Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Cost of Development

All mothists are privileged to enjoy the thrill and excitement of the modern foiler. Most have no idea of the cost in time and $$$ that a small number of developers have spent to make it all possible. Preeminent among those is John Ilett. As the first to realize the concept of a wand-controlled flap, he has seen his idea blossom with first the ubiquitous Bladerider and now the Mach2, while his Fastacraft Prowlers have been relegated to the small minority of active race boats. Recently John attempted to regain the cutting edge with a new generation of foils that featured a 48” (122 cm) wide mainfoil and a nearly seamless flap mechanism. This was also his first attempt at the two-piece foil, having seen the writing on the wall with the predominance of the BR and M2 bulbed foils. I was the recipient of one of the first of these “gen3” foils, as described in this post, having received it shortly before the Gorge Worlds. The story was not a happy one. On the first outing, the foil collapsed and repeated attempts at repairing it failed. If it wasn’t for Andy Mills loaning me his spare foil, an older one-piece FC daggerboard, I would have spent a couple of weeks at the Gorge watching from the beach.

As it was, I also had problems with a never before tested gantry, so all of the time on the beach (and in the rescue boat) can not be laid at John’s feet. But the one thing that I thought would bring me close to the front of the fleet ended up being a complete failure. John has since attempted to make the gen3 design work, and has temporarily given up with it, and has gone back to his 2nd generation design, albeit with a bulbed attachment. I just got the new “gen2b” mainfoil, at no cost to me other than shipping, as a “warranty replacement.” Such after-the-sale-service is remarkable. I can’t imagine John’s cost of the design and creation of the steel mold that he used for the gen3 foil, that now is but a bucket of $$$ out of the bank account with nothing to show for it except the lessons learned.

Not all development moves forward. Surely the advances are what we all look for, but it takes those with the guts to try something new to make anything happen at all.


Unknown said...

Here here.

John has always presented himself and his business impeccably and I'm sure all he needs is someone at the sharp end pushing his boats hard.

Phil Stevenson said...

Here in NSW the Fastacraft Prowler is still well alive. We had 11 moths at the weekend regatta and 6 were prowlers, aged from one year to 5 years, and all looking imaculate. The remainder were two Bladriders and two home builts. All except the BR used Fastacraft Gen 2 main foils, including all the race winners.

Phil Stevenson said...

My arithetic fails. There were 7 prowlers.