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Posts Tagged ‘a-cat’

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We think this is the best video in the history of A-Cat sailing.  Bravo to the sailors, bravo to whoever put this encyclopedia together, and bravo to everyone in the A-Class for fostering an environment of such amazing openness.  Pretty cool to see names like Paul Larsen, Goran Marstrom, and so many other luminaries in the history of fast cat racing.

August 23rd, 2017 by admin

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Just a month after Mischa Heemskerk and Stephan Dekker’s ridiculous, all-bullet (gold fleet) performance to win their first-ever F-18 World Championship, Mischa is back in the driver’s seat on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast as the A-Cat Worlds fleet fires up, and if this pic is any evidence, he’s on the prowl…[just joking, Carrie -ed].  Head to the thread to find out more about the deck sweepers, stabilizers, and no-boom rigs amongst the crazy tech in this fast foiling fleet.  Video preview here and big thanks toPJ Dwarshuis and the guys at DNA Performance for their help in putting together this comprehensive preview/form guide.  By the way, with both the Moths and A-Cats hosting their largest-ever world championships in 2017 and the average age continuing to plummet amongst the fleets, is there anyone out there who still thinks foiling is a fad?  News and photos from the event are over here.

19 nationalities and 150 boats on the entry list proves the growing interest in this highly competitive and foiling catamaran class. Dozens of past World Champs  in a variety of classes discovered the A class cat over the last few years as the ultimate in singlehanded excitement.  The A cats are challenging to sail, with nearly unmatched and highly-refined development in one of the last truly open classes left.  Many ideas coming from the A-class trickled down to other boats and even into the AC Cats; it’s not surprising then that many Cup sailors and designers play in the A for fun.  .

The reigning world champion and man to beat at the moment is DNA team rider, developer and fellow Dutchman Mischa Heemskerk. Mischa is on a roll, as last month he also won the Formula 18 class world title with 7 straight bullets in the goldfleet final and before that won the locally well known Round Texel race.

Mischa will face big competition from the squad from Polish A-Cat builder Exploder, which has put in countless hours in their effort to break DNA’s string of five straight A-Cat Worlds. Heemskerk’s biggest competition should come from Aussie Exploder riders like two-time World Champ Stevie Brewin and double Olympic medallist and Tornado world champ Darren Bundock, who’ve been working as a team to unseat the reigning Dutch champ.

While Poland may be better known for growing gorgeous women and brewing great vodka, their sailors are a major force to be reckoned with, especially with the added motivation of winning on their home turf.   The next generation of cat kids is led by 24-year old Jakub Surowiec who proved very strong at the last big European regattas, while Tymotek Bendyk and Jacek Noetzel are also factors – the latter is the longtime Polish champion and also the driving force behind the successful growth of the Class in Poland.

Mischa will again be sailing the stealthy black carbon DNA F1,  unchanged for the second year of production now. The platform is identical to his winning boat at last years worlds in Medemblik, Holland.

The DNA F1 is highly optimized for low aero drag, proving extremely fast in all conditions. The construction is state-of-the-art carbon/prepreg/nomex honeycomb, built in a unique one-shot method in Holland Composites‘ autoclave. Carbon fiber to weight ratio is unmatched, resulting in platforms that remain stiff for longtime.  We introduced the semi-rigid carbon trampoline last year, stiffening the platform and making the boat look extremely slick.

The ‘Z‘ foils, which have all four foils kept deployed in the water during sailing, as originally developed by DNA in 2014 are still unchanged. We have been playing with other foil designs however keep returning to the original shape – it is easy to optimize for one particular condition but in our view the best foil is the one offering the best all-around performance. You could see this clearly in the AC where they had various foils for different wind ranges – we have to make do with one throughout the entire event hence our quest for a good all arounder.

The decksweeper sails are common nowadays, but it was Mischa who developed the modern iteration of these super-efficient mainsails to a new level.  The sail seals all the way to the airtight trampolines, resulting in significantly higher efficiency of the rig.  This helped DNA take 1st and 2nd at the ’15 Worlds, and while Glenn is taking a much-needed family holiday instead of sailing Worlds, the America’s Cup winner and 9-time A-Cat world champ says he’ll be back soon to set things straight.

