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more cowbell

With the Speedboat and a pile of Volvo 70s grinding and scraping their way to readiness for the 2013 Sydney-Hobart Race, Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI is looking both long in the tooth and a bit iffy for that all-important first-to-finish trophy.  What’s a billionaire to do when his 100′ Super Maxi starts to look old and tired?  There ain’t enough time to build a wider, more powerful boat, and you’ve already added yet another steering appendage up front to go with the canting keel, rudder, and two daggerboards.  Maybe you just need a little more cowbell.

That’s apparently what WOXI skipper Mark Richards thought, and the result is a nearly 3-meter DSS horizontal stability fin.  We’ve seen them before, and they’re performing with varied results, and the consensus is that, for the right boat, the DSS system is pretty damned sweet.  WOXI will test out the new foils next month at Hamilton Island Race Week.

We think this is the biggest DSS deployment yet, and you can bet your sweet ass that, if the Aussie “Swiss Army Knife” works, you’ll see a lot of retrofitting very soon; with the worldwide economy less stable than even Rolex’s sailing future, it’s a lot cheaper to cut a new hole in your boat than it is to build a new one.

There’s one massive problem we can see here:  One big fish or one waterlogged timber is going to tear a hell of a hole in a boat that averages 20 knots and touches 40 regularly.  Do they really need another point of failure?


August 14th, 2013

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