As we adjust to the jet lag and lack of artisanal fresh food and coffee at gas stations, I wanted to send out a quick summary of the A Class Worlds in Italy. We had 154 boats!
What a week. Punta Ala delivered a true test of sailors and equipment with everything from class minimum to near class maximum conditions, flat water to big and even breaking waves over our hulls. Bruce, Lars, and Bob Hodges were the top three scoring Americans. We owe a great deal of thanks to the Italians. While I was a little unsure of a camping resort, it turned out to be an excellent place for the event and one where the hospitality was top during the most important things at a regatta: launching and eating. I know we all miss Italy already and are anxious to return.
Pretty amazing we got 10 sailors on the water given the shipping delays and this success only happened due to the family we have within the A-Class. Not just in the US, but across the class as whole as people helped get spare gear put together to get those without a boat on the water. Jakub from eXploder offered Ben Hall use of his spare boat with the latest foils and a new Fiberfoam rig. Ben graciously gave it to Lars Guckas the top US sailor without a boat. I feel particularly bad for Max Kramers and Joseph Bello. These guys are just starting out in the class (19 and 20 something year olds) and sacrificed a lot to end up getting either very little or no racing due to the container issues. Think of ways to make them welcome and keep them coming to worlds events!
It was also too bad Lars was not able to sail his own boat as he and Andrew Gaynor have developed custom low drag boards and rudders that they planned to test against the best.
Everyone is improving, and it is becoming possible to foil downwind at almost the same angle as someone soaking deep / mild but much faster in just 8 to 10 knots of breeze. There are new passing moves possible now like foiling through the bottom mark rounding and flying as you bear away to the windward mark and offset.
That said, foiling is still not EVEN close to an automatic win. Italy showed top C board boats are still up there and beating many foilers. Wind shifts, good starts, and tactics are still more important than anything else in the A. Getting off a start line with 80 top boats is not easy, and is something we need to work on as a fleet.
The big innovation at the event was the deck sweeper sail plan brought to life by Mischa and Holland Composites. There were three of these set ups and Ashby recut his sail to emulate the same solution an got a Holland Composites boom. It seems to work very well upwind and with foiling and fits on our existing masts. It is going to be exciting to see how the different sail designers approach this opportunity with sail and trampoline, and it made me think about both Jay Glaser and Randy Smyth here who have done similar / innovative rigs in the past and even boomless designs. Glenn Ashby shared that when top designers have looked at the A and what it could become in the future, our mast height is still about right, so we don’t expect to need to change masts.
Getting to spend time with Glenn, Mischa, and PJ from Holland Composites, Jakub and Jacek and from eXploder, Stevie Brewin, and others was a highlight of the event. They all love the class and will spend time with you helping you tune and set up properly or talk about technique. Poland made a real impression on people with the number and quality of its youth sailors and will be hosting the worlds at a beach town in 2017. Plan on it.
On the way back to the airport, a few of us ended up having a long lunch with Glenn Ashby as Ben and Nan Hall brought him back to the airport. How many amateur sailors can say Glenn Ashby bought them lunch? We were lucky and apparently he really, really, really likes calamari. We had a great time together and learned some things.
If you want to sail in a class with some of the coolest sailors in the world, it is not just those I have named above. The A-Class is deep with talent. As an example, Paul Larsen, the fastest sailor alive with his Vestas SpeedRocket doing almost 70 knots, just started the drive back home from Italy after buying a new eXploder. He came to the whole event and browsed around the boat park, learning from sailors and their experiences. He became hooked on the class when he recently tried an A retrofitted with Dario’s L/V foils in Abu Dhabi as part of a C class development effort. Check out his autograph on Hodges’ boat:
Personally, I don’t think I have either foiled as well in light air or gone as fast as I did in Italy, all without a single capsize. This is a testament to the quality of the A and its evolution rather than my own ability. I owe a great deal of thanks to eXploderUSA and Emmanuel Cerf who let me use a new boat and Fiberfoam mast direct from Poland before shipping it to the Northeast for sale. That boat is rigged and ready to go and very quick. I would not have made the event otherwise and am very grateful.
People around the world were pretty excited to hear we are going to be sailing in Newport, RI with The Foiling Week for our North Americans in September 2016. I think the dates will be the 14th through the 18th or something like that. The mix of design talent that attends The Foiling Week and the sailing history of Newport are shaping up to make this a special event. The timing works out very well on the international circuit given the Dutch Worlds in June 2016.
We are starting to get a reputation around the world for fun events in beautiful and accessible venues with reasonable costs, and I think there is nothing better to ensure a healthy class. There is even a good chance we will see some top sailors from Europe and even the southern hemisphere attend key events next year. We have had interest from Austria, New Zealand, and others. If we are fortunate enough to get any visitors from “out of town”, let’s make sure we show them a good time and good racing. USA and Canada fleet members, keep enjoying your boats, practicing and racing as often as you can, and sharing what works and what doesn’t. Let’s see at least 60 boats on the water in Newport and at least 40 at our winter series in Florida!
PS – Here is the gear table to the best of my knowledge on the boats sailing from the USA at the Worlds. I am not listing the many boats that did not get wet:
· Bruce Mahoney – DNA Z board / Fiberfoam mast / Brewin sail
· Lars Guck – eXploder Z5 board / Fiberfoam mast / Not sure of the sail. Landy?
· Bob Hodges – eXploder JZ board / Fiberfoam mast / Brewin
· Bob Webbon – LR5 C board / Fiberfoam mast / Brewin
· Woody Cope – Nikita C board / Fiberfoam mast / Glaser
· Bailey White – eXploder Z5 board / Fiberfoam mast / Brewin
· Tracy Oliver – DNA Z board / Fiberfoam mast / Glaser
· Patrick Burger – ASG3 C boards / Fiberfoam mast / Glaser
· Kevin Grice – EVOII C boards / Fiberfoam mast / Brewin?