 

Sails might just be as important as foils in this fleet’s development, and Mischa Sails, the Polish Bryt sails and North Sails all use Contender Maxx cloth, which has proven very suitable for these refined and flexible rigs which needs to depower and repower within seconds. Brewin sails and Landenberger sails go for radial-cut sails from conventional laminates, some of them optimized for lower rigs and some top teams going boom-less, while other sailmakers stick to the ‘half-wishboom’ setup.  where other sail makers stick to the ‘half-wishboom’ setup.

Polish builder Exploder pushed foil development to the extreme by developing literally dozens of prototype foils and rudders designed by Spanish designer Gonzalo Redondo.  They’ve also varied their daggerboard and beam positions a lot over the last year, resulting in many different Exploders to come to the right setup. Exploder builds their boats out of home-made carbon prepreg/nomex, and in a more typical production method of two bonded halves per hull, making the boat a bit more straigh forward with less extreme beam shapes and conventional trampolines. Their Z foil (type number 21) looks to be the one to get right now, which surprisingly comes pretty close in surface and foiling angle to the now 4-year-old original DNA foil.

Foil design is all about finding the right compromise between control and speed , combining good low end performance with top speed and top control when it starts blowing. It really looks like the same challenge as seen in the AC , but on a smaller and more fun scale!

Upwind foiling seems to be the new challenge and it will be very interesting to see if this will pay off this championship. Australian sailors seems to have made a big step there, optimizing their rigs with shorter masts to get the center of effort lower for better, easier balance foiling upwind. Yet by doing this, they probably sacrifice some light wind performance there, so time will tell if it will pay off during the entire event.

 

Swiss manufacturer Schreuer with team rider and developer Sandro Caviezel pushes upwind foiling even further, developing his stunning airplane looking G7 with the same rigid trampoline technique first seen on the DNA F1. Sandro is looking extremely slippery upwind in this Swiss piece of art. Especially in moderate conditions and flat seas, Sandro could be a surprise contender.

It’s fantastic to see that the foiling revolution actually made the class stronger than ever. There has been a lot of discussion about foiling and about class rules in recent years, but the cool thing is that, in the end, those rules controversies led to the Z foil development, which proves to be the best foiling configuration possible for small catamarans. Loading boards from the top-down and leaving both boards down during racing brings easy handling of boats whilst sailing and also onshore. Most important, it eliminates the handling of boards up and down at each tack or gybe, and this important fact keeps racing interesting because tactical short tacks and gybes are not so costly.

The same type of boards are used now for the new Olympic upgrade of the Nacra 17. These boats are only on the water for a few weeks now, but sailors will quickly learn how to sail these boats fast and safe as happened in the A class. Without a doubt it will be an eye opener in the fleet of Olympic classes.

With the Polish Nationals/pre-Worlds having gone off in a mostly low-riding light-air affair, top Spaniard Manual Calavia came out on top, and the short-rigged Aussies may be scratching their heads to decide whether to go for the short rig (8 meters) or the common 9 meter rigs next week.

All European sailors stay with standardized 9 meter masts, nowadays nearly all produced by Scott Andersons’ Fiberfoam from Austria. Two choices there: The common and proven standard untapered section, which has been a class favorite for many years, or the tapered wingsection which was developed and built by DNA four years ago and now manufactured by Fiberfoam for DNA. The DNA’s mast section tapers from 165 to 125 mm, flattening out in the top to only 45 mm, so much more extreme than the original 60 mm thick standard section. Obviously, with the trend of foiling and smaller apparent wind angles these sections will become standard in the class quickly.

Attempts to wider wingmasts and even solid wings are still made in the class, but on the twitchy super light A-class, so far no one has proven any gain. But without any doubt, development also won’t stop in this area.

The A class is more alive than ever. More and more resources are put into development by builders and sailors, and foiling is no longer for pro’s only, but all average and above A class sailors are consistently foiling nowadays, making sailing the A‘s hugely attractive and addictive.

Which other class features competitive and attractive racing from 4 to 22 knots in all sea states, in more than twenty countries worldwide? We rest assured that the A-class remains the class to keep an eye on for the coming years.

-PJ Dwarshuis

 

 

 

August 18th, 2017 by admin

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2015 A-Class Catamaran North American Championships

US A-Class Presidente Bailey White gives us the goods on the biggest regatta of the US season for the foiling singlehander, along with a controversial and exciting new direction for the extremely healthy US and Canadian Class.  Thanks to Walter Cooper for the great shots, and get in on the rules debate over here.

