A-Class: North Americans 2015 Crown for Matt Struble

All images Walter Cooper .Click for sideshow  & HQ --   Matt Struble (Exploder J/Z boards / Glaser) from San Diego, California, repeats his 2013 North American Title after winning 7 out of 10 races held at St Andrews Bay Yacht Club, Panama City, FL.
 2014 Champ, Bruce Mahoney finished 2nd (DNA 2015 Z boards/L rudders / Brewin),  Bailey White 3rd (Exploder J/Z boards / Brewin) and Woody Cope 4th (Nikita/Glaser)

- Official website & Full Image Gallery by Walter Cooper  at acatnorthamericans.com/photos/

- Full results & at acatnorthamericans.com/results/
- Official IACA Rule Clarification on US/CAN Assoc Rule 8 voting  at  a-cat.org

In 2013 Matt won with his own designed & built A-Cat. This time he was lent Ben Moon's Exploder.

It was first time on a foiling A for him, and the way he adapted was simply impressive as Bailey told us on Tuesday. 
In 2013 I contacted him after that year NAs to report about his boat and on the event.
I did the same on Friday and Matt kindly responded yesterday after reaching home from Florida.

Bailey White tells me Struble  is a great guy, surely a great sailor too, and added he will let Emmanuel Cerf (US Exploder importer) hold & the  perpetual trophy for Cerf to show for a year. 

I hope to see Matt with the US sailors at this 2015 Punta Ala Worlds.
 2015 Noth Americans complete & detailed report  by Matt Struble:

"First I have to thank a few people and company's:
Emmanuel Cerf and his family
Zhik sailing gear
Exploder Catamarans
Glaser Sails
Harken Sailing
Bailey White
Ben Moon
Woody Cope
My family

I arrived at St. Andrews Yacht Club in Panama City, Florida on Saturday morning after a red eye flight from San Diego, California. It is 9am and 90 degrees with 90 % humidity, ouch. Woody Cope was driving my borrowed boat to St. Andrews and arrived around 5:00 pm. The yacht club was a buzz with new boats, foils, sails and everything A Cats. It felt like I was coming home after being away for a couple of years, the people in the A Class are really interesting and fun.

My boat arrives and I go to work making a list of projects, all the usual items; rudder alignment, righting lines, trap bungees and a few larger items. The Exploder I was sailing originally had Z boards and was converted to the J/Z's. With all the crazy angles the boards go through to get into the down position, the exit at the bottom of the hull gets a little complicated. In this case, the boards at the exit were pushing directly on the outside skin of the hull and unfortunately was tearing it off. So right away before sunset, I drilled some holes and mixed some epoxy hoping to go for a sail the next day.

Sunday morning the epoxy is cured and I go to work, again hot and humid with no clouds in the sky. I go over the FiberFoam mast setup for the Glaser sail I will be using. Talking with Bob Hodges who is also sailing an Exploder, I set my mast rake and rudder angle the same as his. 

 Bob is very detailed and has put a lot of time on his Exploder foiling boat. In the afternoon
I go for a sail with Bruce Mahoney and a few others, I have a few issues and only sail for a about one hour. A new list is started; downhaul cleats, foot straps, rudder angle of attack, outhaul is slipping, etc..... This was my first day on a foil capable A cat, I had a few flights, but nothing too impressive with the current setup.

- Monday there were some practice races scheduled for the afternoon. With more changes to the boat, I headed out on the water. The biggest change I made was to add more AOA to the rudder horizontals, the day before the boat felt a bit squatty and needed more lift for steady flight. For the practice races, we had all of the players but Bruce opted to not sail and save himself for the real racing. Bob Hodges and Bailey were sailing fast and it gave me a chance to see how I was doing. We sailed two races and I was 1,2 respectfully. I learned a lot that day about the Exploder and made another list to work on that night.

- Tuesday was race day with three races scheduled to start at 12:30. Wind was 12-16 knots with smooth water. This was day three on the new boat and I was out of time for tuning up, it was race time. I really had no idea what to expect and was going to be very happy to be in the top five. First race, the PRO calls for a three lap course.

 I had a good start and was in the top five around the weather mark, stay on the wire, pull the board angle back and ease the traveler. The boat does not want to auto foil, but with some weight transfer, it takes off and accelerates. It was clear to me right away, the Exploder and the J/Z boards could sail lower and faster than the boats around me. I made my way down the course and rounded the gate in the lead. 

 I continued to sail two more good laps and won the race by three minutes over Bruce. This was the only three lap race of the regatta and what a way it was to start the event for my program. Two more races followed for the day with two more bullets. For my first day of A cat foil racing, it had gone really well.

- Wednesday had a little more wind with 15-18 knots and again smooth water. The first race started out with another win, but more challenging with a little more breeze. Foiling was no problem but changing directions was a technique that I could use some practice on. The next race Bruce was a head around the windward mark and I was getting close to him at the leeward gate. Bruce was on starboard and I was on port, trying to gybe inside Bruce did not go so well for me.

 Off the wire and on the boat, bear down in pressure and the bows dig in and the boat rotates broadside to the wind. I go for a swim and try to right the boat, as I pull on the righting line, the becket it was connected to on the beam rips off. Luckily it is an A cat and I use the downhaul line and right the boat and continue on. Go around the gate in about 7 or 8 place and I can see this regatta coming apart for me.

 The wind is now at the 18knot range and Bruce is in the lead and foiling down wind. I go around the weather mark and push hard on the foils. Foiling is such a great experience and allows you to sail much harder than before with control. I was close to picking off 6 of the 7 boats ahead of me, but had to settle for 4th at the finish. At that same time a large thunderstorm had developed on shore and the race committee sent the fleet in for the day. This was good for me, as I needed to sort out my boat and make repairs.

- Thursday was a lighter wind day in the 8 - 12knot range. The course was setup next to a shore line and this created a one way race track. Bruce sailed a great race and won the first race. I was able to win the next two races and allowed me to now drop the 4th place finish with a throw out. This day was most impressive to me for the A class, as we were foiling downwind in such light air. Really great fun and racing.

- Friday was planned for three races on the final day of the regatta. Though I had won a lot of races, Bruce could still win the regatta and on this day the wind was 0 - 7 knots, anything could happen. Sitting under postponement, I was hoping my lighter weight battens would help the foiler get around the course. The C board boats were smiling and hungry for a race when the foilers could not sail away downwind. The breeze came up and the race began in 5-7 knots of wind and a strong current.

 A difficult race track with sea breeze trying to overcome the gradient wind. I sailed up the middle and rounded the weather mark in second behind Bruce, Woody Cope was close behind on his Nikita. Soon Woody lead the race and sailed around the favored gate, Bruce split and I followed Bruce. Going up the right side, it was getting light and I tacked away. 

This was a good call and I moved ahead of both Woody and Bruce and held on for the win at the finish. Race two was very similar, but I had a better start and lead from start to finish. The wind was going down and the PRO sent us in to complete the 2015 North Americans.

Overall, the A class is more fun and exciting than ever. I really enjoyed sailing the new style of boat and appreciate all the help with the borrowed equipment. It is a great time to be a sailor.

Matt Struble.


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