Notes on Footy design trends.
The Euro GP was successful in a number of ways. One was that it allowed a reasonably direct comparison between a wider variety of signs and ways of thinking than is usually possible.
Please note that these notes are purely my personal views. If anyone is offended, they should feel free to defend themselves. No harm or insult is intended, even to Gary Sanderson.
The boat of the meeting was undoubtedly Duck. Narrowish, lightish, well-balanced and well-sorted with a distinctly cod’s head & mackerel’s tail hull form She reminds me very much of the Miller (later Lexcen) Admiral’s Cuppers Ginkgo and Apollo II of 1973 vintage. She is devilishly fast in heavy air, particularly upwind. At one stage I had her transmitter pressed into my hand whileGary did something and was astonished how easy she was to sail
Probably the most interesting boat was Flavio Faloci’s Folgore (Thunderbolt). When I first saw her in my hotel room two nights before, I must admit that my hart sank. Here was this nice man who had come all the way from Italy t compete using what was obviously a semi-scale character boat However, it soon became apparent that the ‘semi-scale’ and ‘character’ features are cunningly styled manifestations of some very clever and highly original thinking intended to produce a very fast Footy indeed.
She is narrow and fairly with a ‘soft chine’ hull form. She is far from light (about 500g if my memory serves me right) but the overall immersed depth of the hull is not as great as you might think. The rocker is concentrated in the ends so that in profile she looks rather like the underwater part of a ‘bustleoid + double chin’ 12 metre (e.g. Southern Cross). However, the sections are trapezoidal throughout with substantial flare – even amidships. Combined with a fine spring to the sheerline, this gives an imposing ‘Mediterranean fishing boat’ bow which definitely appears to be effective in keeping the water where it belongs.
All this is minor detail compared with the rig – a traditional (-ish!) gaff rig complete with numbers in some antique font and wooden spars (including a long and questing bowsprit – she should have been called Espada) in beautifully laminated balsa. Very pretty – but performance – nah. Now stop and think. This rig gets loads of sail area low down. Centre of effort is low and the B rig can generate bags of power. Forget the idea that gaff rigs really will not go to windward. This largely stems from the excessive twist caused by heavy wooden gaffs falling off to leeward, unrestrained by stretchy natural fibre sails. In reality most modern AC rigs are gaff but using carbon battens and massively strong sailcloth instead of flax canvas and Norway spruce.
Performance on the water was impressive (especially when you consider that you could still smell the varnish in the bilge) until her sail servo died. Even then with the sails permanently trimmed for a close reach she did remarkably well. A boat to watch in future.
My Voortrekker design was a disappointment. After a good second in the first race she faded into nothingness. Michael van den Peet puts this down to poor tuning through lack of time (why do people have to move houses) and says that she is now much better trialling against Duck. As it is Moonshadow – which is competitive against Duck – was left in the cupboard.
The other revelation of the series was Charlie Mann’s Lajabless. I must admit that, although I hugely admire Nigel’s building I had never been particularly struck by the Lajabless as a design. In reality she managed to carry a huge rig during the windy Saturday races and was right up there with the leaders, failing to sink, submarine or do any of the other nasty things that every KNEW were going to happen. She faded somewhat on Saturday, her new light-weather McCormack rig notbeing quite up to the mark. If the origina rig restrictions are to continue to apply, optimising one of these boats in terms of sail area versus bulb weight becomes a very interesting conumdrum.
The ‘conventional’ medium-wide beam, medium displacement boats (Cobra II and Mistralette) did consistently pretty well, as is evidenced by their coming out 2nd and 3rd respectively
To my mind these were the most interesting design observations on the series. If anyone has different views, argue now – or better still come back next year to prove your point on the water. Even better, do both!!