Jun 12, 2015

Australian Zhik A-Cat Winter Regatta, Bob Grifftis report: "A View From a Retrofitter / Weekend Warrior"

Image Bob Griffits at Takapuna World 2014. Bob has been maintaining us informed with fresh info from Australia with detailed reports on the Aussie / NZ scene (Takapuna Worlds 2014). His accounts are highly appreciated and every single one is being published at the IACA official web. Last report from the Zhik Winter Regatta can be found here.

I asked him about  current status in Australia with the Class and below is his additional personal view on retrofitting previous designs and the influence or Rule 8 in the that process.

I think retrofitting 'old' platforms is great news for any class, specially in the As. If change is approved after US/CAN/UK proposal the main benefit will be addressing Bob's concerns. but in my view current latest gen foils will be hard to beat around the Course in the whole racing wind range going from 5 to 25knots.

A TNZ/FP J will surely provide and edge in the mid range but I doubt right now it will become an all round performer in say 5knots or at the higher limit wind spectrum. F20 & FP do not fully foil upwind vmg for instance.
New devels will change that in the future, we'll see if US proposal has enough support to get through, I think this time around it will.
Bob Griffits view and below Zhik Winter Regatta Report (no pics / or full results available):
" Steve Brewin did sail a Nikita, which he has modified to take Exploder rudders and Z centreboards. He has sold his Exploder, and the Nikita is also soon to be delivered to a new owner in Tasmania. Probably the majority of foiling A Cats in Australia are retrofits . ( The list includes DNA's, Exploders, Nikita, Tool, and Flyers).

Steve Brewin will sail an Exploder at the 2015 Worlds in

Retrofitting the boats is a lot of work. The transoms and the area around the new centre cases have to be significantly strengthened as they both become areas of highly concentrated loads. The geometry of the centreboard alignment has to be accurate. Making the whole thing leak proof is also a challenge.

The centreboard cases have to be large and complex in shape to allow centreboards insertion from the top, and this means much more complex and larger structures which are much more difficult ( for the retrofitters at least) to make watertight. I think that Rule 8 should go for that reason alone.

There are still many hydrodynamic problems to solve for A class foiling. We still do not do it at all well to windward, and downwind we are still rather wobbly. In comparison, the International Moth Class, which shared the start line with us at the Wangi Regatta, looked as smooth as silk when they were on their foils.

- Australian Zhik Winter Regatta 2015
"The Australian Winter A Class Regatta was hosted by the Wangi Amateur Sailing Club, last weekend, on the waters of Lake Macquarie. Wangi is the home club of Olympic Gold Medallist, America's Cup helmsman and A Cat sailor, Nathan Outteridge.
Fourteen 14 A Cats from New South Wales and Victoria contested the event, a good fleet, but unfortunately we were unable to entice any sailors from the slightly warmer climes of Queensland to make the journey down south. Still the event did attract quite a contingent of Australia's top A Cat sailors, and the fleet was numerically stronger than the Moths, OK Dingy,49 ner's, or 29ner fleets.

Chris Cairns won the only heat sailed on the Saturday, quite remarkable considering that he started significantly late. Chris is an acknowledged light weather expert, and he made the most of the light weather ( more accurately "drifter"conditions), on his straight centreboard (or swords as Germans call them) trusty Tool design. The wind was terrible, but although we had to drift around in winter, at least we were able to do it in 20C of brilliant sunshine.
Sunday was a spectacular sailing day. 21degrees C of heat nicely complimented the 8 to 11 knot wind from the north west which came complete with some testing shifts and gentle gusts.

Steve Brewin was the star performer of the day, or well he would have been if the sail number on his boat matched the sail number on his entry entry form. The race officials apparently took a dim view of this, and he was not recognised as a competitor. As a result the four races in which he finished first across the line, did not count.
Brewin is the one who has so far best mastered the art of foiling. He went very well to windward, and was able to power away downwind. He sailed his Nikita to good effect, and tested both the Exploder Z 3 and 4 centreboard (swords) designs. His conclusion : no real performance difference between the two styles of boards.

The regatta was won by Scott Anderson, with Stuart Scott from Victoria coming second overall.
A special thanks to the Victorian contingent who made the 1000 km journey north. We trust you had a good time, and safe journey's .

Lake Macquarie will once again play host to the Australian A Class Championships in January 2016. As it will be quite literally outside the front door of James Spitthill, and just down the road from Nathan Outteridge, we hope to attract a field a sizeable field of the America's Cup contingent. More on that later."