Jan 22, 2014

2014 A-Class Worlds Preview by Arno Terra

Image above by Matthew Johnson: Dean Barker is returning to the Class after participating in the AUS Nats 2011. Arno is not working anymore with the Dna project but as main responsible along PJ of the former developments of the brand and as an avid fanatic A-Cat sailor he will continue to be deeply involved with the Class.
His analysis includes some rules points to be addressed at Takapuna in the Class WGM. The Agenda of that meeting is available at www.a-cat.org/?q=node/337  Additional Report by Bob Griffits at www.a-cat.org/?q=node/345
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2014 A-Cat Worlds Preview by Arno Terra
"It promises to be quite an interesting event with many AC sailors entering or coming back to the Class. Foiling is the buzzword and some New Zealand sailors switched to J-boards after they were smacked by Peter Burling and Glenn in practice.

Jack Benson is foiling on flexible C-boards and he did win the last race in the Australian Nationals in a stiff breeze.
The sailors who could look through the results of last year’s events in Hyeres and Barcelona were already convinced that flying is the way to go as Mischa had some remarkable come from behind wins in both events.
The best sailors of the last Worlds will be present in Takapuna (Mischa, Landy, Stevie, Blair, Jack, Nathan?), Glenn Ashby will be back and he will take his TNZ mates with him (Dean Barker, Ray Davies, Blair Tuke, Peter Burling, the youth AC series winner, and Luc Dubois an AC & A-class veteran).

The DNA will be the dominant boat, we will see some Scheurer’s (Luc's with DNA J-boards) some Exploders (Landy) and Stevie

on the Nikita.

If results of the past are a clue for things to come, one would expect a battle between Stevie and Glenn. These sailors were dominant at the last Australian Nationals, though Glenn was using a 2012 DNA with standard C-boards and not his 2013 model which remained in New Zealand. With all the ETNZ guys on J-boards now, Stevie will have to work harder and any small mistake will cost him more places than ever before.

Glenn is clearly the favourite but there are some serious contenders. Mischa, Stevie, Blair Tuke and Peter Burling will put the heat on him. Mischa and Dean can be both very fast if the breeze picks but are more vulnerable in the lighter stuff. If the light is not too light they can be competitive too as you can trapeze pretty early with the J-boards downwind.

Blair and Peter have been training hard and their hard work may pay off.
The flex C-boards are an interesting development. PJ, I and Mischa have also experimented with flex and did find some benefits too.

In sail development we do not see too many new things. Everyone uses quite full sails on pretty flexible masts now. Extremely soft does not add more flexibility so most top guys are using a medium soft mast with a sail they can still flatten enough upwind.

We might see some new developments introduced by Landy and/or Mischa as both of them are always looking for something new. It was Landy who introduced the winglets, but it was Mischa who made the winglets everybody’s favourite. Landy owns a Moth too and he is not the type of guy who shows up at the Worlds with a non-competitive boat.

At the Worlds the AGM will also decide if there will be a ballot about the hydrofoil rule. The uncertainty about this is hurting the class as clients are delaying their orders for new boats. Last year there was a lot of skepticism about the need the fly on an A-class.

After last AC , the C-class event in Falmouth and the introduction of the flying Phantom the skepticism is transformed into a desire for faster flying boats. We can fly with current rules and we may even fly easier without it. The focus will be more on boards design and less on hull design.
 I think that the class should abolish the 1,50 between the tips and the put in form the top rule as these rules have no longer a function and might make new developments more expensive as people are already starting to work around these rules.

The rules were a compromise to prevent flying. We are flying now and we should open up for new developments. These developments will be more marginal than some of us would expect. Current foiling boats are already pretty efficient and the solution used in the AC, C-class and Flying Phantom is not very appropriate for the A-class as the boat lacks righting moment due to its limited width. The flying Phantom is an F18 with extra wide beams and the C-class is 4,27m wide.

The manufacturers work hard to make new foils retrofit-able to older models which is a good thing. This way flying is a step in the evolution of the A-cat and is not the revolution it seems to some. Once you have been flying though it is pretty hard to go back to an all Archimedean boat.

I will not unfortunately not be present at the Words but do feel who tension is building up amongst the top guys. Have fun and fly fast!
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