This is an interesting discussion. Obviously, the debate revolves around:
- Material cost
- Production cost
- Performance impact
- Cost of ownership (initial as well as longterm)
However, I will offer another factor: the future of the class and it's marketability. Honestly, if I hadn't sailed a J/30 enough to know what a great boat it is, I would have likely looked at other options (in fact, I did initially).
J/30s see most of their action under PHRF racing. I know pretty well that sailors look at the boats between starts, drifting waiting for starts, etc. And, I cannot recall hearing any crewmate saying, "wow - look at the main. I love a dacron main. They look fast and fun." In fact, when I've heard comments that dacron is actually more desirable in some circumstances for it's controlability, it's a seriously hard sell for anyone. If it was, leading grand prix boats would use it.
The fact is, low cost or not (and we're seeing, actually, not), equal performance or not, dacron is the past. Unless someone is nostalgic and just likes that temporary feel of crisp dacron, dacron is something that many equate to outdated.
Whatever the case, I think it's prudent to ask whether simply mandating a dacron is good for the future of the platform. Stick with the past ('cause that's whaht we've done) or consider that a little innovation could help carry the boat forward in it's appeal to new buyers for the next 20 years. Saving current owners a few bucks won't matter if the fleet dwindles away as prospective buyers seek out more innovative, sexy options.
In fact, I've seen fleets where this type of rule change actually breathes new life into the fleet (excitement, new learning curve for some, etc.)
Someone said "emotional appeal" ;-) So, maybe this counts? I will, however, refrain from saying "it's for the children".