Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)

  • Simon Lovesey
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06 Sep 2007 08:55 #15575 by Simon Lovesey
Replied by Simon Lovesey on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Surely we should be celebrating the launch of the MK3, the Class has done an amazing job to get things this far, we have certainly moved the production boat forward. For the existing and established fleets this was deemed to be essential for the future of the class. The modernised Mirror is attracting interest to the class from those who had previously ignored us.

The fact the first boats don't have rowlocks or outboard motors on their transoms should not be seen as a failure, there is already talk of a cruising version if there is demand.

The reality of things is most new Mirrors built these days end up being raced, this is because Mirrors have evolved into a fine racing machine with close competitive racing. In the heydays when 6,000 Mirrors were built every year, most were purchased because Mirrors were one of the cheapest ways of getting afloat, now 60 boats a year is good going. Sadly Mirrors are no longer the cheap option they were, those who want a small versatile boat are more likely to buy secondhand or one of the new plastic designs like the Walker Bays

As mentioned the MK3 doesn't replace anything, wood and the Mk2 GRP Mirrors are still very much available. Trident are selling a cruising version of their GRP Mirror
http://www.trident-uk.com/Class_Catalog ... cruise.htm

Winder are selling their race version for £4800 (measured), which is cheaper than the equivalent from Trident. A part fitted out hull is £2600

With regards comments about the Association, we are very conscious that we are racing focused and this only represents a part of the Mirror Community. The problem is non racers don't seem to want to get involved in running things, we have asked and the typical response is they would prefer someone else did the hard work !!!. In my time with MCA we have tried to organise cruising camps and rallies, these have all had to be cancelled due to lack of interest.

We are fortunate there is a vibrant racing scene, this is keeping the Class alive, and providing activity for Mirrors. I am convinced that without the enthusiasm of those involved with racing, Mirrors would have faded away many years ago, particularly without the support of the Daily Mirror and a large builder (Bell)

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  • doodiboo
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06 Sep 2007 09:52 #15576 by doodiboo
Replied by doodiboo on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
It's a boat, not a chalice. At the moment it is the boat that gives the most active and well-supported kids' double-handed racing scene in the UK. If the Mk3's lack of rowlocks causes numbers to plummet (can't see it myself), we'll sell our Mirrors and buy other boats. I'm afraid I don't care about "the class", much less its "philosophy", I care whether my kids have fun on a Saturday.

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  • Roger Clark
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06 Sep 2007 10:47 #15577 by Roger Clark
Replied by Roger Clark on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Reading through all of the posts I feel Richard was amiss in not making clear the club adopting the Pixel was in the US. Richard emailed me directly and I have responded to his comments as follows:

<font color=blue>"I am not up to date with all current dinghy designs having returned to sailing this year after a 15 year break. From my quick Google on the Pixel I only turned up a surprisingly small amount of information. Some of this has not been revised in the past 2 years and there was nothing posted about the Pixel being available within the UK. Please remember the original post commenting on the Mk III Mirror was on a UK based Mirror site and no mention was made about the comment coming from the US."

"I do not doubt the Pixel is a fine dinghy to sail as it is from a design some 45 years newer then the Mirror and is being manufactured using modern materials in a cheap labour area. However in the US you do not have the quantity of Mirrors that we have over this side of the Atlantic and the number of clubs already racing them. In the circumstance of a US club choosing between a modern design and a 45 year old one, where neither class had many boats available, then I would have expected the modern one to triumph - especially when it is already being heavily promoted by a US company."

"This does not alter my opinion that the Mirror, in all its forms, is still a very suitable dinghy to learn to sail on. In the UK I doubt if many clubs would consider adopting the Pixel at present considering the Mirror is already a widely recognised and loved training dinghy, backed by an active class association. If there had been large numbers of Mirrors sold in the US and there was an active class association then the Pixel would have faced an uphill struggle to break in to this market."</font id=blue>


Personally I would love to see a marketing effort for the Mirror that a single company with self interest can use to promote boats like the Pixel, but the Mirror Class is not controlled by a builder - the builders are controlled by the class members from around the world. I think that wooden Mirror kits could easily be manufactured in low cost areas and shipped to all markets, the class would certainly expand faster. Again there could be the possibility of a mass produced plastic version being built in bulk. In both cases then our British kit and GRP suppliers would suffer, is that what we want?

