my $0.02 ...in short, a box-rule is a good thing.
for reference, I'm 6'5" and about 235-240lbs. so having an 'unlimited' class might benefit me more than others. But still, a box rule is a good thing IMO.
Alright, we all want the racing part of the sport to grow. That takes two things - more racers and more money.
It's a bit of a cyclical argument, but consider this... in unlimited, a rider might have 2 or 3 boards to chose from depending on the wind. In really light wind, he'll take a super wide board; stronger, narrower, and so on. But those boards are really expensive. Only a very small minority can afford one, let alone many.
Now consider joe-average, who might think racing is cool but hasn't bought a board yet because he's afraid of the cost to entry and it being outdated in a few months. So lets say you put a limit on the board width - that shifts the development focus on hull shape and fins. It also means that you don't need 2 or 3 boards to be competitive. Just one good one, because the goal of that board is to be a great compromise of performance in all conditions. = lower $$$ barrier to entry, which will help bring in new riders + keep the current ones.
So now joe-average can buy a board and at least "FEEL" like he can be competitive (sure.. maybe he needs to upgrade fins, and maybe one board is marginally better than another, but at least it's SAFER to go and buy a board now).
This means also that a production brand can now make a production board without the risk that no one will buy it. Conversely, the production boards have more lifespan so people WILL buy them. This then infuses more money in to the racing side of the sport, more riders join in, and the brands put more resources behind it. Then it sort of cycles along further.
There will be plenty of differences in the boards' designs, but now they become all generally the same size, so the development focus is more on the shape itself and again the fins. But development it not halted by any means, it is just controlled and paced so as to be conducive to growth of the sport.
So production board annual cycles now match up with development cycles and a good board will be a good board for at least a year. But that also gives each manufacturer a year to develop and test new ideas.
If there is a radical new development, a box rule can always be modified.
I think cutting edge and constant development is very cool and exciting, but right now there isn't enough money in to the sport to support the current rate. It will become more and more specialized, and eventually fade if this continues to extremes. The alternative is to find a healthy balance between mass appeal and innovation so as to bring in the big players and their resources. But aligning these processes in sync is just as important as each individual process.
If board development is paced, and the big boys get involved, AND the racing side of the sport grows as a result, you can be damn sure that will in turn be reflected in kite development as well ...all for the better. So instead of being a niche of a niche sport, why not be a major component?
anyone else agree???