Micro Magic

Timo brought along his latest toy, a Micro Magic, to our annual radiosailing winter meeting. This thing really is small compared to a Marblehead or an IOM! It's an all 'plastic-fantastic' ABS moulded boat, but you do have to glue the deck to the hull in this Racing version of the kit. The vitals are LOA=554 mm, Beam=178 mm, Weight=980 g, Height=980 mm.

The fin and rudder are made of ABS plastic, and the bulb is lead. There are different sized bits that can be inserted fore and aft of the fin in the finbox to adjust the position of the fin for different conditions.

An arm-winch controls both sails, the mainsheet on the left side of the boat and the jibsheet on the right. Timo is using a micro-servo for the rudder, but I understand standard sized ones are used too.

There's one central hatch with a rubber seal, but I doubt it's watertight enough to be used without tape on top.

The standard carbon mast is 5 mm in diameter, and comes with two sidestays, but Timo has made some more rigs using 6/4 mm carbon tube and intends to use these rigs without sidestays. A bit surprisingly rule-writers around the world have usually not put an upper limit to the number of rigs, so I understand some skippers have made up to 5 or 6 different rigs! (the smaller ones all fit within the biggest one)

In terms of number of boats/skippers the Micro Magic is a definite success with ca 1000 or more boats registered in both Germany and the Netherlands. It makes you think that the traditional international radio sailing classes (IOM, M, 10R, A) have somehow failed since they have not as far as I know attained similar popularity. Marketing wisdom tells us that this must be because of the five Ps: Product, Place, Price, Packaging, Promotion. (I'm leaving 'Product' last in my ramblings below, since I have the most doubts about this P)

Price: the Micro Magic wins hands down over an IOM or any other international radio sailing class. The whole MicroMagic kit with the tall rig, a basic two channel radio, and everything you need to go sailing costs about the same (300 EUR) as three suits of sails for an IOM. By comparison, I estimate a competitive IOM with three rigs and radio from a commercial builder costs about 2000 EUR. Home building a boat to the same standard and performance is not much cheaper.

So does price really matter? Die-hard radio sailors usually say no: travelling to events, staying in hotels, spending all that leisure time racing etc. constitutes a much bigger investment than the price of the boat. For someone who travels internationally every year and to all big events nationally it probably doesn't matter if the boat costs 500 eur, 1000 eur or 2000 eur. But for the beginner it does matter! I see very few newcomers to competitive IOM racing in Finland - maybe that's because of the high price tag? To really get into the class you need a competitive, watertight, and fully functional secondhand, or almost completely built new boat, and that's going to cost you about 2000 eur...

Place: go to the local hobby store, hand them your credit card, and within 1-2 days you will be on the water sailing this boat. Depending on your country, getting an IOM is either a lot harder or just a bit harder. There are no industrial builders (The Robbe Windstar is not really a competitive IOM), so you can't buy an IOM from a hobby store, and the salesperson in the shop is not likely to even know there exists such a thing as an IOM class. All manufacturers are small, most amateur hobbyists and a handful of professionals, and usually sell boats in kit-form to keep down the cost. In countries where there are no commercial builders the situation is even worse. The seasoned radio-sailors do know the international suppliers, some personally, but a newcomer is quite unlikely to send a big amount of money to an unknown builder in a foreign country (and wait the usual 4-12 weeks delivery time).

Packaging/Promotion: Probably about equal between an IOM and a MicroMagic. Promotion will largely depend on what class your local club sails I guess.

Product: Here's where my doubts are. When moving from a Marblehead (4-5 kg weight, 1.3 m length) down to an IOM, the boat felt very nervous, unstable, and hard to sail in the beginning. An IOM is also definitely harder to trim for neutral balance. This was a move down in length from 1.3 m to 1 m, and in weight from about 4.5-5 kg to 4 kg. I haven't sailed a MicroMagic yet, but we must be talking about a completely different behaviour at 55 cm overall length and < 1 kg displacement.

On the other hand, do skippers want a boat that sails and handles gracefully, like a full-scale boat, or are most skippers just looking for a level playing field where they can have fun racing the boats? If the latter is most important, then there must be a bright future for boats like the MicroMagic. In reality very few people have time to design and build their own boat, so I don't think this argument against industrially produced boats really holds.

All of this seems to indicate smaller and industrially produced is better. But there must also be some kind of scale effect: If I show my IOM to someone on the street I'm sure most people would recognize it as more than a toy, capable of racing in widely varying conditions etc. Show the same people a MicroMagic and they will definitely think 'toy'.

