Ben Saxton & Katie Dabson – photo c Didier Hillaire
Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte
Title contenders at the Nacra 17 World Championships in La Grande Motte in the South of France may be relishing what is expected to be a big winds Sunday finale, a chance to show the newly foiling, flying Nacra 17 at its best and most exciting, but they had to deal with a penultimate day of light, fickle and patchy winds as a precursor.
At the end of today’s three challenging Finals contests the British Sailing Team’s Ben Saxton and Nacra newcomer Katie Dabson lead by just four points of Spain’s 2008 Olympic Tornado gold medallist Fernando Echavarri and 2011 470 World Champion Tara Pacheco, while a strong 3,4,1 today from John Gimson and Anna Burnet sees thee British duo up to third, ten points behind the Spanish pair.
A brisk NW’ly Tramontane breeze is due to blow in off the Camargue’s salty steppes at up to 25kts by afternoon tomorrow. The schedule is for two more races, starting from 1000hrs, for the Gold fleet before the showdown Medal race. But this may be altered depending on the wind and sea state, the priorities being safe and fair racing and the arena style Medal race which is usually scheduled to be sailed on the inshore arena. If conditions permit it will be the first time the newly flying, foiling Nacra 17s have contested a single Medal Race.
Neither at the European Championships nor the Aarhus 2018 Sailing World Championships Test event did a single, showdown medal race take place. The British Sailing Team’s coach, 2000 Sydney Olympian Hugh Styles highlighted the excitement among the sailors, “It will be a great day. There are not so many chances you get to do something so different in Olympic sailing. It is very positive.”
“ We will see another new dimension of sailing here. It should be a great show. It is so exciting to be involved in this part of the sport at this early stage and it is all really developing fast. World Sailing has done a great job of embracing the opportunity to try something different. And all the sailors here are really relishing this opportunity. In some respects the outcome tomorrow is not so, so important. At the moment this is about learning and that is a very engaging thing.”
Up and Down Day Echavarri and Pacheco won the first of today’s races ahead of Saxton and Dabson but then, after the wind shifted from the NW into the SW for a shifty, difficult second race the Spanish duo plummeted to a 19th when US duo Riley Gibbs and Olympian Louisa Chafee triumphed with the British pair second again.
Britons Gimson and Burnet won the third race to get themselves into contention for the final day, the leaderboard holding some similarities going into the final day as there was one week ago at the 49er World Championships in Porto.
While World Ranked 1 Saxton, ninth in Rio, has been in the Nacra 17 pretty much since the mixed class debuted in March 2013 and was runner up to the Nacra 17 World title in 2013 in The Hague, Holland, world championship sailing is relatively new to Katie Dabson. Although she has known Saxton for many years and the pair grew up at the same sailing club, Grafham Water, she has only recently started sailing full time.
Together they won the last two breezy races when the chips were down at the Europeans to steal the bronze medal in Kiel. After racing today Dabson said, “It is still is a bit of a dream for me to be here and having been able to jump in the boat only in May with someone like Ben. He knows what he is doing. It is a steep learning curve but we seem to be getting there. I was in the 470 for about a year. We have known each other pretty much since we were born, well, certainly from Grafham Water Sailing Club where we grew up. He knows what the boat needs. He was someone to fit the boat. I have some height on some of the crews. It is useful to be able to get your weight further out and get foiling. “ Tomorrow will be a big day, pretty windy.” “ It will be nice to get out in some wind. Before this I was at university and so as soon as I went full time it was straight into the Nacra 17. This is my first introduction to Olympic sailing and big events. Externally maybe it looks OK but internally I am, like, ahhhh! But we have such good support here and at home, everyone is very aware that I have been thrown in at the deep end. That is very useful, they are very helpful and really on it.”
As predicted the title hunt remains wide open. Frustratingly for the leading pair a 19th in the final race spent a lot of the 15pts lead they had going into the third and last race of the day, and they have a U flag penalty as their discard. Dabson added, “We try not to think too much about the UFD because it could get to you. We are just treating each race as a race on its own, racing with what you have got.”
Italy’s European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti are fourth, 15pts off the lead and Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez with Olga Maslivets are fith, 17 pts behind the leaders. Maybe Martinez is cherishing memories of stealing the 2014 European title here on a windy final day and looking to create a repeat performance.
