Survey on changes to the Solo topic

Ian McDonald posted this 30 August 2019

Changes to the boat were considered fairly recently. All of these changes were rejected.

During the period of review, I understand that sales of new boats slowed hugely. Why is the potential damage to our suppliers being incurred again?

I was seriously considering buying a new boat ( before my knees give out!). This idea is on hold and I suspect I will not be alone.

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Simon White posted this 30 August 2019

I have been considering the the class but if there are significant changes on the way, then it does make me think again. Just a comment on carbon masts - I have had many boats with both and there are pro's and cons. My last three boats have had carbon rigs and they have advantages in weight aloft, rigging etc. Unless tried side by side with same sail on same boat I can't tell you if they were markedly better or not than Alloy in respect of sailing. I know the Blaze mast makes the boat easier to sail but is no quicker. With one exception ( The Aero which effectively uses windsurfer mast carbon ) all of these masts have lost a good percentage of their top coating within 18 months of being sat rigged at the club. I would say that you have about two to two and a half years before they need recoating. I was actually attracted to the solo for its longevity and build quality and saw alloy as a positive!

Last Edited 15 September 2019

Barrie Woodhall posted this 30 August 2019

I agree with Ian's comments - this seems to be a typical politicians ploy, if you keep on asking the same question you eventually get the answer you want! Why is the committee asking the same question again so quickly? There is a distinct possibility that members will go elsewhere if there is a sense that the committee will eventually push these changes through. I have owned an aero and a solo at the same time - I sold the aero and kept the solo, I hope I didn't make the wrong decision!

Doug Latta posted this 02 September 2019

Hi All

Please do not worry, there is no desire by the committee to change the boat for changes sake - what has happened is that various suggestions have been made, and the committee feel it is our responsibility to check with the members what (if anything) they would like us to consider. When the survey was done on possible changes to the centreboard case and transom a few years ago (and before my time), the survey at that time was positive for the changes, but in the end the matter was not taken forward to a vote - so it's definitely not a case of asking the same question til we get the answer, it is a case of ensuring we take the opinions of ALL members into account and act according to their (majority) wishes. The survey is NOT a vote, it is simply to guide the committee. Only a vote at the AGM would allow any changes, and for this we need also to allow proxy / postal voting so that would have to be voted agreed before anything in any case.

The carbon mast issue was what started the discussion, and as you can see from the info provided, the committee rejected this at this time, but were keen to act and respond given that a video had appeared about it in the public domain. Various other modifications were raised in the ensuing discussions, and hence the reason for the survey.

All this said, no class should rest on it's laurels, we are one of the most successful in the UK, and have every intention of retaining that position!

Hope that makes sense, I would urge everyone to carry on with their planned purchases and continue to support the class, but please do note your opinions when you respond to your survey.

On behalf of your hard working committee,

Doug Latta, President NSCA

Robert Hawkins posted this 02 September 2019

Well, I for one, would like to see a contribution from one of those who are putting forward suggestions to the Committee so balance can be obtained before I fill in the survey. On the face of it, not much is wrong with the boat. At Hickling Broad the Solo goes from strength to strength. Almost all members have upgraded their boats in recent years and new sailors have been tempted to the Class from other boats. It is the biggest fleet in the Club. A few newer designs are sailed, but quite a few are sold quite quickly. I agree the Solo needs to be kept current, but it isnt a Development Class. We dont want to create a lot of existing Solos that are either actually or perceived to be uncompetitive, or even out of class in terms of weight. As I say, lets hear from someone who does want to promote change. Then at least there will be some balance.

Robert Hawkins S5472

Ian McDonald posted this 02 September 2019

Firstly well done to our hard working commitee, giving up their time to work for our boat.

There are of course loads of changes that could be made to make the Solo faster and more comfortable to sail. But as we all know, that's not the point our National champ is the one that sails the current boat the fastest ( in the right direction).

If the new rules go through, the value of the " old rules" boats will drop. They will have to encourage a buyer away from the swish " new rules boat. I am relaxed about this as the news hit before I made my purchase and I can sit back and enjoy my old Miles until things are agreed.

Perhaps the possible rule changes are positive to us lake sailing, non circuit sailors? May be chance to buy a very competent and credible "old rules" boat at a very good price in Sept next year?

Malcolm Cross posted this 03 September 2019

Well, I for one, would like to see a contribution from one of those who are putting forward suggestions to the Committee so balance can be obtained before I fill in the survey. On the face of it, not much is wrong with the boat. At Hickling Broad the Solo goes from strength to strength. Almost all members have upgraded their boats in recent years and new sailors have been tempted to the Class from other boats. It is the biggest fleet in the Club. A few newer designs are sailed, but quite a few are sold quite quickly. I agree the Solo needs to be kept current, but it isnt a Development Class. We dont want to create a lot of existing Solos that are either actually or perceived to be uncompetitive, or even out of class in terms of weight. As I say, lets hear from someone who does want to promote change. Then at least there will be some balance.

