Apr 20, 2010

Pete Melvin: The Guru and his 15 year old apprentice

Pete Melvin is on of the current multihull Guru designers, he is also one of the best beachcat racers around with some titles including an A-Class Worlds.
He was responsible for the now stablished Nacra Infusion, a 2x F18 world champ design that forced every other builder to renew theirs.

If I'm correct the Infusion is the oldest current F18 design of those new generation of post Capricorn wave piercers (Hobie Wildcat, AHPC C2, Loday-White Shockwave and Windrush Edge are all younger designs)
Pete is sailing with his son James, another 15 years old catsailing promise along with Taylor Reiss.
Together they´ve had an excellent performance is the 2009 F18 North Americans, and now they´ve qualified together for the next Alter Cup edition.
Below an insteresting excerpt on racing technique published in Nacrasailing.com

"James sailed Sabots in the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club sailing program and has access to many interesting sailboats, but only sails multihulls now. When asked why, James says definitively, “Because they are fast.”

Pete attributes their performance to a number of things, most notably his emphasis on keeping the boat powered up at all times in light winds, and their experimental foils.

“I like to fly the hull at a constant angle of heel and keep the forward speed and apparent wind speed up. A lot of multihull sailors make the mistake of pinching up in a puff but then not steering back down quickly enough as the wind drops back off. In light winds they end up sailing too high and dropping the hull back down into the water. It takes a lot of energy to build speed again. Anticipation and staying ahead of the changes in wind speed and direction are the keys. We keep the bow down and the boat going fast. I make constant rudder adjustments,” said Pete.

The F18 box rule allows for experimentation, and Pete and James have been testing high-aspect ratio daggerboards for the Nacra Infusion F18. Reasons Pete, “The heavier teams use the bigger boards because they require more lateral resistance. We’re light and don’t need as much area. When we pull our long narrow boards up in heavier air, the area that remains in the water still has a high aspect ratio compared to what the heavier teams have. We are experimenting with different shapes so we can optimize the new daggerboards we are designing for the Nacra Infusion F18.”
Pete and James clearly have a good time sailing together. Says Pete, “We’ll be sailing together for a while because James is growing like a weed.”


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