If you guys think there is a monopoly why don't you build a factory, offer the credibility and offer lower prices, I am sure no one will complain...
You can do that in Thailand, not Europe, if you prefer.
Although there are a couple more factories already (Vietnam etc) for some reason they haven't managed to persuade the big brands to move there.
When Mistral changed owner and the production was moved to Vietnam a lot of people were concerned about the quality. It could be better of course but it could also be worse. These people said, ok, I will consider buying a Mistral after the first year. Let's see how they end up first...
Furthermore, regarding the companies calling themselves manufacturers.
They are actually producers. The fact that they don't own the factory doesn't mean they don't own the shapes, material choice (which takes a lot of engineering) R&D etc. but most important they finance their project.
Take away all the above ingredients and all you've got is the capability of building something... more like a great builder who doesn't have a plot or a plan.
If I am not mistaken Cobra set up this factory (a few years ago) in order to manufacture their own boards but they were lacking some of the above ingredients so they decided to offer their facility to more than one brand instead. Surely a clever move.
Instead of every brand investing in their own hi tech factory in order to produce their 10 000 (max 15 000) boards per year, they use the same factory. I believe prices would have been more expensive had it been otherwise. Not to mention what it would do to the smaller brands with a production of 2500 bards per year (like F2...)
A specific brand increased their prices to distributors by 8,4% last year (for 2010 models) and another 6,5% this year (2011 models). Even if you take this number raw and add the taxes you end up with an interesting increase on the product at the shop.
Our lives are expensive and windsurfing has never been a cheap sport.
For the record Fanatic Hawk has been produced (and still is) in both constructions and Fanatic Ray will too (for 2011).
I will agree 100% about us consumers being spoilt as we all want the pro model for our average abilities and we are willing to pay the extra 150 euros for it. We all say "only 150 euros difference, get me the pro model"
Also, although distributors pay the same, there are big differences between the countries, where retail prices are concerned, as it is natural that different standard of living can afford different prices. So, in the UK for example a board can be somewhere in the area of 1800 euros while in another country the same board can be around 1500 euros.
Lastly, unfortunately, we can't compare windsurfing boards to bicycles just because there is a huge difference in volume between the 2 sports.