Boats & Gear

SAILING ON FOILS: Will the Latest Racing Technology Divide Our Sport?

Foiling cats

I was just stoking the antique coal-fired bunkers in my brain getting ready to write something about foiling sailboats, when I got a query from a Red Bull flack asking if I could help get the word out about their Red Bull Foiling Generation competition. Which actually is a very cool program: they are inviting young racing sailors born between 1996-99 to apply for special training with Olympic gold medalists to learn how to sail and compete in foiling 18-foot Flying Phantom catamarans (see image up top) in two Red Bull events to be held in Newport from October 11-23. Individuals or teams of two have until July 15 to submit an application to participate. (Follow this link here to throw your hat in the ring.)

Think about that for a moment. This is a major commercial sponsor of top-flight sporting events around the world (including Formula One racing and MotoGP) spending precious coin not only to promote racing on foils, but more particularly to create a talent pool of foiling sailors here in the United States, a nation where sponsorship for any sort of sailing has historically been very hard to come by. This, as much as anything else, makes it clear how hydrofoiling technology is transforming sailboat racing.

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POWER-SAILERS: When Is a Sailboat Not a Sailboat?

Nuva under power

It’s hard to believe, but there just might be enough of these atrocities now that they qualify as a boat type unto themselves. They’re not really motor-sailers, which have displacement hulls and are rather slow under power. Instead I’ve come to refer to them as power-sailers: powerboats with big outboard engines and planing hulls that can also be sailed. The latest entry into this weird niche market is the new Nuva MS6 out of Barcelona, Spain. It’s got a carbon-fiber rig, a modern square-top mainsail, a retractable bulb keel, and a plumb bow, all of which makes it very much “of the moment” as a sailboat. Or you can leave the rig off altogether and just use it as a trendy-looking runabout.

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SAILBOAT PROPELLERS: Damned If They're There; Damned If They're Not

Boat hauled

Though they seem like very simple devices, propellers are in fact quite complicated. More often than you’d expect, problems with a boat’s performance under power can be traced to poor propeller selection. To drive a boat well a prop must be properly matched to whatever engine and transmission is turning it, and numerous variables--the engine’s horsepower, its operating and maximum potential rpm and shaft speed, the boat’s speed potential, and the dimensions and specifications of the prop itself--must be balanced against each other to achieve good performance over the broadest range of circumstances.

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BOREAL 44/47: A Bulletproof Aluminum Centerboard Cruiser for High and Low Latitudes

Boreal sailing

It says something of the nature of these boats that my initial correspondence with Jean-François Eeman (see photo up top), managing director of Boréal Yachts, regarding a visit to their yard, was interrupted for a month while he and his family took off on a cruise to Antarctica. On a Boréal, of course. Indeed, Eeman’s boat was the first Boréal 44 ever built, the ultimate product of a chance encounter on a dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, between Eeman and another Jean-François, surname Delvoye, a designer and builder with many bluewater miles under his belt who had long been nursing an idea for an ideal cruising vessel.

The basic concept here is not at all unusual. Aluminum bluewater centerboard boats, though not often found in North America, have long been a staple of the French cruising scene. Major French builders Garcia and Alubat have focused primarily on boats like this for decades, and several smaller builders have followed in their wake. Boréal, barely ten years old, is the rising star on the scene, thanks to a focus on build quality that rivals that of the early Garcias and also to some unique design features that take the concept to a new level.

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MAINE CAT 41: A Fast But Sensible Open-Bridgedeck Cruising Cat

MC 41

This mid-size cruising catamaran inhabits the middle ground between truly high-performance open-bridgedeck cats with very limited accommodations and little or no on-deck shelter and bulkier, more unwieldy cats with enclosed bridgedeck saloons and palatial accommodations. Its most distinctive feature is a permanently mounted hardtop roof supported by aluminum posts that shelters all of the otherwise open bridgedeck area abaft the mast. If desired the bridgedeck can be fully enclosed by deploying flexible transparent acrylic side-curtains.

This concept was first introduced by designer/builder Dick Vermeulen when he launched his first boat, the smaller Maine Cat 30, back in 1996. The 30-footer has proven quite successful, but is a bit too small and cramped for extended cruising. The 41, first introduced in 2004, redresses this deficiency and has also been successful.

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MODERN TWIN-HEADSAIL RIGS: Simbo Sailing and the Dutchmar Zoom Boom

Simbo Rig

The concept of the twin-headsail rig, where two jibs are set flying side by side, was first propagated back in the 1950s by bluewater sailors who wanted an easy-to-manage rig for sailing deep downwind angles on tradewind passages. The idea has been revived of late, first by an acquaintance of mine, Iain Simpson, who updated the concept for modern roller-furling systems and employs it on his Najad 570 Song of the Ocean. He is quite keen on it and has been proselytizing on the subject for a few years now on his website.

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BENETEAU FIRST 38: An Early Modern Euro Cruiser

First 38 under sail

The French firm Beneteau was formed in 1884 as a builder of wooden fishing boats and switched to building fiberglass recreational vessels in 1964. They first started building sailboats in 1972 and today claim to be the largest boatbuilder in the world. Beneteau’s First series of performance cruising sailboats was introduced in 1979 and quickly blossomed to include this boat, which was branded as the First 38 because it measures 38 feet on deck, though in fact it is 40 feet long overall.

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SUPER GOOFY SAILBOATS: Foggy, Sailing Yacht A, Surfari 44

Foggy

‘Tis the season to hand out boat awards in the sailing industry. We’ve already seen SAIL’s Best Boats picks and are eagerly awaiting the opinionations of Cruising World and Sailing World re their Boats of the Year. But these competitions are for the most part restricted to common production boats, and the truly interesting (i.e., totally wacky) new sailboats, usually built for over-the-top rich people with more money than sense, never get considered. So I thought we here at WaveTrain should conduct our own survey of the scene.

Our first nominee, Foggy (see photo up top), designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry (the boat’s name derives from his initials) in collaboration with German Frers, is a one-off custom boat that got a lot of attention when it was launched at Brooklin Boatyard earlier this year. Gehry has always been an avid sailor and normally sails a Beneteau First 44.7 out of Marina del Rey, so he does have some idea of how a sailboat is supposed to function.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT GROUND TACKLE: Chain Versus Rope Rode

Anchoring

Many cruisers believe an all-chain anchor rode is always superior to rope rode. Chain is stronger and much more chafe resistant than rope, but you can still do some serious anchoring on rope alone. With rope you do need to be more security conscious and must always check for chafe. If there is coral on the bottom, this means diving on the rode on a regular basis. You should also be much quicker to set a second anchor, not only as insurance when conditions get strong, but also to keep your boat from swinging around too much.

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