Apr 10, 2014

Back to the Olympic Arena: Q&A with Darren Bundock

All images Jesus Renedo www.jesusrenedo.com . Click images for slideshow.  | All being said about Bundy by now, so just go ahead and read this quite interesting Q&A on his return to the Olympic Class with Nina Curtis.
CSN: Second event on the Nacra 17 and already in the podium with the toughest fleet till date. How do you feel about the new Olympic Class now after being present in the last T medal at Beijing?
Darren Bundock: I like the new Olympic class and from the current fleet sizes (72 entries in Palma & 82 registered for Hyeres) it is working. The boat is fun and its exciting, especially downwind. For me I'm just enjoying racing again and having fun after the Americas Cup. Olympic sailing is where the real racing is.

There are a few boats that are sailing really well and I guess after 12-18months in the class they should be. Billy and Marie (FRA) were the stand outs on how they sailed & then Vittorio & Silvia (ITA), Thomas & Tanja (AUT), Iker & Tara(ESP) & Matais & Natalie (SUI) are clearly the fastest boats on the race track. These boats are setting the standard and we are currently far from their level just yet. We have some work to do.

It is evident that the class, rules and enforcement has a long way to develop compared to the Tornado to handle the pressures as the Olympics approach but this should develop with time, I feel this is the biggest hurdle for the class right now. The class also needs to consider how to handle the fleet sizes if ISAF insists on split fleets as the system used in Palma is not the fairest and once qualification is over Silver fleet get shafted with the race schedule and conditions. This won't encourage the participation and big fleets for long. I feel the F18 four fleet round robin system is much fairer and way more efficient on the trapezoid course.

I am getting the feeling I am representing the older generation with a lot of the Tornado fleet now on coach boats. I remember when my original crew and I was referred to as the kids in the Tornado class when we first started campaigning.

The mixed sailing seems to be working and the boat park is much easier on the eye than the old Tornado boat park.

- How about the boat itself? You wrote that you rather like it.
I think the boat is ideal for what ISAF is trying to achieve and that being mixed sailing. It is a challenging, modern and as we saw from the images from Palma quite spectacular. I am quite impressed with the boat and find it a lot of fun to sail and its easy to get around on shore. I am loving the double trapeze downwind and the boat feels very fast. I don't think anyone is getting the most out of the boat just yet. From the short period I have spent in the class there seems to be so many different modes to sail the boat and it is important to be changing gears as the breeze changes and also the water state. The curve boards are for sure the feature that makes this boat and and with the addition of some small lifting T rudders the boat would have be amazing.

- Is the N17 setup sensitive to min changes, and how is compared to the T ones in terms of fine tuning and getting diff performance results.
The Tornado and the Nacra 17 are two completely different boats.
The Tornado was half a meter longer so greater waterline length, 40cm more width and righting moment making the platform more stable. The Tornado had a more tear drop mast section so the mast rotation is not so critical. The T was 30kg heavier and the main difference is the very inefficient centreboards compared to the longer curved lifting daggerboards of the 17.
Don't get me wrong I loved sailing the Tornado and miss it but the 17 is

a sports car compared to the old Cadillac.

In my view the Tornado was much easier to sail and keep in the groove and has a very easy rig to setup. I use to love sailing the Tornado and I really appreciate the feeling of the Tornado when it was locked in upwind. The Nacra 17 I would compare more with the A-Class with regards to rig setup and feel of the boat.

-It is possible in the future for the boat to support an Open crew in your view?
I think the crew weight will be the limiting factor it already seems there is a very limited crew weight range.

- Are you working the mainsheet in the upwind legs?
Generally no, once we are comfortably double trapeze, Nina is working the mainsheet. Its much more efficient with the crew sheeting with 2 arms. In the early stages I have been holding the mainsheet over 20knots until we get comfortable with the waves and the conditions.

- How the boat handles in the breeze , videos look scary for some crews, like some automatic picths in the offset mark bareaways. 
I think time in the boat will fix this, for me I find the Nacra 17 as one of the easiest boats to bear away. It has everything working for it. It has very buoyant flat bottom hulls/bows and lifting foils. I'm more concerned about doing a wheelie and rolling over sideways. Its all technique.

- How about the vmg on the double trap, can that mode be adopted on the F18s for instance in the breeze?
Its all about building your apparent wind and getting the most out of the lifting foils and reducing the wetted surface area and drag. Im afraid we wont see the F18 consistently making gains double trapeze until they allow lifting boards. I'm sure it does work in a very limited conditions now getting over waves when the swell is at a different angle to the breeze.

- How Nina has adapted herself to race Multis , and specially in the breeze, results are there but how about the process?
Last year Nina sailed on the 49erFX so she gained plenty of capsizing practise and trapezing too. I think that toughened her up and got her used to a bit of speed. She is loving being on the Multi's and nearly every day after we come in she is heard saying "that was the best day ever". I guess if you sailed in large heavy monohulls all your life then your easily pleased. Nina is the one pushing and not afraid of the capsizes. We had a few of them in AUS. I had in my head that a foiling gybe from trap to trap was possible and we did plenty of swimming that day. No doubt her learning curve for multis is very steep right now but so is mine figuring out the subtleties of this boat.

- You said you need lots of things to improve , which are those areas beyond is clear you have less hours than others in the class.
Yes, we were pleased with the result in Palma but we were very rusty which is no surprise as since Miami Nina was in AUS and I had been in Lanzarote with the family as Carolijn prepares for the Volvo Ocean Race with Team SCA. We had a week of training before Palma which we improved greatly once we saw how the other teams were sailing in different conditions. I feel we are no where near our potential. We spent Palma working on techniques & learning the boat & not focusing on speed and changing rig setup, we kept it real simple. Actually I spent more time working on my trailer than the boat. The saving factor for us was that we had a full variety of conditions and I could rely on my general multihull skills. We generally kept it up the right way and posted some consistent results, nothing special. We were not setting the world on fire & I would not say we were quick at all in most conditions. We have come away from Palma with a long list of what we think should be fast in different conditions from comparing the rigs of the fast guys to our base setup (Nacra tuning guide). Now the fun begins.

- Next events for 2014?
Hyeres 19-26 April
Team Race Knockout 17 May
Medemblik 20-24 May
Nacra 17 Europeans 5-12 July
Rio Test Event 3-9 August
ISAF Worlds 8-21 September
ISAF World Cup Final - Abu Dhabi
Sail Melbourne 7-14 December

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