Gold fleet after 15 races and 2 discards
1 Ben SAXTON/Katie DABSON (GBR) 67pts
2 Fernando ECHAVARRI/Tara PACHECO (ESP) 71pts
3 John GIMSON/Anna BURNET (GBR) 81pts
4 Ruggero TITA/Caterina BANTI (ITA) 82pts
5 Iker MARTINEZ/Olga MASLIVETS (ESP) 84pts
6 Olivia MACKAY/Micah WILKINSON (NZL) 88pts
7 Moana VAIREAUX/Manon AUDINET (FRA) 93pts
8 Gemma JONES/Jason SAUNDERS (NZL) 95pts
9 Lin Ea CENHOLT/Christian Peter LUBECK (DEN) 95pts
10 Jason WATERHOUSE/Lisa DARMANIN (AUS) 99pts
Full results @ http://nacra17.org/events/2017-world-championship/
photos © Didier Hilliare
Day 4 – Nacra 17 Worlds at La Grande Motte
It is the Italian tricolour flying highest over La Grande Motte in the South of France after the first day of gold fleet racing at the Nacra 17 World Championships.
As the intensity of the first day of gold fleet Finals racing took full effect, compounded by there being only one way to go off the high octane start lines, several top seeds made mistakes, including black flag penalties some which may yet prove very costly.
As recently crowned European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti stepped two points clear at the top of the leaderboard, Italian teams won all three races. Tita and Banti finish the day two points ahead of Spanish rival pairs Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco and Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets who are just one point apart.
But with six races and Sunday’s medal race still to go, the 2017 championship is wide open, with just 10 points between the first seven crews, and top coaches and medal winning athletes alike expect this chase go down to the wire on Sunday’s medal race.
Now sailing with Maelle Frascari, Italy’s 2016 Rio Olympic helm Vittorio Bissario won the first race today as the first crew to start close to the pin, left end of the start line and break first away to the favoured left. They lead all the way around the course, benefiting from the bend on the left side of the course and the slight extra pressure. In contrast compatriots, Tita and Banti had a poor start and had to fight back to 15th in the 24 boat gold fleet.
photos © Didier Hilliare
Roller coaster leaderboard
In the 10-12kt sea breeze conditions which remained relatively stable through the three races, increasingly the fight to get off the line and escape in good shape drew casualties. Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson suffered a U flag disqualification which, after a 15th in the third race dropped them from second to fifth for the day.
Among the top title challengers, their weighty error was not isolated. No sooner had New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders gone 2,8 to lead the regatta than they capsized in the third race to finish 24th.
Lying second Spain’s vastly experienced Fernando Echavarri warned, “This is still a long championship with six races to go. Every race it is easy to make a mistake and once you make a mistake or go to the wrong side it is really, difficult to get back to the top. It is going to be about the balance between taking just enough risk and too much risk to get into good positions.”
photos © Didier Hilliare
The leaderboard roller coaster continued as France’s top duo Moana Vaireux and Manon Audinet, based in La Grande Motte for much of the year, made their second bad start from three to finish 18th, dropping to seventh. And Danish duo Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lübeck could not impose themselves as they lead the qualifying series, today going 16,13,13 to drop from first to fourth.
Franck Citeau, the coach of the French team contends, “The key today? Start, go left and the race was finished at the first tack. You had to win the buoy and get away. In this world championship, there is no favourite, no one has the edge. And right now there will be a different leader, a different world champion, each night until the end of the medal race. And it is the medal race which will decide this world championship and the podium.
In this fleet, everyone can make mistakes as we saw today. Perhaps Echavarri has the advantage, not in speed, not in technique but he is the metronome, he is the consistent one. With this new boat and the limited training time, we have all had then the level is pretty homogeneous, pretty even. Nobody stands out. And in the end, it might be like the Olympic Games were on the day Santi Lange won because he got the job done.”
There is a certain similarity between the European Championship podium and tonight’s World Championship leaderboard, Tita and Banti winning in Kiel in early July by a single point from Echavarri and Pacheco. There are also some features common to the 2014 European Championship on these same waters in La Grande Motte where Iker Martinez won, sailing with Pacheco. Italy’s Bissario was third at the championship.
