The Gunboat G4’s famous flip in St. Barth’s a couple of years ago didn’t do wonders for the marketing plan behind that ‘cruising’ foiler, but the dedicated racers developing the DNA F4 one-design spinoff of the G4 have been following a different, more logical path. Two-time America’s Cup winner Shannon Falcone (who sailed the G4 extensively) and the team at DNA have been working up the 30-knot-plus machine in Antigua to find her limits before going into full production, and they found those limits a few weeks ago while testing the boat on a squally day off the West Coast of the island. We spoke to the guys in Holland to get the story (and if you want to see the F4 being built in the DNA factory, click here for the full tour we did back in November.) Here’s a photo from under the boat, and here’s a look at the F4 at 30 knots on a more typical daysail. In a bit of bad news for race fans everywhere, the golden F4 won’t make the start of yet another record-setting fleet in the Caribbean 600. Anyway, here’s the official statement:
Thanks for your inquiry, Clean. Although everyone knows cats can flip, we would wished it wouldn’t have happened on a sunny day in the Caribbean after they’d already survived rough weather and storms from NY to Bermuda and then another thousand-mile trip to Antigua without issue! But hey, it happened – so let’s learn from it. That’s why Shannon has been working so hard to learn the boat.
While we hope you get the story straight from Shannon [it’s coming sooner than you realize] we learned from him that he was sailing inside the jib, heading towards the harbour while his crew were on the bow getting the furled FRO down on the tramp. A squall and a big shift caught them with the jib on the winch, and even with the main blown off completely, the pressure on the jib slowly carried them over.
In association with Andrew “Macca” Macpherson, we’ve been working for some time on a system that’s essential for these kinds of boats, and this incident reinforced its need. While winged AC boats and sealed-mast cats lay on their sides in a capsize, boats with more conventional masts turtle almost immediately, making recovery complicated and causing damage to electronics. That’s why we’re excited about the mast-mounted inflatable balloon system we’ve been engineering for the TF-10 trimaran and G4 and F4 foiling cats; in the rare case that one of these boats goes over, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to be righted quickly and easily.
We’ll have more news on the system later, and while we get the boat back in racing shape, feel free to check out this video of the F4 sailing in BDA and Antigua. She’s a dream!