The A-Class Catamaran North American Championship is entering its last day here in Panama City, Fla., and I can guarantee no one wants it to end. We’re not sure what the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club sacrificed to the weather gods to get it, but every day has had perfect, solid breeze – not too much, not too little, and you can see how the new foiling guys are improving each day.

2015 A-Class Catamaran North American ChampionshipsThe leader board pretty much solidified after day one, with previous North American A-Cat Champ, iceboat world champion and Moth sailor Matt Struble, last year’s NA champion Bruce Mahoney, and USACA president Bailey White going 1-2-3 respectively.  Struble returns to the fleet after a two-year absence and is using Ben Moon’s A-Cat. In yesterday’s perfect foiling conditions, as soon as he and Bruce Mahoney rounded the top mark, their event turns into a match race on foils. These guys just have another gear, going lower and faster than anyone else. In yesterday’s six – 10 knots and flat water, at times they finished five minutes ahead of a very competitive fleet.

But more on the regatta report later … let’s talk about the yesterday’s excellent class meeting for Canada and USA members. We have voted to suspend the Class Rule 8 for two years.  That’s the rule that limits foiling technology for the Class.   We have not modified any other rule, and this is a change just for our two countries, designed to give us the information we need to make a proposal to the International Class members.

The A-Class is the fastest growing and possibly largest foiling class of any kind in North America, with almost 50 foilers coming online in the last 9 months, We now have people aged 20 to 70 foiling at the regatta, and our new change means    we can now put foiling boards in from the bottom, eliminating all other restrictions to encourage members to experience the incredible sensation of flying.

2015 A-Class Catamaran North American ChampionshipsSo, what does this mean? Whether you have a new boat or an old boat, you will be able to fly in the A-Class.

In addition, at our skipper’s meeting, we unanimously approved having a fixed spectator boat in the middle of the fleet. Yesterday a gorgeous 50-foot trawler hosted Panama City commissioners and guests so they could enjoy the action up close. This is one progressive community, where the City is actively pursuing hosting major events here – there is the support of the mayor, city commissioners and the local businesses to entice sailing to their area.

It’s not too late to check in to the action. Today’s the last day of the North American Championship, and racing kicks off at 12:30 CT. Superstar sailing PR Laura Muma and her team are sharing updates on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and testing out the new Twitter Livestream app, so you can watch the starts and roundings as they happen.

May 23rd, 2015 by admin

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We love to get nerdy, and few can get nerdier than former Air Force Lt. Col., Boeing military aerospace engineer, Oracle Racing designer, and Sailing Anarchist Tom Speer.  This guy has been foiling since Egyptian Cotton sails – that’s why we can excuse the crappy sound and image quality from The Foiling Week’s video of Speer’s talk on the state-of-the-art in foiling, just last week.  It’s embedded above, and here’s the companion PDF to Speer’s talk.

 

July 15th, 2014 by admin

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Ben Moon takes the lead on a very breezy Friday at the A-Cat NAs. Check it.

 

June 14th, 2014 by admin

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With racing abandoned on day 2 of the A-Cat NAs, Houston cat racer Bruce Mahoney took the chance to trial his brand new flying J/boards in 12 knots of breeze and a beautiful evening in the OBX.  Here’s the interview and Bruce’s explanation, along with a look at what a stable 18-20 knot ride looks like on an A-Class.

 

June 13th, 2014 by admin

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AY7Q8121While its international appeal is fairly diverse, the American A-Cat Class has long been regarded as the province of athletic but greying sailors, so it’s surprising that we’ve got not one but two teenagers racing their own boats at the A-Class NAs in the OBX.  Here’s a Rachel Jesperson/OceanImages look at the excellent Jeremy Herrin, who nailed a second place yesterday sailing an A-Cat he built himself in his Sarasota, FL garage with his dad.

Here’s the Day 1 Highlight Video with a short chat from Jeremy; three more days of sailing are ahead with Bruce Mahoney leading the fleet after two light air races.

 

June 12th, 2014 by admin

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The low country of the OBX means you can always find flat water and cheap seafood, and calms are rare; here’s the first video look at racing for the largest A-Cat fleet ever assembled for a North American Championship, thanks to Richard and Rachel from Ocean Images.  Photo gallery here, news release here, and keep an eye on the SailNC Facebook Page for updates.