Robert Hawkins S5472

mark batt posted this 04 September 2019

I have filled in the survey online and cant wait to see the results, the Solo has a huge following at all sailing clubs inland and costal. I agree we have to keep the boat up to date but the changes list are huge and i don't just mean the expense. Do we risk upsetting the owners of older boats we don't want a different handicap ie classic solo's being on a different PY or do we?

Malcolm Cross posted this 05 September 2019

The class has already changed so much ,what with different build materials ,masts ,some with cut outs some without,sails from different materials etc . There are in fact many combinations of Solo's that enter competitions but do we give them different handicaps ,well no, not across the board we do not. So why are so many against new changes .

Ian McDonald posted this 06 September 2019

The class has already changed so much ,what with different build materials ,masts ,some with cut outs some without,sails from different materials etc . There are in fact many combinations of Solo's that enter competitions but do we give them different handicaps ,well no, not across the board we do not. So why are so many against new changes .

Malcolm, the changes to the mast in alloy was one that was applied to 99.9% classes and was clearly correct. The change to double floor around 4100 was to strengthen the boat and avoid more failures . The move to frp is less clear but the problems in finding decent ply and skilled carpenters who needed to pay the mortgage by making up market kitchens etc.was a strong argument- and the difference in speed inland justifies the move.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding , but surely we are considering major changes at a level where someone seeing the new Solo in a dinghy park ( without sail up), may ask which class they are looking at.

As the owner of an old wooden boat I am more relaxed than many but the owner who bought their new " state of the art" boat in the last year or two may have a different view.

Ian McDonald posted this 09 September 2019

And well done the Association for fixing a prompt cutoff for replies .

Simon White posted this 19 September 2019

The survey has produced a lot of positives for all issues bar the mast. I test sailed the class boat a couple of weeks ago and was placing an order this week, but with a new fully fitted solo now being pretty much £10k with trailers, I just cant justify that investment until the proposed changes are fleshed out.

The one change that needs really careful consideration is weight reduction as this can change the wetted surface area and stability to a surprising degree.

If changes are to be driven through I would hope that these changes are dealt with rapidly or new boat sales will be challenging.

David Greening posted this 19 September 2019

Great that the survey has had such I high response so soon.

And good imo that Carbon spars have effectively been kicked into touch, which reduces the number of changes on the slate to 5.

I am intrigued whether the increase in maximum corrector weight to 7kg is before or after the 3kg reduction, which appears to have plenty of support; I just hope that the long term aim is not to reduce the weight by 10kg, since the changes to the class would be profound. Anyway these can be reasonably easily effected at the 2020 AGM or even at the 2010 Winters ... and for FRP Owners and new builds will be easy to effect.

Which leaves us with buoyancy, centerboard capping and transom.

It looks like all three will fall into the "It is unlikely any proposal will be ready to vote on in 2020" bracket ... which will be extremely damaging for new and secondhand boat sales until this is decided.

So please, please, please committee look at bringing proposals for the class to vote on no later than the 2020 AGM, if not before.

Ian McDonald posted this 19 September 2019

My Miles although down to weight and consistently beating new boats, has no correctors. I think that a lot of older boats are in a similar position.

Is the commitee position that owners of old boats dont matter? Whilst it would be easy to just not join next year and spend my £25 saved on a night in the pub, I think my affinity with the boat is worth more than that.

Is the commitee position that the new frp boats are the only topic worth discussing. I sailed Solo #2 for a few months whilst my first Severn was being built . I then sailed the latest boat when my new one was launched . It would be a shame to lose that inclusion from the class.

Looks like a bumpy time ahead for the class.

Simon Munro posted this 19 September 2019

Ironically, during a week that David Cameron is making the rounds explaining the reasons for a highly divisive, and as yet unresolved, democratic process, the Solo class association believes that they have received a democratic mandate to change the Solo class into something that we probably didn’t vote for.

It may be worthwhile to consider that the mandate and 'will of the people' is not necessarily in the best interests of the class. 241 individuals liking the idea of getting rid of the coffee table is agreement that two hundred-odd people don't like the coffee table, not a mandate to disrupt the class to such a degree that builders go out of business (or don't create moulds for the Brexit Solo). Nor is it a mandate that the second most popular handicap class after the Laser should lose all the mid and tail fleet club sailors that make up those numbers. It's not a mandate to instantly devalue every single Solo out there.

Of course, the changes are good ideas and, technically at least, make the Solo marginally better. But, reducing the weight by 3kg is absolutely not going to make the Solo cooler than an Aero. The problem with getting sailors into a Solo is a marketing problem, and it is against RS-level marketing budgets. You don't attract new sailors by removing the market for second-hand boats. You don't keep existing sailors by making their current boat suddenly worthless. You don't grow the class by drying up orders for Solos for years, so that builders don't have the budget to market.

Watch what is currently happening in the Laser class for insight into how bad things can go for a class when it gets ‘bumpy’. Ask any Laser sailor about specific technical changes, and you would get a ‘mandate’ to make the change. However, Laser sailors love the idea that you can pull a Laser out the weeds anywhere in the world and not be at a significant disadvantage. The refusal of the Laser class association to make changes, despite having problems that all Laser sailors agree on, is one of the reasons for the success of the class. The Solo formula is similar to the Laser – the success of the Solo goes beyond the boat, and tweaking the formula is risky.

