Jan 16, 2019

Convertible or dedicated foiler? Alex Udin's view

Above: Latest FP Essentiel video featuring its new hulls. - Phantom International has contacted us to chat about the Convertible F18 concept vs their own series of production specialized Flying
Phantom foilers. We've been discussing with Alex on the convertible concept since I announced it as an idea and now Phantom International is willing to openly discuss both alternatives.

Alex Udin has been pioneer along Martin Fischer, on launching the racing foiling cats concept, even before Team NZ Americas Cup breakthrough. The original Flying Phantom  was thought as an Olympic flying cat together with the launch of Phantom F18 project, thus the FP has a strong F18 heritage , utilizing same hulls on its original version.

Later Phantom International launched a more recreational version of the FP, the Essentiel which is basically an F18 platform. (see comparison table in QA below)

The Essentiel has shown it flies pretty good and it's an excellent alternative for those wanting a more relaxed double handed foiling platform while spending less than the fully fledged FP or coming FP Ultimate.

To be able to fly and In contrast to the Essentiel, an F18 Convertible will need to feature a bullet double purpose dagger case in terms of water tight and main foil placement/bottom exit. This multi purpose dagger case is still to be proven in F18 legal racing. Plus the owner will need to acquire an additional set of foils/rudders/castings.

Cirrus, Nacra and Goodall Design have embraced our F18 Convertible concept, and Goodall has also launched several versions of their Viper F16.

Convertible Concept
The F18 convertible concept is aimed for recreational foiling a la Essentiel , and totally separated to any F18 legal racing. 

If F18 builders make their new platforms fitted to race proper F18 regattas and also achieve them to fly (with due additional equipment noted above) without spending on another complete separate boat , it will become an excellent platform for both programs for those wanting to race on an established competitive fleet and foil for fun. Till now you needed two boats, a goal that is not at reach for the majority of the sailors world wide.

Buying an F18 Convertible legal cat plus the necessary set of foils, rudders and equipment to make an F18 Convertible platform to foil will always be way cheaper than buying an F18 plus an Essentiel.

F18 Convertible vs Dedicated Foiler, quick QA with Alex Udin

- CSN: Given that a dedicated foiler will have some degree of advantage over an F18 convertible in the foiling aspect (lets give the F18 builders a chance to demonstrate also their solutions) , and your will to openly discuss our F18 Convertible concept alternative to dedicated foilers like your FP Essentiel/Elite/Ultimate, which are your thoughts / concerns on the matter? It might affect Essentiel sales? Which is Phantom International reason for not launching a convertible F18 ?

Alex Udin: "I will address my view based on the features of our boats.
We have been pioneer in foiling cats, we started in the early days almost 7 years with a modified F18 with the idea of a possible convertible boat. We quickly realized that if you want to make an proper foiling boat you cannot just swap the board for foils and rudders for T's or L. You have to re-design to boat and the rig in this way.

The Flying Phantom (Elite) was born with the idea of designing a fully foiling boat, according to our experience we believe that the compromises needed to make a convertible boat would not make a good foiling and also not a performing F18 platform.

If you have a close look at the FP Essentiel you will notice that there are many design features that are very different from a non foiling boat:

The hulls are slimmer (Editor's note: Original version was same Phantom F18 hull, current Essentiel hull are new brand ones) to reduce the weight and windage, they are reinforced with carbon on key spots like the foil cases and the transoms. The position of the boards and rudders are outward the center line which is prohibited in F18 but makes a considerable difference to control the handling of the boat.

The sails are also very different with more twist and a lower center of effort to reduce the heeling moment to keep the boat flat, regarding the spinnaker it almost impossible to foil properly downwind with a standard spinnaker which is much too full due to the apparent wind angle.

Last but not least, the side racks is a major milestone for handling and safety as you do not fall over board while you hell to windward.

We also would like to announce the creation of a New Class “Phantom International Class” with the “Essentiel” (aside of the “Ultimate” and “Elite Divisions). This division will allow all owners to compete with one design rules on formats such long-distance with a maximum of fun and experience sharing amongst pro’s (Pro am). This 100% foiling One design Class will be officially launched in February with races in France, Garda Lake (Italia) and Caribbean for 2019 and more international events in 2020".

- Do you agree that acquiring an F18 convertible platform + the foiling package will always be cheaper than buying a non convertible F18 plus an Essentiel?
Alex Udin: "Convertible F18 in their foiling set up (without F18 straight boards, rudders...) cost the same price as a FP Essentiel. If you want to sail in the F18 fleet, on top of that you will need to purchase a set of straight dagger boards, rudders with rudder casting, gudgeons and probably a spinnaker you would end up to a very expensive boat."

- Lets review main features of the Essentiel  specialized recreational foiler vs F18 Convertible platform 
Essentiel: 171kg, 2,55m width, 9,1mts alu Mast, Alu beams, Epoxy fiberglass and carbon reinforced
F18 legal platform: 173kg (min legal weight), 2,60m width, 9,1mts Alu mast, Alu beams, Epoxy full fiberglass. 

Alex comments on features above: "This F18 173kg is the minimum weight in the F18 set up (straight board and rudders, standard rudder head and gudgeons...) There almost no production boat coming at 173kg, most of them are minimum 180kg according to the measurement certificate. The additional weight carried by the foils, rudders, cassettes, gudgeons is around 8-10 kg which means an F18 in its foiling set up is around 190kg."
------------- Ends---------

CSN Final analysis
Dedicated Foiler vs F18 Convertible 
CSN take on F18 weight: 180kg is the current target that many F18 builders seek, as it is the range where no additional ballast has to be used and you can have a more solid platform if additional material / reinforcement (from 173kg to 180kg) is well placed and distributed, and all this coming from the polyester age.
Now with the convertible and Epoxy resin being allowed, builders will target the 173kg for F18 convertible platforms.

Dagger case placement:  I learnt to foil on an Exploder A14 and already outdated mainfoils, the A14 has a pretty backwards daggercase position, way behind behind shrouds. Latest A-Cats have a more forward placement and are quite more efficient, still I had some of the best sailing/foiling  rides on the A14.

Back in 2015 when Exploder launched the Scorpion F18 I opted to follow Martin Fischer's work on the Wildcat & Phantom F18:  In front of shrouds.
This daggercase placement has been proven to the max in F18 legal racing with 5 F18 World Titles: Wildcat 2010, Phantom 2012, Phantom 2016 , Scorpion 2017 & 2018 and provides a great daggercase placement for a possible convertible flight. Cirrus has similar position and now Nacra and Goodall design have followed suit for their MK3 & 2019 C2 version.

Dedicated foilers like the Essentiel , N17 and else have their cases a bit more forward (more effcient flight feature) but the distance between latest F18s is not that much compared to daggercase placement of an A14 vs a 2019 D3 A-Cat.

In the end the F18 convertible concept has yet to prove that works, dedicated foiling platform builders like Phantom and others should not worry much, more if we follow Alex comments (Exploder yard thinks alike on the F18 convertible concept) but lets give a chance to Cirrus, Nacra & Goodall Design on their convertible F18 versions.