The production of the MK III should help the class, not only using a cleaner design, but ultimately also allowing sensible alterations to the wooden versions as well. Both can only help the class in the long term. I make these comments as a Mirror sailor who currently does not race and realises change is necessary to maintain the value of all Mirrors.

Roger
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  • LukeDolman
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06 Sep 2007 17:34 #15579 by LukeDolman
Replied by LukeDolman on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Folks, appreciate the replies but the disconnect seems to get larger the more this debate goes on.

Back to basics: Richard and I are trying to do our bit to establish the Mirror - as we all agree a fantastic boat - as a serious class in the US. However the racing market here is already saturated by - arguably - more familiar and attractive racing boats. Therefore we see the way ahead as being much the same as the tactics used in the UK in the '60s and '70s - offer a very cheap, mass-market boat, that will appeal to everybody. If racing is your bag (and frankly, my kids and I would like to do some Mirror racing if we ever find another Mirror to race against, or a club willing to take a punt on an unknown class) then the more boats that are out there, the more chance you have of getting people competing, <i>especially</i> if it's a true one-design that can race straight out of the box.

Unfortunately that cheap, mass-market Mirror no longer exists, in any form, anywhere in the World. Yes, we do need to applaud the MkIII for taking a fresh look at the concept; however, it doesn't solve our problem. Lets face it, even if we can offer it cheaply enough to the non-racing folks there's nowhere to store your beer and fishing gear when you're taking a break from all that "having a go at racing before I get hooked"... And if there are two versions, cruising and non-cruising then how do I start racing my cruising boat competitively? I'm guessing I'll need to spend a lot more money and I suspect other potential buyers will reach that conclusion too.

As Roger said, we don't want to endanger the current producers but, as he also said, times change. As someone also said earlier, new Mirror sales are around 60 a year. WHAT??? Is that because no-one wants to sail anymore or is that because average families can't afford a new Mirror, even as a kit? If it's the latter, then how long is the second hand market going to keep going if the feed is 60 boats per year? And how long will the RYA rely on that rapidly aging fleet to produce their future sailors? The decline is already in evidence. I was reading on this forum a few weeks ago that a school championship attracted one single Mirror entry. Doesn't that ring anyone's bells somewhat louder than simply getting excited about an expensive racing boat, designed by a minority for a minority?? Your competition <i>will</i> include the Pixel, whether you've heard of it yet or not. It's $6500 folks, pretty much dead level with a Trident Mirror Race and quite a bit cheaper than a Winder - and it only takes someone to change the destination on a shipping form for it to be arriving in Southampton rather than New Jersey at much the same cost. Would you have bet against the Laser? The Laser isn't this good...

OK, fair enough. We can be dismissed quite easily as two crotchety old Luddites across the pond, divorced from the UK racing scene, getting all nostalgic over the smell of wood shavings and varnish and holding our cherished copies of Mirror Mania. But let me bring you back to my opener "Richard and I are trying to do our bit to establish the Mirror... as a serious class in the US". We're seeing an opportunity in a huge market for a cheap basic Mirror, really cheap, the original concept, get folks building them and out on the water in <i>numbers</i> - and it would appear that no-one is particularly interested in listening to us. Wow.

Cheers
Luke




Edited by - lukedolman on 07 September 2007 02:18:53

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07 Sep 2007 06:45 #15581 by Burl Solomons
Luke - the class IS trying to make some changes to the wooden boat to make it easier to produce, and keep it competitive, and from all the discussions I've heard there is a big push to free up the plans. This was all driven by the introduction of the Mk3, as the fibreglass boat really did need modernising FIRST, before all the wooden boat changes could be brought about. A lot of changes were introduced at the AGM in August, with this in mind.

