Quantum Sails in San Diego is one of those special lofts that is always challenging itself. I have had the privilege of being able to get to know the guys and work with them on coming up with a new design for, and then building a Finn sail. Over a few meetings with Mark Reynolds and George Szabo we came up with the idea of seeing what it would take to break into the Finn class with a new sail. The loft has been successful in the other heavy weight men’s Olympic class, the Star, and we are planning the same approach with the Finn.
We looked around the loft and found a Mylar pattern from one of Marks previous designs, back when they used Aluminum masts and Dacron sails. Since this obviously would not do, George got stuck into designing a new Finn main with the computer, essentially from scratch, over the next few weeks. With much kibitzing between Mark, George, Eric and I we finally got a shape that we were happy with. The next step was to stick the design into the plotter and get it to cut out a test sail in paper (this way you are not wasting expensive sail cloth if there is something wrong with the design that could not be seen in the computer model of the sail). With a few minor tweaks and tunes to the paper sails we were happy that the sizing and shape was spot on within the Finn class rules. Once this step was completed we were able to plot out and assemble the sail out of the chosen sail material. In this case it was 1.5 mm Mylar with Kevlar skrim. I brought down my boat from Long Beach and rigged her up for a test sail out in front of SDYC the Wednesday before the start of the Finn North Americans.
After the first test sail George and I both noticed that the sail was very very powerful…my 6’7” 220 lbs frame was fully hiking in 6-8kts, conditions in which I would normally still be sitting in the boat searching for power. The one complaint I had straight away was that the leach hooked to weather a bit more than usual. After a bit of discussion we were happy to see that with the extra strength in the cloth weight we were able to wail on the Cunningham twisted the top off beautifully and flattened the sail. Armed with this successful test I headed off to the North American Champs in WINDY San Francisco. 8 races in 18-25kts on the Berkeley Circle was a hell of a test of fire for our new sail… After 3 days of 20+ kts I felt like I got mugged by a pack of angry badgers, but the sail preformed much better than I did. It was a glammer off the line, I was able to leave the Cunningham off and maintain height, then as soon as I was in a position to go bow down I would wail as hard as I could on the Cunningham and crush over the top of the boats to leeward with a comfortable groove to drive in that is a mile and a half wide.
I am very pleased with the work every one at Quantum San Diego has done. What we have come up with is a sail that is fast easy to shift gears, easy to drive, as well as one that will last longer than other Finn sails since we are using the 1.5mm cloth. Now if only I was as fit as Ed Wright and could gybe a Finn in 25kts without my sphincter clamping shut tighter than Fort Knox during a safe crackers convention, would be a start in the right direction. – Phil Toth