Dec 31, 2016

2016: A Great Year in Review

All photos copyright labeld in each photo watermark. Sailing Energy, Capizzano, Morels, van der Borch, Orsini , Kleijweg  and World Match Racing Tour. Click images for larger size & Slideshow.
I wrote at the beginning of the year that 2016 was going to be a great year, and it resulted even better than expected. A new baby, this time a girl born in June , the Argentine flag at the top at Rio and a ten year project , the local F18 Class, reaching its pinnacle in November with the crown going for two great local kids, Pablo Volker & Juan Martín Benitez was a perfect ending for the biggest & toughest project I've embarked in my 44 yrs.
It was also the most rewarding and a team effort of the entire Argentine F18 Assoc members.

The F18 has seen its glory days in the past and now will remain as a performance class anyone can enter & enjoy. Focus and development has moved on to other classes and projects, but the F18 is now the most leveled field of the beachcat Formula racing classes.

Until 2013 the As had the same even scenario until Mischa went flying while racing circa 2013, those first steps were taken to the next step by Ashby / Team New Zealand and Outteridge/Exploder in Takapuna 2014 Worlds.

Already in 2015 the flight performance discussion was over and this year we saw the first A-Cat
platform designed and aero optimized for flying. The Dna F1 is truly a breakthrough in boat design and together with Mischa Heemskerk title at Medemblik a well deserve CSN Boat of the Year.

In the Olympic arena, the downside of the season was the Billy Besson back injury, which left him handicapped to compete in Rio with Marie Riou at their usual top level.
To balance that sad story, the Catamarann racing community delivered another story that could have gone to the sad hospital ways when Santiago Lange had a serious lung removal surgery addressing a tough cancer that was developing internally and behind it.

That surgery came before 2015 year's end, so close to Rio that many we thought and tell Santi to put the pedal down and focus on health. Of course he had other plans and the rest is now history. Not before delivering a Hollywood film ending on the racing course, drama all over the place for the Argentine sailor together with Ceci Carranza, the original driving force for Lange to aim for a new campaign to finally grab Gold after three attempts and 2 bronze medals in past Tornado campaigns.

'Grandpa' Lange is surely the highlight story of sailing this year and some said also of the entire Olympics.

Nacra 17 MKII
In terms of the Nacra 17 performance analysis, we saw how the Olympic sailors maximized the original package and even achieved full foiling downwinds. In the process the Nacra 17 was literally teared apart, but in delivered in the end a great show being the most exiting Class of the Olympics. Watch the Medal Race again here

This unexpected technique development plus the A-Cat foiling path, together with the initial success of the production double handed foilers like the Flying Phantom & Nacra  F20FCS, the GC32 and the Americas Cup ended with Sailing governing body modifying the Nacra 17 Class rules to allow a totally new platform for full foiling rides towards Tokyo 2020.

For the MKII Initial tests have been an eyeopener in my view, specially upwind foiling vmg vs the N17 MKI. From what we could see the Nacra 17 has a more stable flight downwind, not even to speak on the upwind foil where they simply killed the floating version.
Something right now is not possible to do in the As for ie (upwind).

M32 World Match Racing Tour
The WRMT is now sailed in cats, and great one like the M32, but still have to point out (and also done by the sailors themselves) on the lack of tacking ability of the no jib platform. Being Match Race one would expect a boat that can react quickly, but the scenes of the M32 going backwards did no good to multis reputation, more when is quite simply solved adding a jib.
The good thing of the tour they went to windy venues and the sailors delivered great racing which was streamed live in a great promotional effort along the 1Million prize of the World Crown.

GC32s & FP
The 3pt foiling setup though continues to performs, undoubtedly on the GC32, which was adopted this year by the Extreme Series, after a successful launch of the GC32 Racing Tour in Europe. This original tour will continue to growth in 2017, with the informed addition of an Argentine team (formed out F18 sailors) and also Iker Martinez will be part of the show. 2016 circuit crown went to Fracnk Cammas / Norauto, an effort of Americas Cup Team France to keep their crews in shape towards Bermuda.

Also in the beachcat racing foiling Classes aside from the devels and evolution of the As, the 3pt Foil  Flying Phantom Series were the only to caught up a real circuit with interesting numbers of participants. This success led the Extreme Series to hold FP Series along their European Tours.

Aside from racing your double handed foiler in long distance regattas, the only alternative right now for a established racing is the FP Series.

