As some of you know, the Flying Tiger project has been somewhat star crossed. A really good design from Bob Perry, some early boat quality issues, poor class organization and a principle who simply walked away from it all. Add a weak economy to the mix and it has resulted in a stalled program. However there is new life, and here is an update from the new owner of the Flying Tiger operation.
I’m sitting in the JAL lounge at Tokyo waiting for the flight home to San Diego after a 4 day visit to the builder’s yard in Xiamen, China. It was a very good trip and I come away with many positive thoughts and a whole lot of work to do to get this ship moving again.
This was my second visit to Hansheng. My son Kyle and I first went in March 2006 as FT 10 #1 was just being completed. The yard is alive and well with many projects in the works both for the Chinese market and for export. They are well managed and have retained much of the same experienced work force that I met some 3 years ago. I am pleased to have such a strong partner in this project and we were able to solve all of our outstanding issues. Admittedly it’s a challenging market at the moment for boat sales of any kind but I am confident that things will improve and that our product line is well situated for when the wind does fill in.
We are shipping 2 FT 7.5 models to San Diego before the end of this year. They will available for purchase and placement into the charter fleet at Harbor Sailboats. Charter placement provides the owner an opportunity to the defray costs while sailing as much as he or she likes. There will be a maximum of 5 boats available for purchase under this program that will also form the nucleolus of the San Diego One Design fleet. In other words your boat earns income, we maintain it, you race the full one design schedule, and the fleet is born.
Now about the FT 10 – the reason many of you are reading this: While at the yard we went over many technical items related to the build and fitting out of the 10. I am keenly aware that many current owners are concerned with the need for some aftermarket improvements to the boat. We have looked closely at this situation are committed to continual improvement of the build. There will always be a need to balance performance with costs but never at the expense of seaworthiness. Neither we nor our partners have any interest in building a “cheap” product. Our goal is to provide the highest quality vessel at great value to their owners with no compromises that effect safety. As the fleet evolves and determines what improvements are needed we will listen closely and if possible, incorporate them into the build.
I suggest that all FT 10 owners stay involved with the class association and the decisions regarding technical discussions. Make sure your voice is heard as somewhere between extremes is consensus. And above all get out, sail your boat and have fun. It’s the best way to protect your investment.
The Flying Tiger was born here and has enjoyed much early success. As we regroup our efforts we will continue to sponsor this forum and take the good with the bad. And now I am going to get on an aluminum can, pop a few Tylenol PM and wake up in Los Angeles. Comment here. Photo by Da Woody.