RE: Starboard Appollo/Formula Windsurfing
Hi milk laser,
Thanks for responding to my post above. In addition to your comments above, I had the opportunity to review your parallel posts on a similar thread here. You've brought up a number of thoughtful points about the social side of competition, but I think you have also missed a few that I thought I would comment further on.
First, about folks leaving windsurfing for kiting. Really, I don't think that had anything to do with the "gear wars". I live in an area where there is absolutely no racing, but still the majority of windsurfers all abandoned the sport for kiting. I'm one of a few windsurfers still left. In my area, so many folks painted themselves in the corner focusing on being wave sailors and exhausting all other forms of sailing. By limiting their interest to such a narrow base, there was little opportunity to maximize and realize their interest. When kiting came along, it gave these folks a new outlet where seemingly radical aerials and maneuvers were possible in very light wind. it was fate that kiting would lure and drain participants from windsurfing. In my opinion, the windsurfing industry couldn't have affected the exodus to kiting in any way.
Earlier, I mentioned Formula Experience (FE) racing, but maybe that was missed. It is my understanding that the FE class gives budget minded folks the opportunity to race in a community of like minded folks that don't want to invest in the yearly "gear war" mentality. Of course, the FE class isn't the fastest formula stuff out there, but the social aspect and cost focus are truly in line with your thoughts here. I wonder why folks like yourself aren't finding an attraction and commitment to FE racing? I think I know the answer to that question, because the really competitive heart of the racing scene wants the best technology and any possible edge to dominate and win. So, it's this tug of war between those in your local racing scene. Instead of establishing reasonable equipment ground rules and abiding by them through local group agreement, the problem is conveniently viewed as an outgrowth of the industry's design and development efforts. When the root problem is at home, I wonder why the industry is so often blamed. Maybe it is because the brands are competition with each other to win over the marketplace to their corner. But that is the nature of business overall, so it's kind of fruitless to expect everyone to put the brakes on.
I've noticed that folks look back on the old World Cup circuit and complain that the gear rat race nearly ruined the sport. With the introduction of Formula, that was suppose to change. Putting boards aside for a moment, I look at the cost of huge rigs these days. I think that it fair to say that most committed local racers are going to have 2 to 3 sails, to include the masts to service them. Look at the price of NP X9 masts, at probably $1100 USD a pop, and the durability is so questionable that its hard to have just the minimum number of masts. When one adds up the cost of sails, masts and boom, the price of a board is dwarfed by comparison, especially if one replaces everything on a yearly basis. Personally, I'm amazed with the stratospheric costs.
Windsurfing can be a very expensive sport, and there are so many that can't refuse to throw money at it. It doesn't surprise me that industry leaders are so focused on improving products. Yet, instead of talking about binding up the industry's innovation and development cycle of racing products, you need to work at the grassroots level with your fellow competitors and decide collectively where your limits are. In my opinion, the problem is at home in defining your community. I know that seems harsh, but there is truth in that. You are simply working with human nature and will.