RE: Starboard Appollo/Formula Windsurfing
Hi milk laser,
I think I'll give it one more go here.
In many respects, you are right about "unattached" sailors like me. It is highly unlikely that I would sail formula equipment, but much of that has to do with the locales that I windsurf at. Lots of rocky bottoms with surf, and to make matters more difficult, kelp and weeds are at most spots. If I lived in the SF Bay area, my view and interests would very likely be different. Still, one would have to rationalize the expense and balance it with the fun involved. Currently I'm using a 5 board quiver, and that's more than most are willing to invest in and maintain.
Regarding the FE class, you touched directly on their weakest link. Why would anyone want to buy a funky aluminum boom? Junk in my mind. Actually, if you check past history, I have been very critical of aluminum booms, especially for use in a formal racing class like FE. It's my thought that the restriction was probably an inside deal heavily influenced by aluminum boom manufacturers. If the change to a carbon boom was allowed, FE would be a fantasic way to go for so many folks. Like Remi points out above, an FE kit can be competitive, and I would say much more robust than a FW kit for the right price.
I still think you are missing the mark about the industry's role and responsibilities here. I get this feeling that your view of the industry is along the lines of "you can sell dope in our neighborhood, but not too much at a time". Really, like I pointed out earlier, your community needs to establish reasonable limits that local folks will abide by. Local agreement and control is truly the best formula for a fair playing field. The industry is creating and marketing on an international level, and they are offering a range of products designed to suit a broad variety of potential customers. From a practical standpoint, it doesn't make any sense for the industry to manipulate and control local racing scenes, as that's best accomplished at the grassroots level by the local community.
Your point about racing communities "seeking fair racing on top equipment, not gear wars" is a bit unrealistic. You can't use top equipment, and at the same time limit the release of "new" top equipment. You're in effect saying, I want the best stuff, but you (the industry) can't change or improve anything because we need "suspended animation" of your top of line products. Not too much sense in that from a business standpoint. You can have "suspended animation" at the FE level, but not across the board, especially with the industry's premier products. In other words, you can't have your cake and eat it too.
I think PG made an excellent point above concerning FW being a development class. History has shown that it's absolutely true in the literal sense. With the manufacturing processes and methods being used today, the industry is not encumbered by expensive molding costs as they were so many years ago. Ideas can flow very quickly, and there is little reason to limit development on premier racing products. In my opinion, the only way to artificially suspend this trend would be for the ISAF to refuse to recognize a new production design. I don't think that will happen, but who knows, maybe "racing communities" will have more influence like you say.