May 6, 2013

Flying Phantom update : Elevated State of Mind

Groupama Sailing Team is still supporting Franck Cammas campaign, and they are achieving something not done before, flying a "beachcat" consistently and aimed for  Course Racing, testing performance with real proven racers like the Marstrom M20.

This is an interesting preview of things to come, pushed by the Americas Cup developments. But can this reach mainstream at reasonable costs? Can this conf be faster in every condition than a non foiling machine like the M20 or F20c? That is the real question, although in the AC has been already answered with Artemis failing in the 'floating' mode, much still to be done in the 'beachcat' world.

Nevertheless these kind of developments are the ones building the future of sailing. Beyond any viability and cost analysis that belong to a different discussion, I like catamaran sailing the most on the 'flying'  feeling I get while speeding, specially downwind, and that great sensation is par with the joy I experience while Surfing, Windsurfing or Snowboarding in powder ... so being able to literally fly is going to be for sure an even greater & elevated State of Mind.

All images Pierrick Contin / Sail Innovation. Click for HQ, more at CSN FB
Report sent by Alex Udin -- Flying Phantom Updates
After 6 months of collaboration with Groupama Sailing Team, the development of the Flying Phantom is progressing well, we are still working hard to get the boat stable and fast while foiling but also competitive in the light air especially upwind.

Cammas Collaboration
It's been great to have all the technical resources from Groupama Sailing team, we are working in close collaboration with some of the most renown architects in the world like Guillaume Verdier, Benjamin Muyl and Martin Fischer. We have the opportunity to be very reactive in terms of development, Franck is doing most the testing session on the water with a support team on the rib. Louis Viat who is crewing for Franck is in charge of the Phantom project at Groupama, he is collecting all the information after each session and organizing everything before the boat enters the base to prepare new set ups and modifications with the shore team. The team work is very efficient.

We are testing a lot of different foil configurations, they are very similar to what the AC72 use but they are adapted to a small boat that requires more stability than these large catamaran due to the size of the waves in relation with the size of the boat. We have already tested four generation of different foil designs from Martin Fischer but also from Guillaume Verdier, we are learning a lot and we still make big improvements.

The boat is not just a modified F18 but it is entirely designed to foil, the only common part is the shape of the hulls.
Lenght: 5,52m / 18"
Width: 3,00m
Mast: 9,5m / Carbon autoclaved
Weight: 150kg
Hulls construction: PVC sandwich, carbon fiber, epoxy
Main area: 18sqm with mast
Jib area: 5sqm
Gennaker area: 24sqm

Speed against other racing boats
As soon as you have enough wind to fly a hull in 6 knots of True Wind Speed, the boat is faster upwind and downwind than an F18, the boat takes off downwind at 10 knots of TWS and then is much faster than most of the beach cats. We did some speed testing against a Vampire Marstrom 20 (3,5m wide) and the Phantom is faster downwind as soon as it foils and very similar upwind in 15knots of TWS.

Max Speed
We have actually reached 27 knots in 18 knots of TWS without kite and no one trapezing , we are actually working to improve the control of the steering which is clearly the limit to go faster. We believe we could achieve between 30 and 35 knots while we will have improved the stability of the boat.

Goal of the project and production alternatives
The target is to be able to produce a real production boat for next year, we are still doing some development on the foils and we try to make the systems as simple as possible in order to get a boat usable by most of the club sailors. We believe the new generation of foiling cats could attract more people to cat sailing, like the parabolic ski did 10 years ago. All sailors who sailed the boat are extremely enthusiastic, flying above the water brings incredible new sensations and although not requiring any specific skills.

The target price is to be only slightly more expensive than an F18 by having a fully industrialized product and selling direct. We hope the boat will be around 25 000 Euros ex tax.

The F18 class clearly does not wish to allow foils and lighter boats, we are actually analyzing the different options for creating a new foiling class. It could be a One Design class or a box rule with different boat builders like the F18. One of our main concern is to keep the cost reasonable but also allow some development in order to keep the boat updated and modern.

I would like to thank Franck Cammas and his team especially Louis Viat for being so committed to this challenging project. It is fantastic to work together, we are acquiring a lots of experience, without their support this development would have probably taken several years to succeed. 


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