This is an interesting topic, so I'd love to hear some thougs from my readers:

  1. I clearly haven't done my homework well enough, so could someone fill me in on the numbers of boats in the big countries for the various 'industrially' made classes: MicroMagic, RC-Laser, Victoria, etc.
  2. How does the MicroMagic sail in different conditions? preferably from people who have a solid background in Marblehead or IOM racing! How does it compare to an RC-Laser?
  3. If you have some deep thoughts on how to make a radio sailing class really succeed I'm also interested.

11 thoughts on “Micro Magic”

  1. In the netherlands there are in 3 years over 1955 Micro Magics, we have a wintercompetition from novembre till april, you can sail every sunday a race here. the best 40 sailers from ranking sail the Dutch Championship in april.
    There is no competition in the summer, that s big boat time.
    Most of us use A B and C rigg, A goes till +/- 12 kn, B from +/-9-18 kn, C +/-15-22 kn.
    The first Europoan Championship is organised yet:
    The Dutch Micro Magic Class Association in cooperation with the Roei- en Zeilvereniging Gouda is planning to hold the FIRST EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE MICRO MAGIC 3-4 NOVEMBER 2007
    mailto:info@micromagic.nl http://micromagic.nl/

    And my own site (under construction, starting up building IOM also) http://www.ts2-iom.eu/ and excuse my bad English

  2. Hi Anders,
    I often keep an eye on your great site - I would still like to finish my own 5 year old planked Kite-IOM-project some day...but for now I sail Seawind.
    In Denmark the Kyosho Seawind class has developed at good pace, reaching almost 120 registered boats in close proximity to Copenhagen.
    Most recent race counted more than 30 participants. The Seawind gains not much respect from IOM sailors in Denmark 🙂 - I also have to admit that its bad seaworthyness in strong winds are a bit anoying if your are serious about racing. But we get along and the competitiveness is taken very seriously within the class that hosts a large number of experienced sailors (from Matchracing, FARR40, Dragonclass, X-yachts e.t.c.).

    - Most important drivers: Easy to assemble, reasonable price AND the boats are the SAME! = sailing skills more important than design skills.
    Its about 500EUR with radio and can be assembled almost overnight.
    Really great and "realistic" racing and in medium and light winds! - The class could seriously benefit from a second smaller rigging though. Sometimes even faster than IOM when going downwind :-).

    Our website is here: http://www.clubseawind.dk/ (sorry it is only Danish)
    Some pictures and results of the main events:

    More about seawind (in U.S):

    BR Nikolaj

    PS I also own a old Victor-model: http://www.victor-model.com
    with my own CF-fin mods - almost as fast as a decent IOM, but a LOT cheaper.

  3. Nice to see that the MM is also noticed in Finland!

    I used to sail the now soft winters in the netherland training in my 1:1 sailing boat. When i stoped whit international sailing i was sitting at home in the weekend doing nothing. So i picked up an old hobbie field hockey and discoverd R/C sailing. The only a bit serious R/C class in the netherlands is the MM. And since i'm a student the price was real nice al ready having the radio gear I was sailing for 120 euro (MM mk1 kit + glue) But to be compeditieve you have to tune up your standaard MM. This is making every thing easy to adjust and beter sails. Now with the new RMM (racing MM) you can buy and sail an MM which is compeditif out of the box. I recon that if you are used to bigger boats the MM sails very nervous an you have to react fast on shifts gust and compeditors. But for such a small model it sail briljant! and its only twice as small as an iom.

    The guy that designt the MM is Thomas Dreyer (a german iom sailor i believe) In the Netherlands we have almost every competition day 30+ sailor racing the MM. Now the MM is an racing R/C class and there are a coupel of MM sailor who experiment with rig setup sails and deck layout. there's o lot of info on the MM on the web http://www.micromagic.nl and an gbr site http://sailuk.org/news.php
    the succes of the MM is in my opinion the low cost to enter MM sailing, The PR behind the MM and the enhousasem of the group sailors sailing the MM before you know it you are adicted.

    yours Freark

    ps In the netherlands we race whit a min. total weight of 860 grams where the kiel weight is 420 grams max

  4. Great to see a Finnish MM!

    There is also an international site: http://micromagic.info but the forum has been closed down. See the UK site for a forum: http://sailuk.org

    3-4 november we will organize the first Europeans in Gouda: We will be delighted to give a wildcard to a good Finnish sailor! Accomodation has already been taken care of by the Dutch class organisation.