I implore the committee to acknowledge the survey findings on individual preference for specific technical changes and, having considered the overall sustainability of the class, commit to no changes whatsoever for at least five years (preferably ten). Please, let's not build the Brexit Solo.

Ian McDonald posted this 19 September 2019

Well said Simon!

My Solo is my backup boat, and being told that the class is moving on and that my down to weight,no corrector boat is being cast aside is not the most important thing for me. But I suspect there are lots of people who would treat this more seriously.

The commitee are working hard for the class, thank you and well done. But please dont dismiss us sailors not on the circuit. And how about the very experienced and capable Solo sailors who were not involved in the questionnaire review?

Stephen Holcroft posted this 20 September 2019

How’s the average grass roots club sailor going to feel when someone rocks up to the club in his new v2 or v3 solo? His new design Solo is 3kg lighter, it's easier to recover from a capsize due to the buoyancy changes, it's more comfortable to sail because its centreboard capping is different, its transom is a better design and the rudder different. When I bought my second hand Solo and joined the class a year or so ago I loved the fact that my boat was the same design as everyone else’s, when it's lined up on the slipway its looks no different, it has its flaws, we come back from sailing with new bruises on the shins, stories of what a PITA it was to right after capsizing etc. but to me that's all part of the attraction, the knowledge that we are all in the SAME BOAT together.

These proposed changes are going to result in different design versions v2, v3 etc. I can't see how that's good for anyone. I can't see many people wanting to buy a new Solo now knowing a new design is around the corner in a year or so and then more potential design changes after that. I'd feel pretty annoyed if I'd just bought a new Solo knowing its resale value will decrease a lot because it won't be one of the new design Solo's and I'd feel pretty annoyed if I had a down to weight competitive Solo with no correctors on it knowing the new design boats are going to be 3kg lighter.

Isn’t this class is about appreciating the fact that this boats design has been around for 60 years and it’s a winning formula still today, why change it?

David Greening posted this 20 September 2019

I am still unclear how these proposals have come about; as I understood the only modification under discussion back in the summer was about carbon spars, something that was proposed by the Dutch association.

This has morphed into wholesale change, that is going to kill off new building and second hand values ... things that the NSCA is meant to sustain.

All of these points were debated three years ago and firmly kicked into touch, so why have these proposals been resurected?

Our builders must be tearing what little hair they have out in despair, given these uncertain times.

I would have prefered to make these points where those outside cannot look in and wonder why we want to shoot ourselves in the foot, but there is no such platform.

Jeremy Shinton posted this 20 September 2019

Collective investment and diminishing values.

Over the years I have owned 7 Solos and sailed many more classes, I have seen the progression from my wooden Miles and Goslings beauties to the Winders and Ovingtons etc. I recently invested in a Winder 2 and over the past few months have found it to be an excellent bit of kit. The Solo has always been a one design with flexibility to carry a wide range of sailor weights. I’m competing with much lighter sailors and have had some great club racing.

To my surprise I got the request from the NSCA to fill in a survey regarding the changes!! I voted no to all of the changes; I didn’t see the point. The whole point is that, as previously said here “We are all in the SAME BOAT”

It got me thinking about the actual collective damage these changes could do to the fleet, based on some finger in the air estimates I came up with the following… If we take the boat numbers from when the first FRP Winder was produced to today, the range in boat numbers is approximately 4300 to 5800 that’s 1500 boats. Let’s say that’s the racing fleet in clubs and events across the country. I’m not saying lower numbers don’t race and enjoy their boats I’m just using this for an illustration below.

Let’s consider some VERY rough calculations and say if the average value of the boats in that range is somewhere between £3000 and £4000, its likely to be higher, that multiplies up to £4,500,000 to £6,000,000. Its probably closer to £7 Million

We don’t know what the devaluation will be, I’ll let you do the maths if its 10, 20 or 50% of our collective investment.

Some big losses in the value of investment that Solo sailors have made, be careful what you wish for!

If it aint broke don’t fix it

Last Edited 20 September 2019

Ian McDonald posted this 20 September 2019

Jeremy! I cant believe that my current ( beautiful) Miles was made within a year of your first Solo, all those years ago when we both had working knees.

After 60 years I cant believe that the class is just going to abandon the older wooden boats. I hope my belief is justified. But come to Blithfield on Oct 6 for what I hope can be the return of Blithfield Solos ( including those horrible slow and heavy wooden jobs)

Nicholas Marden posted this 22 September 2019

I'm not sure if a boat has ever been built/tested with the proposed buoyancy changes but I doubt it will bring any competitive advantage. When righted after capsize there will be a lot more water in it so it will be slower for longer when it gets going again.

The only benefit is that less fit sailors who don't expect to be at the front of the fleet anyway may have more confidence in going out in a bit of wind and therefore may opt to buy a boat with this modification. But it follows that the second hand market for them will be limited.

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