If you watch just one online video today and want to see how and why foiling is rapidly coming towards us, watch this one
Last week’s A-Class World Championships in Takapuna, NZ was an extraordinary event. For starters there were 79 boats entered in a field littered with some of the world’s top sailors including Olympic and America’s Cup stars. The regatta saw high speeds in light airs, a blistering pace in the breeze and in some cases, carnage in the more punchy conditions. In the end Glenn Ashby took the world title for a staggering eighth time, an incredible achievement.
All of which was very impressive, but what made this even stand out for me, apart from some of the superb images and video that came out of the event, was to see just how of how quickly foiling technology is rushing downstream.
Australian Olympic Gold medalist and Artemis’ AC72 helmsman Nathan Outteridge is one of the world’s best high performance sailors and in this short video, talks us through the workings of his A-Class cat – it’s fascinating stuff from someone who is not only a master-foiler, but can explain some of the more technical details and why they are significant in simple terms that the rest of us can understand.
This is one of the best explanations I’ve seen of how a modern foiling boat actually works, what it feels like and where the developments are happening.
Among the details that I thought were particularly interesting:
– The simple control for raking the dagger boards fore and aft to control the angle of attack of the foiling part of the board
– Particularly interesting are his comments on the ‘C’ and ‘J’ foils that are used on A Class cats versus the ‘L’ shaped foils, (he refers to them as surface piercing), that were used on the Cup boats. The A Class rules only allow foils to be inserted from the top, which prevents posting an ‘L’ shape through the slot in the hull. Outteridge believes that if the rule was changed to allow inserting an ‘L’ foil from the bottom, the boats would be more stable – Interesting food for thought for future developments.
– The simple drop down rudder system and the means of locking the blades in place.
– The gunwale modification to improve foot bracing is an indication of the big decelerations that sailors need to cope with.
– Using negative lift, in other words down force, on the windward foil to increase righting moment and hence power. This was banned in the AC72s. Generating additional righting moment in a similar way to the spoiler on a race car will doubtless be a contentious issue in the future, particularly as doing this increases the loads throughout the rest of the boat.
Of his quotes:
“These boats are so much easier to sail that what they were two or three years ago.”
“I haven’t come close to nose diving the boat yet. In fact it’s more of an issue keeping the boat in the water. Everyone thinks it’s becoming harder with all this foiling but I disagree – I think its just becoming more exciting and more fun.”
“It’s a development class and you can spend as much or as little as you want to – I think it’s great that some of the Cup guys are putting some of their own money into developing the boats which will make it cheaper for everyone else.”
And my favourite quote that puts the whole exercise into perspective and reminds you just how good these sailors are;
“I can assure you it’s a lot harder on a 75kg boat [as opposed to an AC72] while you’re trapezing!”
Better start with a Cup boat then!!
And finally, if you missed the event and want to know what all the fuss is about, take a look at this highlights video compilation