 

June 11th, 2014 by admin

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The A-Cats continue their uncertain march toward full foiling despite Class rules specifically formulated to prevent it; To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum, “Flight finds a way”, and it certainly has.  And in spite of (or, perhaps, thanks to) the rules rift, the Gunboat A-Cat North Americans at SailNC on the Outer Banks has one of the biggest NorthAm fleets in the Class’s history.

While we won’t see the illegal but logical bottom-in L-foils that a few Aussies are experimenting with in Sydney, a 60+ boat fleet will include quite a few cassette and J-board foilers and some serious talent on hand.  Our own Senior Editor is on the ground in Manteo, North Carolina to help the Gunboat team provide all sorts of interesting coverage of one of the coolest events in the US this year, and it all begins above with a good look at some of the sailors and some of their rides.

Best place to follow every bit of 5 days of sailing on the breezy Carolina coast, including a pile of pics already? SailNC’s Facebook Page.

June 9th, 2014 by admin

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It’s been another interesting week in the wide world of sailing on screen; here are the pieces we liked the most:

brand new friend

The number of Americans going sailing is still very near an all-time low, but as of this week, we’re in what may strike you as a surprisingly good mood about the state of the sport here in the good old US of A.  Why?  Because, based on Senior Editor Mr. Clean’s time at the 3-day US Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego, we truly believe that, for the first time since Sailing Anarchy’s birth 15-odd years ago, our sport’s governing body seems to be on the right track – a track that, if it continues, will lead to real growth in the part of the sport that really matters – the base.

All the Yacht Clubs and all the regional racing authorities and all the ‘welcome newbies” programs can’t change the fact that we need far more people sailing recreationally to get more people racing, and one of the most impressive parts of the Leadership Forum was the makeup of the 600-odd attendees; almost half were female, with a median age of less than 40.  US Sailing doled out over $7000 in travel subsidies to help dozens of community sailing staffers show up, and they were overwhelmingly young and often female; these are the folks in the trenches bringing thousands of new faces into sailing every year.

If there is one criticism of the event’s format, it’s that there were perhaps too many seminars and breakouts in too short a time, and while the vast majority consisted of valuable, engaging content and speakers, a handful were nothing more than disguised corporate promotions for various service providers – something tough to tell from the titles of each session, but easy to tell when you sat down and found a business card on your chair.  But aside from that – and perhaps from the Hilton’s price-gouging that left the younger folks and community sailing staffers unable to have a single drink at any of the parties or even the hotel bar – Event Director  Katie Ouelette seems to have found a formula for an annual meeting of stakeholders that’s fun, exciting, and advances the sport forward in a way that’s been both sorely lacking and desperately needed.

Even the Yacht Club crowd was a younger and more vibrant group than we’ve ever seen at any non-youth US Sailing gathering, and like everyone else, they were treated to an information smorgasbord from a distinguished group of young and old speakers including our very own Mr. Clean.  That fact alone should tell you that US Sailing is clearly on a new path; it’s taken more than a decade, but we welcome them to the 21st century.

If you’d like to know what US Sailing is up to, and why we think you should drop the 60 bucks and join them for 2014, watch the 16-minute interview between Clean and US Sailing Executive Director Jack Gierhart above.  Give them a shot at doing good things with your money, and we’ll circle back around in early 2015 and tell you if they are living up to their promises – and you can get into the spirited discussion about it all here.  Title shout to Lloyd Cole, and look for the full directory of both the interviews we did and the useful videos posted by US Sailing next week – including Clean’s face off with other leading sailing media peeps.

find out why

Until November (and beyond, really), the Volvo Ocean Race is only as good as the stories it tells.  That’s why we’re overjoyed that they’ve pilfered one of SA’s videographer gems – young Sam Greenfield sucks you into the US/Turkish Team Alvimedica in this excellent piece posted yesterday.  Check it out above, and go and like Sam’s page here.  Whether or not the Volvo can handle his unconventional and no-compromise style, he’ll always be welcome here.

may the force 10 be with you

Who says you can’t sail in a hurricane?  Not the Red Bull Storm Chasers, and after a ridiculous 3rd stop in winds of ludicrous speed, France’s Thomas Traversa is the new king of the hurricanes.   There’s an excellent full report of the final stage of the three-event world-girdling event here.

 

mind over matter

Big money and big restrictions flowing from the Cup has stagnated most sailing videography over the past couple of years, and that only makes the sexy stuff coming out of UK production house RedHanded TV look even better; check out this trailer from the upcoming windsurfing movie Brutal Addiction.