One worry for the class association must be keeping control of the quality of the boats, as a really poorly cut set of wood, resulting in a badly made Mirror, will reflect badly on them. A possible solution might be to sell the plans with a numbered transom panel, so at least some control over numbering is retained - not allowing transom panels to be made from plans!

I really do hope the class can be successfully introduced to the USA - being built from cheaper kits / sets of plans, and that you get your large fleets of boats to cruise with and race against. Just hold on a little - the changes are coming! We hope...

Burl

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  • Simon Lovesey
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07 Sep 2007 07:42 #15582 by Simon Lovesey
Replied by Simon Lovesey on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Luke and Richard

I think we are all behind you in your desires to see another explosion in Mirror sailing. It is great to see the re-emergence of the US Mirror fleet and the excellent work you, Richard and the team are carrying out.

BUT please appreciate this is the forum of the UK Mirror Class Association, many of your comments are out of context of what is happening in the UK and at times unhelpful to what we are trying to achieve here and for other established fleets.

What is clear is the Mirror is such a versatile boat, that it can mean different things to different people (and Nations).

Before we consider the reality of where we could take the Class we need to understand where we have come from and why

<b>History</b>
The UK enjoyed a massive growth in Mirror sailing in 60s and 70s with around 6,000 boats built each year due to a combination of complimentary factors :
<ul><li>The UK had only just emerged from the austerity of the Post War Period just prior to when the Mirror was launched, life was still fairly basic and leisure activities such as sailing inaccessible for the masses </li><li>Jack Holt and his designs like the Enterprise were at the forefront of widening the appeal of sailing, but the cost of these was still too high for most </li><li>At the time of launch the UK was seeing an explosion in leisure activities, so perfect timing </li> <li>The backing and support of the Daily Mirror was critical in raising the profile of sailing and the Mirror Dinghy.</li> <li>The Daily Mirror not only provided publicity, they also put the might of their marketing department behind the Mirror dinghy, there were even dedicated staff just for our favourite boat. Vic Shaw a full time Mirror Group employee whose job was to manage the Mirror Dinghy project, he was the first Class Secretary</li> <li> The Mirrors were produced by Bell Woodworking, by all accounts a large manufacturing concern of its day, giving us the volumes and economies of scale to drive prices down.</li> <li>For many years the UK MCA had a full time and salaried administration team to run the affairs of the class.</li> </ul>

The legacy of the above has provided us here in the UK a massive installed base of Mirrors, many thousands of which are still actively sailed.

BUT these days the UK MCA is faced with a completely different set of circumstances :

<b>Present</b> <ul><li>Massive proliferation of different dinghy classes (100+) and virtual collapse of one design racing at many clubs. In the UK in recent years we have seen a large number of new classes arrive on the scene and in the main fade after a few years. This has diluted the UK Dinghy Scene and stopped growth </li><li> There are so many other competing activities for people's leisure time </li> <li> We no longer have the marketing support and effort the Daily Mirror provided </li> <li> We no longer have the single volume builder </li> <li> The class is run by its members and not by paid staff </li> </ul>

The class has gone through massive changes in the last 20 years, we have seen the demise of Bell, the Daily Mirror no longer support us and we don't have paid staff running the MCA.

Despite all this the class is flourishing and in the main numbers growing, it was not long ago that National attendance had fallen into the 30s. 50-60 new boats built each year is actually quite healthy in the current climate and the envy of many other classes. Remember that most of these Mirrors were purchased by private individuals, classes such as the Laser with higher sales see many of their new boats go to institutes such as holiday companies.

The modernisation process we have been under going is already helping to generate new interest in the class, initiatives like the Armada Project is boosting grass roots Mirror activity. In the UK we now have three active builders. These activities are all helping to keep the UK fleet buoyant, it is essential we keep existing fleets active.

The future of the Mirror Class is now very much in the hands of its members. YES, we all want cheap Mirrors and in the volumes we have seen before, BUT no one yet has come up with a business plan of how the Class could achieve this.