    The MM will become the biggest and most fun (RC)sailing class in the world. Maybe you will find this sound strange. People thought I was weird too when I told them in 2001 the Dutch class would have more then 100 registred boats. We are almost at 2000 now.

    here are the first international classrules:


  5. Dear Anders,

    Propably you remember that Wim Bakker and I did a M-class project with Jari. Together we developed a high performance Monarch. Very interesting project which took significant amount of time.

    During this long development period I couldn't sail. During this period I joined Wim to several MM races. Initially I found it a stupid class and was totally not impressed by the level of racing. Only the basic rules were applied ... or not!

    But ... the fact that in every race there are always several demo boats made me to fall in love with this class and the racing. By actually sailing a competition with a demo boat and learning to handle it made me clear that in principle there is no difference between sailing a M-class, an IOM or the MM. The competition is the same and so is the tactics and rules.

    One big difference is that the level of knowledge of racing rules is less and you have to bear that in mind. It is more than in the other classes a full contact sport. Here in the Netherlands we leave it to the sailors to ask for a penalty and to the courtesy of the other sailor to turn his rounds. No protests and protest committee. In big events like the Nationals we have a sort of grand dad who will speak to people who don't behave. It is a group process. And that works.

    This approach makes it rather easy for new people to start sailing races. It's a sort of live and let live.

    The competition is hard and it is difficult to win a race. The level of sailing is currently high and the differences between the sailors is minimal. I evaluated the Nationals and during 2 days at least 4 people competed for the tittle. It was won in the final race!

    Coming Sunday we sail the final of the Northern Netherlands. At least 10 competitiors can win this race and it will be close racing.

    You ask why this class can be a success. One of the main facts that it has been so successfull in the Netherlands (over 2000 registered boats in 5 years) is the promotion of the Class. People like Steven Oosterheert were capable to make people enthousiastic. They have choosen the right group of people (sailors) and made the right decsion to organize competions in the time these sailors could not sail their full scale boats.

    Some luck may be, or better call it right timing and a nose for a potential market.

    If you can find the same triggers I'm convinced that MM will become also a success in the Nordic countries!

    What about organizing a Nordic MM cup?

    Best regards,

    Harry Drenth

  6. Hi Anders,

    Isn't Google an amazing thing.

    I sail an RC Laser here in Australia & have just finished building a Victor Models Soling 1M.
    My wife is from Sweden, we met there several years ago when I worked in Vimmerby Sweden in the late 90's.
    We are planning to come back to Sweden for a few weeks in July, August next year & I was wondering if you know of clubs that sail the RC Laser in either Sweden or Denmark as we will be staying in Helsingborg for some of our stay. I would like to make some time to have a look at some RC sialing whilst I am there.
    I like your story on the MM, I might investigate importing one as they look like they are good fun.
    The website I have given you is for the importer of the RC Laser here in Australia, collectively we started a club here a couple of years ago. We sail from a dinghy club, it is a nice spot within Sydney Harbour.
    If you could let me know about RC Laser clubs that would be great.


  7. Hi Anders,
    Maybe You remember me from when I was at Saltsjøbaden for NM in IOM a couple of years ago. It was my first race and I made my purpose of not closing th gate. In Danmark I now mostly sail SeaWind. We are now 124 in the club, and it's great fun. I still own IOM DEN 84 but do not sail it too much. There is one perticular guy here, whom You know, who makes it impossible for enyone else to win a race. SeaWind class is more veried, like in Dutch MM, about 10 could win any bigger competition.
    BUT, now I have decided to go in for the MM too. I'll try to form a danish fleet. Many things abut the MM intreagues me a lot. The smalle size, the small price and apparently the small problems sailing it. I havn't got a boat yet, but I have signed up for the Europeans in Holland in november. I think this type will be a lot of fun. How about You? Best regards, Per, Copenhagen. Seawind DEN 14, 123 and IOM DEN 84.

  8. Hi Per,
    If and when the activity picks up in Finland I might well get a MicroMagic.

    Sailing them in the pool at Model Expo was fun, so if not sooner then before Model Expo 2008 I'll get a boat.


  9. Anders,

    can you be of help to find Nordic sailors to compete in the 2nd EC in Rosas, Spain, 27-28 september?

    Both SWE places have been taken, but the 2 DEN and FIN places are open. Do you know any of your skippers who would like to participate? If necessairy we can arrange a fast and good boat too. What about a nice racing weekend under the Spanish sun?

    Till 1-7-2008 we reserve 2 places for DEN and 2 for FIN, bu a NOR sailor is of course also welcome.

    Steven Oosterheert

    More info and links: http://micromagic.info

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