 

neither fish nor fowl

 

The boys from ETNZ continue to crush the A-Class Cat Worlds fleet, in an odd Takapuna Worlds where some of the fleet is foiling some of the time, and none of the fleet is foiling in anything you’d call ‘control’.  This is largely because the daggerboard designs are limited to the non-acute angles of board that can be ‘fit in from the top’, as required by A-Class rules, and without a stable Groupama C or ETNZ-style ‘J’ board, or a sophisticated system of controlling the more open “L” boards (like OTUSA or Hydros), the boats fly in fits and starts.  It’s still faster to fly than drag in the breeze they’ve had, and aside from one DNF due to a rudder hardware failure, Ashby is on the verge of adding another one of these to his trophy closet.  This vid from Argentina Marine Media is the best we’ve seen yet, and you can find some great Cathy Vercoe pics here, and some video from Beau Outerridge here.  Of course there is plenty more first-hand reporting and debate about the recently defeated vote for a proper foiling rule in the thread, which will continue to rage on until someone makes a bold move either towards, or away from, the light. 

Former US A-Class Prez Bob Hodges put together a succinct note summarizing his views:

For those on this thread who are currently not active A-Class sailors and/or who have never sailed the boat.

The decision of the class as a whole to not change the current rules is because we are a cautious and conservative lot that do have a vested interest in how the boat and class evolves. I don’t think you can appreciate that perspective until you own an A-Class and you actively sail and race it.

It’s important to note that the top five at the WC currently are paid pro sailors. Theyare great guys, very approachable, and very supportive to their fellow sailors. But they do enjoy the advantage of someone else paying the bills when it comes to the equipment they are racing in this event. They understand the implications of what can happen if the class rules are changed to where the average A-Class sailor’s financial means cannot keep up with the development. How many of you can afford to race a C-class?

I consider myself in great physical condition for my age (55 years old). We have a huge range of sailors in this class from their 20’s to their 70’s that have been able to race the boat across the wind range of our class rules (5-22 knots). The boats have become much easier, safer, and more enjoyable to sail with the addition of curved daggerboards and rudder winglets. But there is no doubt that foil packages that actually fly the boat will raise the physical requirements to sail the boat. I’m excited but at the same time concerned that I may not have the physical stamina and agility to competitively race the boat at the performance levels I am seeing at this WC. If the physical requirements to sail the boat increase by say 25%, we could see a vacuum created that would need to be filled by younger sailors who probably do not have the financial means to own the boat (a Moth is 1/2 the price if you want to foil).

As the boats start to fly and the speeds increase to the low to mid 20’s, mistakes will be harsh on not only the sailor’s bodies but on the structure of the boat itself. The current boats are amazingly strong and durable. If we start to routinely fly, it remains to be seen whether the boat’s can handle the different load and torque dynamics on a routine basis. Crashing at over 20 knots of boatspeed will be hard on a boat that only weighs 75 kg and has a 29′ tall lever arm pushing the bows down, totally different dynamics than a Moth going over the cliff. If breakages and failures get out of control as the boats begin to fly, there is the potential for another vacuum to get created both in terms of losing sailors but also builders who get driven out of business because they cannot keep up with the warranty claims. There is also the insurance question. If the A-clas becomes a boat that has the potential for substantial damage in a routine “crash”, no insurance company will want to offer coverage. Some will not insure our boats due to mast breakage claims.

From my own standpoint, I don’t need to foil for the pure sensation of speed. I own a quiver of sailboards that in 15-18 knots are capable of sailing faster that an A-Cat will ever go even on foils and I can do that at a lot cheaper cost and at much less risk to my body and my financial investment in equipment. That is a perspective that I believe many in our class share.

I’ll speculate that it’s possible Landy’s strategy for racing a “conventional” boat is to not only sail what he is the most comfortable with but also to be a benchmark in this championship that will be important for the direction he leads the class as its class president. Scott Anderson’s performance so far is a great reference point as he typically does not trapeze downwind nor is he sailing a foiling package I believe. Scott is also in his late 50’s so represents what is possible competing against the younger guns in the top five that have the financial support of TNZ. If the breeze truly lightens to the 5-8 knot range for racing later this week, it will be very interesting to see how Landy and Scott perform. This is an exciting but kind of scary moment for the class. I hope we make the right choices to keep the class as vibrant as it currently is.

Bob Hodges – A-Class USA 230

 

February 13th, 2014 by admin

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