Jul 4, 2014

Texel 2014: Report by Peter Vink

Images: Sander van der Borch. Peter Vink was the Nacra partner more involved with the N20 FCS.  So involved that he decided to race it himself in a rather critical event like the biggest cat race in the World: The Round Texel 2014. Mischa de Munck, an experienced F18 sailor joined him for the flying ride.
The N20 FCS didn´t have much exposure before this race, but winning the Round, plus some excellent images from Sander van der Borch made Nacra to sell 25 boats right there on the beach & after the race, as I've been told.

Morrelli & Melvin behind the project is a reassurance , with Fer van West putting lots of hours too. Check Fer technical interview on the FCS project at catsailingnews.com/2014/04/nacra-f20c-fcs-interview-with-ferdinand.html

But as remarked with the FP too, costumer service will be key for both projects. We are experiencing a new Era in Catsailing and it is a real Extreme one, this is not 4-5 knots 'stadium' racing. This is full on airborne long distance raids like Carnac or Texel, and I think a dedicated race should be organized for the new foilers, say a CSN Challenge ??
More flying boats are coming ...  Meanwhile read Peter Vink complete report from their win at the 2014 Round Texel
Report by Peter Vink : "Round Texel 2014 with the brand new Nacra F20 carbon FCS"

After months of development and hard work we finally received the new main foils on Tuesday afternoon before the Round Texel. The new foils where the last parts needed to complete the first official production model of the Nacra F20 Carbon VCS.

On Wednesday we decided to go to the Haringvliet which is a nice lake in the south of Holland to give us the hard needed training hours on this awesome machine. After one afternoon of sailing which started with a heart rate off 190 and finished with a relaxed crew, who could not get the smile of our faces, it was off to Texel the next day. 

 Unfortunately the wind was not strong enough to give us some more sailing hours on the boat. With the hours we had on the lake we were more than confident enough to sail her around Texel and go for line honours. The next morning we arrived on the beach under beautifully sailing conditions (10 to 12 knots with 1 meter waves). Below a report of the Round Texel race and how we experienced it.

Start to Lighthouse:
Our strategy was to start with clean air, just above the big group at the low end of the starting line. This all worked well with a good start and we had the boat immediately on her foils, sailing without spinnaker, blasting away from the rest of the boats. Edward and Mischa sailing the modified M20 just above us and Benjamin and Amiot sailing the FP above the M20, all having a good start. I can't overestimate the fun and excitement of having these foiling boats around you. 

 Being in a learning curve to sail a boat like this in waves
, we didn´t have a constant boat speed in the beginning, which resulted in Xander and Stefan, sailing a standard Nacra F20 Carbon, managed to stay close. About one third of the run towards the first gate we found out that we had to lean in a bit more coming out of patches of wind. After this we were able to keep the speed constantly around 24 knots and our angle as lowest of the fleet, to extent quickly from Xander Pols and Stefan Dubbeldam just behind us. We lead the fleet at the first gate at the lighthouse with Xander and Stephan on our tale and the FP together with Eduard and Mischa just behind them.

Lighthouse to VC mark:
We extended our lead on the Nacra F20 carbon and the FP on the 5.2 NM reach to the VC mark. About 2 NM before the VC mark we slowed down to pull up our foils and rudders to sail the shallow waters around the VC mark. After a while, sailing in a slow mode we were overtaken by the Nacra F20 carbon and the FP. 

Xander and Stefan pulled up their foils just in front of us and also started to sail in a slow mode. We both sailed carefully through these shallow waters, keeping the boat to around 10-16 knots speed. The FP took a big risk by staying in full foiling mode, in not more than 1 meter deep water, to the VC mark leading the fleet at that time. Surprisingly, they managed to sail to the VC mark without hitting the ground. At the VC mark they needed to go upwind, the boat dropped down and hit the ground when sailing upwind. We quickly closed the gap between us and the FP and started our upwind leg, with Xander and Stefan leading the fleet, sailing together with the FP back to back sailing upwind with the rudders and foils up.

VC mark to MG-H mark
After 1.5 NM we were in deep water again and put down our foils and rudders. We were extending from the FP in the upwind easily, for us this proved that our efforts to bring additional upwind speed and angle to the Nacra F20 proved to have worked well with the FCS system and design. After a while we didn’t see them anymore. 

We now had a new learning curve, because this was the first time we actually sailed against the fastest production boat, the standard Nacra F20 carbon, in a 12 NM upwind leg. In the beginning the standard Nacra F20 carbons where clearly faster than us and Xander and Stephan extended their lead on us. Oscar and Alex, sailing an Nacra F20 carbon, coming from behind and overtook us as well. After about 3 NM we managed to have the same speed as the standard Nacra F20 carbons. 

At that time Sascha and Dennis, with their Nacra F20 carbon, where close to us, so we could use them as a benchmark to find a better sailing mode. After a while of battling with Sascha and Dennis we lowered the boards more and more whereupon we managed to pull away with better boat speed and angle in foiling mode and subsequently where able to reduce the lead of the 2 leading F20 carbons Oscar and Alex and Xander and Stefan .

Mischa and Eduard managed to come in front of us, by making a long run to the mainland, which paid off really well for them. They were just in front of us at mark MG-H at the far south end of the island.

MG-H mark to Finish.
Here we had a reach on the south side of the island which slowly went over in a downwind of 6 NM. The first 3 NM was full reaching with super stable flight. 

This was the most amazing experience we ever had. We didn’t touch the water at all and where incredibly fast compared to all boats around us. Clearly we were getting better and better sailing this awesome machine. Going so much faster and fly above the water is a mind-blowing experience. The last 3 NM was downwind in waves, where we also found a much better mode than just after the start of the race. Stable surfing the waves, we extended our lead to the finish where we took the line honours of the 2014 Round Texel.

For Mischa de Munck and me it was the coolest sailing experience we ever had. It was also super successful for Nacra and Performance Sails. The Nacra F20 carbon FCS had line honours, the next 2 boats in were Nacra F20 carbons. We had the first 3 overall prices, the first 3 in the formula 18 and the first 2 in the formula 16. Not bad in such a big event.

Sailing around the island of Texel is a great experience. Not only it is great sailing, this event is also well organized with a laid back beach style atmosphere. Again, they did a great job organizing this event smoothly, so a big thanks for the sponsors and all the people behind the Round Texel. It is absolutely a don’t miss event. So set your start watches for 6th of June 2015.
We have tried to make a boat which is incredibly fast and profoundly easy to sail. We are very excited having felt that we have achieved that goal using the full technological potential available in the sport of sailing."

Peter Vink