speaks to carbon, Kevlar and/or Boron with bagged epoxy composites over a very thin foam core. Lots of fiddling to get the bag process right so that quality control won't bite the builder in the butt with comebacks and warranty claims.

    That part is reasonably doable, but carbon prices alone, as well as escalating epoxy costs are steadily pushing the build cost for one of the hulls into a really problematic number when trying to hit that $3K target (with a profit)

    Foils are another bag of stuff, altogether. Doug says jumping at will and low speed take-off and a trimmable section to allow high speeds. Potential manufacturers say, "Show me the money", cause all that ain't coming cheap if it's gonna be strong enough to take vertical loadings from a several foot drop. Again, carbon is being dialed into the build regime cause it fits the light and strong and it is moldable. (Though it comes at a real price)

    You have already blown the wad on the hull and the foils. Actually, you have blown more than the wad when you asked for the bad boy at $3K and you only have the hull with no rig, sail, racks and all the hardware necessary to get out on the water. Fastacraft is quoting a price in US dollars for their hull alone at USD $4,336 and that does not include shipping to a US destination.

    So, I hate to break the bad news, but there will not be a foiler, whether it’s a People’s device, or otherwise, in the local sailing club which they bought new for USD$3K

    Fact is, Fastacraft is suggesting a retail price of $12,836 for a complete boat and you pick it up in Australia. Likely it could be had for less if one purchases a bunch at the same time and has the ability to fill a container bound for US shores.

    So, the reality check is that the boat that used to be called the People's Foiler, is not really meant for the People like you or me, Tim. It's made for those with large wallets and heavy paycheck jobs. Or a Mom and Dad who have same and don't have problem one dropping, oh, say... $15 Large when all is said and done and you are driving home with the boat, a trailer, new sailing clothes, foil bags, you know.. all the stuff that is supposed to go with the most bitchin boat on the water.

    My Dad was a Jr. high school principal and he would have knocked me flat with a stare if I had ever suggested he plunk that kind of cash on a teenager’s boat that I'd likely find passe in a year or so. I'm not suggesting you are that kind of kid, but facts being what they are with teenagers, it's more of a reality than not and that is still a lot of money, no matter how you cut it.

    I see the market potential for this boat as a guy who has just graduated from high school. He has a job in which he's making more money than he ever thought possible, lives at home with little, if any, expense for costs of living and he hasn't met a gal who is bugging him to get married and start a family. He has a few golden years to bang around with the coolest sporting gear his big fat paycheck will allow and do all the stuff he wants before the shake-out of life and all the stuff that hits you, has a real hold on his time and "enormous" wealth.

    If it's a foiler that you really have to have, then I've shown you the target you have to hit with the money part of the equation.

    Maybe another nice boat is out there that will work for you until such time as you can muster the cash to make this decision? There are lots of them, especially used and they'll get you on the water where you can have a blast.
  7. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    In fact a new Moth foiler with pro sails, rig and foils can be had for around $8,000 if you're willing -and able-to do some of the work.
    But the Moth-at least now-is no Peoples Foiler. Even the highest production forseen by KA for the Bladerider pales in comparison to the sales potential of a well designed Peoples Foiler backed by a major company with the resources and committment to market on a worldwide scale.An innovative,well funded company-at least the size of Hobie Cat- using innovative processes with a first class marketing campaign and an extraordinary design is what it will take to bring a Peoples Foiler to the people. And there won't be just one Peoples Foiler-probably a singlehander to start and then a doublehander and then.... It will happen.
  8. TimClark
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    TimClark Senior Member

    I think there are more boats out there than the Moth that can be extremely thrilling but can be had for not a large sum of money (in relation to other boats). Also, I am using the Moth as a general example, I don't mean that it should be the only boat to inspire teens. First, there are boats like the International Canoe that are obviously extremely exciting, I think that planing around on a boat that has a beam of 2.5 feet while sitting on the end of a plank 6 feet from the hull is pretty "extreme". One example of how low the used boats are going for is Old Dog New Tricks is a fully carbon boat, and is defenitely competetive, the boat sold for $2800. There are boats that will get you into the class that are around $1500. Boats like this are exciting, high performance, and are cheap to buy used. Problem is, people are always looking to sail a different boat, more people have turned to focusing on boats like the Moth and new-comers to the skiff world instead of focusing on boats that we already have. Some people may say, "Well an IC doesn't have an asym." Well guess what, they are wrong, some ICs have been retrofitted with spinnakers. Also, the boats are not "old-fasioned", these boats are at the front of a lot of aspects. Just take a look at Steve Clarks Wonk, the boat has a wave-piercing bow, square top main, auto-tacking jib, carbon construction. This is not the only class that is experiencing a loss in interest, classes like the Contender are also suffering from lack of interest. People in the U.S many times blame the lack of high performance sailing because it is so expensive, but they don't realize that they can have a very high performance boat for under $2000. I believe that one of the reason the sailboat industry is down is because more people are resorting to crewing on boats rather than building or buying their own. At my yacht club, many corinthian members do not even consider buying their own boats, the club has a fleet of Ideal 18's that is provided to the members. The members certainly do not race boats enough to travel regionally and have their own boats, but are promoted to just use the boats that the yacht club provides. Also, in the one design fleets that are well established in the U.S, there is a good market of used boats, and so for many people, there is no reason to buy a new boat when they have access to a competetive used boat for a decent price.
  9. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Dont you think that regulations and parking are contributory. There use to be a day that you could go to recreational areas and launch boats, now with parking meters, wheel clamps, conservationalists, bird watchers. I think people are giving up on lots of things not just sailing.