Americas Cup
In the Americas Cup, all being said on the lack of coverage and streaming for the AC45 World Series. Doing some speed runs in front of the crowd in NY was the reasonable thing to do, instead of holding lame racing against the current and no wind between the highest buildings you can find.
In terms of design, not much expectations this time around, finally wings and platforms are OD built and even the boards/foils placement is restricted, leaving little place for the team to innovate.

The evolution has come though with 100% foiling , adding full foiling upwind and with the teams completing foiling tacks, the first one recorded and published by Team Sofbank Japan.
Who might win the cup in this scenario is an unknown, and it seems this time around will depend on the crews / helm coordination, which in the end is a great thing, if you spare that the AC has been the place for sailing design & built innovation since day 1.

Recreational Foiling
In the recreational market the wand system foilers are getting a grip as an alternative to the skills required to foil and F20 or FP.   The Stunt 9, Whisper and IFly are well developed toys and have shown you can foil without much hassle, which is a niche of the market that needs to be served.

Z Foil / 4pt Foiling Setup
The 4pt foiling setup (4 foils down vs TNZ 3 foils down system) is the new game in town, and was established in place by the A-Class.
Personally I keep betting on the A-Class Z 4pt system as the future defacto setup, and latest devels show a more easy ride and stable flights without the hours needed 2 years ago are now possible.
The Phantom Essentiel is a proof of the 4p system development status, as this version is clearly aimed to get a more comfortable and easy flight than the Flying Phantom racing weapon version.

The daggercase being moved forward is one of the reasons of this improvement on simplify the foil learning process along a well refined Z foil devel from several A-Cat builders like Dna, Exploder & Scheurer, plus the R&D done by Morrelli & Melvin to adapt it to the Nacra 17 MKII.

Thomas Coville / Sodebo round the World Record
This was a few days ago, read the incredible record done by this crazy and great sailor here & here

-2017 Projects-

F18 Convertible
For 2017 my new project is for  Jakub Kopylowicz  to built a convertible F18 platform. Which is simply a 100% legal F18 hull , the original F18OP one now being built as the Exploder Scorpion , but adding special reinforcement and a daggercase that will fit legal straight F18 boards but also a set of Z foils. All this done from factory , as Morrelli & Melvin along Nacra envisioned for the Nacra 15.

The goal of this project is to have 1 boat for all purposes without breaking your bank account, a brand new F18 costs 20k plus vat,  we have reduced that greatly with the Exploder F18,  and a doublehanded foiler costs +30 to 40k. The Essentiel now reaches the +20k range as an excellent alternative but you cannot race on an established class for the moment...

Thus having the chance to race F18 and changing boards to go for some flights , on a boat prepared from factory to do such a thing, it is really an exciting project and I hope we can make it a reality soon enough.

A-Class Open Project
In parallel I will launch officially the A-Class Open Project. Similar to the F18 OP the idea is to bring costs down. I think is a good time to launch it now, as R&D is now focused on foils, with older platforms being retrofitted with great success the idea of having a design you can built your own and fit later with proven foils from Exploder, Dna , Scheurer or any other will bring back the custom built legacy of the class.

Legacy which is quite alive, as Matt Struble and Lars Guck have shown in the 2016 North Americans, placing 1st and 2nd rescpectively whith their own built platforms. Matt with Dna foils , and Lars Guck with custom ones.

I will also aim to design a working custom Z foil with the public available airfoil sections. More on the project next week .

F18 Open Project a reality
As you see much work to be done again, to finish this year summary , aside from the satisfaction of the stories above, seeing the F18 Open Project become a reality thanks to Jakub Kopylowicz / Exploder is an immense sense of achievement, having Mischa racing it at Kiel 2015, and my friends Agustin & Billy taking the project as their own racing it at the F18 Worlds in BA was a sign of mission accomplished.  Wait more riders to join the Scorpion for 2017, a  great teams is being prepared towards Denmark 2017.

I'm always thanking and naming many, but in the end all the hours put in projects like the F18 Class , the F18OP, the new ones coming and the hours sailing and foiling , are only possible cause I have the support of my great wife Constanza, it is not only a conceptual support, or taking care of the kids and running the home but basically I'm able to live out of cats on her working too. I'm quite lucky on having her around and I thanks God on allowing me to have such a wonderful family and doing what I like , not many can do it, so I feel quite privileged too.
Doing what you love has no price and cannot be bought, less all the good vibes we had this year at the F18 Worlds at home. Really proud of what this group of sailors achieved from scratch ten years ago.

Hopefully having many active years left , we should all pursue for more great goals. We'll have plenty of time for staying still after passing to a better life..!

Wishing you all the best  for 2017, and keep sailing, floating or foiling!