SO the challenge to our US Mirror friends is to come up with a viable plan to bring on new Nations with cheap Mirrors, from the World's Industrial Powerhouse this should be an easy task.



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  • Roger Clark
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07 Sep 2007 08:48 #15583 by Roger Clark
Replied by Roger Clark on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Surely someone must see this is a business opportunity to market a well-established all-round dinghy class with a proven wooden building method. All it would take is someone with the manufacturing sourcing knowledge of Ikea to obtain the wooden kit or bits of kits at the very lowest price. Masts and sails can be obtained from alternative low cost sources. Manufacturing in batches is the best way to keep production costs low (I would like to bet at present kits are assembled one at a time, hence they are expensive). These kits are then sold to licensed distributors around the world in batches that fill a container. Having stock readily available is a fine motivator for any distributor. You might even find kits could be readily available on ebay, just imagine the extra sales. All it takes is a little vision and a pile of start up cash, and then it should work extremely well.

Roger
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07 Sep 2007 14:15 #15584 by Trevor Lloyd
Luke. Your comment 'and it would appear that no-one is particularly interested in listening to us. Wow.' couldn't further from the truth.

Personally, I am actively trying to get \ keep the wooden boat at the fore. Trying to drive through building from plans, access to quality cheap cnc produced kits, freeing up what you can do to the cockpit........It's not just about racing, it's about legalising what a lot of people have been doing for years, it's about allowing people some freedom to fit them out as they see fit within reason, it's about not controlling everything where it doesn't matter. If you want rowlocks, two mast steps and put a 125hp Suzuki on the back fine. Where the control is required is in those area's that affect directly the performance of the boat for racing, not how it's operated. The mirror by it's very versatility appeals to two very different groups, the racers and the cruisers.

As to numbers, it is true that the hey day of hundreds being build is past in the UK, but the potential world wide is huge. 60 boats a year for most classes is very healthy, it could be better. The big advantage of the MK3 is that it's produced from fewer components and therefore could be built more cheaply. I agree that the lack of stowage over the MK2 is potentially a retrograde step, however they can be retrofitted, legally.

I personally commissioned the 'classic' trophy to encourage the gaff rigged and therefore more traditional mirrors to come out racing. A lot of people are put off by the modern boats with Bermudan rigs, lots of string etc.

OK, I admit I can only remember a handful of times where I have gone sailing for the pleasure of it, that doesn't mean I decry the cruisers.

I agree with the comments Paul H has made about the lack of transom holes, in fact I would like to see transom tubes to get rid of the significant quantity of water that can accumulate in the cockpit during a capsize.

Debate is healthy

Cheers

Trevor

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  • LukeDolman
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07 Sep 2007 16:02 #15588 by LukeDolman
Replied by LukeDolman on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Hello all - many thanks for the replies.

With regard to the history of the Mirror and socio-economic factors affecting sailing in the UK I think we're all on the same page. My points earlier were based on the fact that those factors appear to be different in the US and we think the original Mirror concept would find a more ready market here than the current, narrower UK racing/training Mirror vision.

With regard to the forum we should use, if the IMCA has its own, where this topic would be better addressed, please let us know (although I think this has now been discussed enough). We certainly don't want to be considered unhelpful to the overall effort and apologise if we have been.

With regard to "the challenge" put to us by Simon, we'll do our best. However, I'm not sure that either of us have the clout or the experience that the International Mirror Class Association could bring to this.

Lastly, yes, we're both based in "The World's Industrial Powerhouse" but that's becoming very much a legacy title in the same way that Britain is the Birthplace of Industry. Sadly, affordable goods sold in the US now mainly come from the Far East and South-America.

Cheers
Luke

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  • LukeDolman
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07 Sep 2007 16:10 #15589 by LukeDolman
Replied by LukeDolman on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Trevor, many thanks for your last response. Sorry, I posted mine before I saw yours. Your support and efforts are much appreciated!