    Windermere for instance in the North of England is impossible to park. I have been there 18 years ago and it was impossible to get rid of the car by any means, let alone sea the water. I had to drive home.
  10. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Not even close to a People's Foiler, unless you assume that all "People" have professional level boatbuilding skills... and it still exceeds the lad's budget by what... $5K. He can buy a much more versatile boat if he has that much to toss at the sport.

    Sounds just like BIC. Oh, I forgot, that's the same company you dissed last year when I suggested that the Open BIC was much more of a People's boat than any foiler will ever be. We'll have to scratch them off the list due to prior prejudice from Doug.

    So, you are suggesting that a company that fits that profile is going to do a magical, sell-through job in a boating business climate such as the one we are experiencing right now? I say if there are any takers for that PF paradigm you hype, that they are more than a little desperate... they're downright foolish.

    Here's a challenge for ya, Doug... give a call to Greg Ketterman at Hobie and see if he's got any little bit of interest in this winger of an idea. Go ahead, shop it around throughout the Hobie hallways and see if it gets any traction.

    Since Hobie dropped the Trifoiler from production, I'm sure they are truly hungry to fire-up some sort of rotomolded plastic foiler. Talk to Ruth Triglia and see if she thinks she can sell it. Talk to Dan Mangus and ask him if it can be marketed. Go for it.

    The worst that will happen is that they will politely tell you that you have a disconnect from the buying public and you should be taking on the risk yourself, if it looks so good to you.

    There's just so much to know about how a big company makes its product decisions.

    Here's a Hobie sailboat lineup with pricing:

    Bravo 12 $2,745 - Hobie Mono-Hull
    Wave 13 $4,295 - heavy duty club version
    Getaway $6,195 - includes roller jib - add $695 for wings
    Hobie16 SE $8,395
    Hobie 17 SE $9,995
    Hobie 17 Sport $10,595 including jib
    FX-1 (17') $12,395 Euro Model Spinnaker and Trap
    Tiger $15,195 (formula 18 with Spinnaker)
    Miracle20 $13,495 (white sails)
    TriFoiler Not Available

    The first three boats would qualify in the People's Pricing category and all of them are rotomolded plastic with simple hardware, no tricky foiling systems and they can be driven onto the sand by the rankest amateur with little, to no, damage at all to the boat. Very nearly foolproof sailing products.

    Look closely at the price of the Getaway. This is a sail away product with no boatbuilding skills necessary and it lives, complete (minus a trailer), at the outside of the pricing window of what I would sketchily refer to as, a People's Pricing structure.

    Rotomolding is the cheapest form of boat hull manufacturing. When you get a basic catamaran with few bells and whistles and only a hint of the performance of the FRP boats, how are you ever going to produce a risky, fiddly boat with low, market volume potential and have it succeed in a sales market with shrinking shares for small boats under 19'?

    There are some mighty big brains with gobs of experience trying to deal with that reality right now and they don't have any serious answers. When you get an answer to that.. y'all come on back and let us know how it's done.
  11. DGreenwood
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    DGreenwood Senior Member

    First I have to say I don’t really understand why it is assumed that a drop in boat sales represents a drop in the interest in sailing. Although there may be one, I don’t see any evidence that there is a direct relationship.
    No doubt the US needs to put some effort into improving participation in the sport. But that seems a separate issue.

    That drop could be for many reasons, a number of them mentioned previously. And the statistic might not be so gloomy. Chris Ostlinds fear that small boats were not being purchased spelt disaster for him could actually be good news. I suspect that statistics like this are concentrated primarily on the big boys …Vanguard et al. In fact there could be a move to smaller one off and limited production shops that were probably not part of the stats. The major drop was in the under 10 feet category. Many of which, in the past, were purchased because of handle ability. Light weight materials have made bigger dinghies cartoppable. And what about the inflatable market stealing away the yacht tender buyers? Small sailing dinghies used to be a commonly used as a tender.

    It isn’t clear in the report that the impact of imports on the sales market was taken into account.
    In the under 19 ft category a drop of just over a thousand units is easy to see being displaced by a combination of kite boarding and some of the other shifts previously mentioned.

    The persistent lack of interest in sailing disappoints me as well. But I think I know who to point the finger at. And that is the organization that is paid to take care of the problem of promoting the sport nationally. Elitist, functionally outmoded, flabby and just plain not doing its job.
    Taken from the US Sailing site:

    US SAILING is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing in the United States. Chosen by Congress as the NGB for the sport through the Amateur Sports Act, US SAILING's mission is to encourage participation and promote excellence in sailing and sailboat racing in the United States. A member-based non-profit organization, US SAILING accomplishes its mission through volunteers and member organizations, supported by an administrative staff.

