Balancing restrictions to promote growth

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Once upon a time, a one-design class was launched with a piece of paper that carried on it the dimensions from which the boat would be built. If popular, class interest would foster multiple suppliers to provide the best options for the race course.

But modern times now see manufacturers themselves introduce new boat types they hope will launch the next greatest one design class organization. They do so while controlling the equipment needed to compete, thus allowing for their investment to be rewarded.

However, the lack of wide-spread industry support may hasten growth, which is a debate that RS Sailing has been wrestling with for their recently launched RS21 boat.

The concept for the RS21 began with the key focus to keep it affordable and open to a broad range of customers using the one-design ethos. As sails can be an expensive part of any boat ownership, and in the interest of keeping costs down, RS Sailing has ordinarily provided all sails for their small dinghy boats.

Historically, the open sailmaker format often leads to large increases in the cost of purchasing sails, but RS Sailing also recognizes their entrance into the keelboat market may need a new approach. The result is now the introduction of an open sailmaker restricted sail design (RSD) format for the RS21 class racing.

Alex Newton-Southon, RS Sailing CEO – Design & Technologies explains: “We understand that sailmakers are extremely influential and an important part of the community. From the independents to the big brands, we want to engage and welcome their involvement with the RS21 class.”

However, to keep ownership of the RS21 affordable and to preserve the RS Sailing one-design ethos, they have devised a unique approach for sailmakers that wish to get involved in the RS21 Class.

RS Sailing has worked with Dimension-Polyant to develop a unique sail material for strength and reliability. Further, the class will:

• Provide the RS21 class sail material at a fixed price.
• Set a maximum retail price (ex-tax) to the end user defined in the RS21 Class Rules.
• Limit the number of sails a customer can annually purchase.

The RS21 Class Rules have yet to be finalized but expect to be released shortly.

Source: sailingscuttlebutt

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