You are right, debate is healthy. <img src=icon_smile_wink.gif border=0 align=middle>

Kindest regards
Luke

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  • Simon Lovesey
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07 Sep 2007 17:01 #15590 by Simon Lovesey
Replied by Simon Lovesey on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
<BLOCKQUOTE id=quote><font size=1 face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id=quote>quote:<hr height=1 noshade id=quote>
With regard to "the challenge" put to us by Simon, we'll do our best. However, I'm not sure that either of us have the clout or the experience that the International Mirror Class Association could bring to this. <hr height=1 noshade id=quote></BLOCKQUOTE id=quote></font id=quote><font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size=2 id=quote>

IMCA current role is mainly of coordination between the National Class Associations (NCAs), rules administration and liaison with ISAF.

It is run by representatives from the NCAs on a voluntary basis, its activities are in general reactionary to the NCAs, although at the last couple of meetings we have all agreed we need to take more of a pro-active role in the development of new nations. Currently IMCA only source of income is a small per boat fee from each NCA, so there are limited funds.

So although IMCA can offer clout, it needs people's help and money to nurture new nations and opportunities. The IMCA currently is a non commercial organisation

As Roger rightly points out, there is a business opportunity here and like most business opportunities they require investment to get them off the ground.

People like Trello and others are investigating various build options, that is probably the easy part. It is the business aspects such as distribution, marketing and finance that require a considerable effort and input.

I do believe a cheap (< £300) CNC produced Mirror kit and a support package from IMCA (training and racing) would have a dramatic impact in emerging countries, along the lines of what the Optimists have done.

MCA Secretary

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  • D.Hughes
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17 Sep 2007 22:20 #15649 by D.Hughes
Replied by D.Hughes on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Luke
I have just listed an original set of Bell building instructions on Ebay.co.uk that come with a free set of templates to build or repair your own Mirror. I will post worldwide if you wanted them or if you have some DIY builders over there that fancy having a go at making a low cost new wooden Hull.

Regards
David

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  • LukeDolman
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18 Sep 2007 17:39 #15653 by LukeDolman
Replied by LukeDolman on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Hi David and thanks for letting me know about the instructions and templates. I've put in a bid - looks like I have a while to wait! LOL...

This would be an interesting project if it worked out. I have a full set of spars, rigging and sails from a previous Mirror that rotted out - perfect start to a project like this.

Cheers
Luke

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18 Sep 2007 21:21 #15654 by Trevor Lloyd
Chaps

Without wishing to be a killjoy, please remember that currently you have to buy official panels and parts for them to be legal. So, boats built from anything other than official kits and parts are still currently illegal.

In the fullness of time it may be a legal route and personally I hope so, but for now! The only people with official and therefore legal templates are the kit manufacturers.

I have a set of the instructions myself, they make interesting reading.

Enjoy

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  • D.Hughes
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19 Sep 2007 00:23 #15656 by D.Hughes
Replied by D.Hughes on topic Mirrors - What We Really Want? (topic renamed)
Example

At HLSC we have an old 53,000 number club Mirror. I purchased this boat a number of years ago for £60 and brought it up to full race spec, supported by the club with new Trident sails/spinny and cover.
After 3 winters of living outside the frost had taken it's toll on the decking and the boat was also rotting from the inside. As the boat was used most weekends and for some reason was quite fast, I decided it was worth saving. After taking off the decking and re-bilge painting the interior, it now required new decks and a rear inner bulkhead. As I had enough of the correct grade ply in my shed, out came the jig saw and I made new panels.
Now..... Under the rules when the boat was made "replacement panels were to be made from such material as supplied with the original kit". This was the case.
So as far as I know it's still within class. Is anyone realy suggesting I should have sent off for factory parts when I had the materials to hand?
The boat has been used and will be used for local events with no problems.
I do accept that if it were to be entered into a National Mirror Class event, it would only be able to score in the Bronze fleet, if it were known that the repairs were as stated above.
Otherwise common sense is the order of the day.

DH

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