    Do they achieve this?
  12. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    It's, perhaps, a half-full sort of thing, then, DG. If sales in small craft are shutting down to a significant extent, then you'll have to supply the reason why that doesn't correlate with decreased interest/participation.

    Later in the argument, you suggest that the issue rests at the doorstep of the governing body, US Sailing, yet you offer no conclusive evidence that it (the drop in sales for small craft) is, in fact, connected to their efforts at all... just supposition.

    It is true, USS could be very much responsible in a peripheral, or even direct, fashion for a nosedive in small boat sales in the marketplace. There are, however, so many other variables that come into play on the matter that it would take many people, working many hours, just to craft a proper analytical document to that end. Perhaps it's better to simply say that there's a larger move afoot than small data points can explain?

    What is also not too clear, is the types of craft that were included in the survey and from where did the sales figures come in the first place. It seems more than clear that the canoe and kayak industry has been overlooked in this analysis. There are many models of small sailing craft in this arena that have seen significant growth in the last year... the new Hobie Adventure Island, being perhaps, the most significant of those types. Hobie had in excess of 500 pre-orders for the boat before it was introduced. I would suspect that it also does not include sailboards and kiteboards as a part of the numerical analysis.

    What is clear is that something is hitting the market at a place where it is going to spell trouble in the coming years. When you lose the young people end of the buying spectrum, you set yourself up for the spending of huge amounts of cash somewhere down the road in an attempt to lure even some of them back to the fold in a more appropriately sized product.

    Like in any business, it is far cheaper to keep a customer than it is to go out and market to brand new ones after the fact. If the industry is doing this, then they are cutting off their noses in pursuit of short-term gains at the high end of the product spectrum. They will eventually kill-off the customer flow and many of them will witness bankruptcy in an effort to re-establish grass roots activities in the sub-19' category.

    The report says that there were only 420 units imported into the US during the period. Even if all of them were sub-19' models, that would account for less than half of the 8% drop in sales in the category... and we all know that this didn't happen. My guess is that less than 75 imported boats in this size range were brought into the country last year as new product, so the impact is relatively insignificant compared to the total drop.

    For the record, DG, I did not suggest that the sales figures spelled disaster for my business efforts. Here's the quote I offered, "I design small boats for homebuilders and there is apparently only a small incentive from a business perspective to translate any of my designs into semi-production products with current climate issues staring me in the face."

    This isn't a suggestion of disaster at all, merely a recognition that it will require a prudent analysis of my product line potential before engaging the expense to produce a boat at small production volumes. I'm still moving right along with sales of my boat plans and custom builds from my plans for specific clients and I'm having a blast in the process. I'm in no hurry to become a volume boatbuilder... if ever.
  13. DGreenwood
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    DGreenwood Senior Member

    Ok Now I am confused. :confused: I said I don't see any evidence and you want me to provide evidence? I said the drop could be for many reasons and listed a few that I could think of. The drop was being discussed as if lack of interest was the reason. I wanted to know why that was assumed?

    Later on I say that the persistent lack of interest in sailing in the US belongs to USSA not doing its job. I probably should have said that they are at least partially responsible for that lack of interest. I was not saying that they were responsible for the sales drop. And no, I don't have a shred of empirical evidence to back up my accusation. It is just my opinion based on personal observation of the way in which they carry out their business.

    It is true, USS could be very much responsible in a peripheral, or even direct, fashion for a nosedive in small boat sales in the marketplace. There are, however, so many other variables that come into play on the matter that it would take many people, working many hours, just to craft a proper analytical document to that end. Perhaps it's better to simply say that there's a larger move afoot than small data points can explain?

    That, no matter how clumsily I said it, was exactly my point! I am not so sure that, given the lack of clarity in how the those stats were collected, we have any very clear understanding of what that 7% means? My suggestion was that an unfortunate series of shifts in the market might produce something of a false reading.

    I did misunderstand your response to the drop in the market and thought you were saying it was going to damage your immmediate business. I promise to read your statements more carefully if you'll do the same for me.
  14. Raggi_Thor
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    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

    We discussed this in the new multihull forum in our local sailing club two weeks ago :)
    (I must admit I didn't read all posts about foil or not to foil.)
    In our informal club/forum we seemed to agree that kids used to computer games and snowboard need something more exciting than an optimist dingy.
    Some students at the meeting showed pictures and movies of their catamarans...One member is building an F16.. We searched a little on the web..

    I think that the Formula 16, F16, is probably a good class for your club. It can be sailed by one or two, it's quite fast and not too expensive, it can even be home built.,en/

    Any comments on F16 vs other catamaran classes?

  15. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    NO NO NO Foils?

    Didn't read them?? I'm shocked.....
    Raggi, I think a cat may be a great second best solution since there is no Peoples Foiler available this week. But, the fastest small boat under 20' will continue to be the Moth or down the line a well designed Peoples Foiler--its just the way it is..
    PS-if you've looked at some of the discussions on about the F16 you know that rudder t-foils have been experimented with and appear to be fast both upwind and down.....
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