Echavarri, 2008 Olympic Tornado gold medallist, was taking little store from their rise up the leaderboard, “We were struggling yesterday when we could not get out of our own way. Today we were fast and we are happy. But the fleet is so very even, one bad day can change everything. Basically, we were not on the course yesterday. We talked after racing, we don’t like to be in the corners and yesterday we did not take enough risk. But today there was more wind and we felt a little more comfortable. But in general a good day for the Spanish and the Italians.”
Echavarri concluded, ” There is a long way to go with these boats to be able to sail them to their potential, a long way. We did not train much, we did the Europeans and Aarhus. This winter will be key. It is too early to know where we will go in the winter and what we will do. We don’t have a plan for tomorrow far less the winter!”
Racing continues Saturday and Sunday with a forecast for Medal Race day, the deciding finale, promising 20+ kts.
Standings after Day 4: (top ten, 9 qualifying races, 3 finals races, 1 discard allowed only from QF series)
1 Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA) 63pts
2 Fernando Echavarri/Tara Pacheco (ESP) 65pts
3 Iker Martinez/Olga Maslivets (ESP) 66pts
4 Lin Ea Cenholt/Christian Peter Lübeck (DEN) 71pts
5 Ben Saxton/Katie Dabson (GBR) 72pts
6 Gemma Jones/Jason Saunders (NZL) 74pts
7 Moanna Vaireaux/Marion Audinet (FRA) 74pts
8 Vittorio Bassaro/Maelle Frascari (ITA) 80pts
9 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 80pts
10 Mateo Majdalani/Eugenia Bosco (ARG) 83pts
photo © YCGM
At the Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grand Motte the class have been busy each night with a series of class meetings to try and steady the class which has suffered numerous setbacks after its short life as a fully foiling class.
2 Class meetings were held with all members and entrants over the first two nights of the Nacra 17 World Championships, where Class members voted in a series of stabilising measures.
The open forum meeting agenda was cut short after the allotted time was spent debating a single but very important topic: the use of the gennaker upwind. After two hours of debate, a sailor only vote was held. This vote changed, on a short-term basis for this World Championships only, the Sailing Instructions so as to rule out the use of gennakers upwind. The vote was very tight with both sides having some very valid arguments.
Four weeks ago, New Zealand’s Jones and Saunders initiated the use of gennakers upwind at the Europeans. Some fleet members took the concept forward, while others worked on trying to foil upwind with just the main and jib. While both concepts have had their moments in training, a 9-knot day at the worlds venue where the use of gennakers upwind won the practice racing worried the builders and some of the fleet enough to ask the Class for the practice to be reviewed.
To date, sailing upwind with the gennaker has not broken any masts. However, a couple of spinnakers have blown up and it is clear that they are not designed for this mode of sailing. After a lot of debate among the Class Executive a last minute vote, though inconvenient, was scheduled.
The following night, on the eve of racing, the Class held its AGM. An update was given to the World Council on topics not covered the previous night during the Open Forum. The Class discussed the future event schedule and other topics relevant to the Class. Three Vice Presidents and the CFO were elected to the Executive. One new VP was elected, Lisa Darminian (AUS), as well as re-elections of Murray Jones (NZL) as CFO, Sofia Bekkatorou (GRE) and Iker Martinez (ESP) as VPs.
Thereafter a series of debates and votes were taken on a number of equipment topics from the use of gennakers upwind, board position, mandatory and optional safety gear and foot loops. Much debate discussed having a period of stability in the Class. While evolution to remain current, and for performance, is desired the crux of the debate centred on the correct balance with a period of stability. Most of the sailors agreed that we should evolve to get the most out of the new boats but they really need as much certainty as possible about the platform over the next few years in the lead up to Tokyo. Ultimately a series of votes on various proposals emphasized stability over broad evolution, but with a focus on looking at low-cost and easy “quick wins” and a priority list of all potential options with a full investigation into longer term and more significant changes.
A number of proposals for specification changes to optimise sailing with the gennaker upwind was withdrawn after the debate, with the Technical Committee and designers to investigate in more detail the various options. The Class reviewed it’s earlier decision to sail with the boards down at all times and ultimately decided to a Class Rule change to have more flexibility and to allow the Race Officers to prescribe times when boards may be raised in lighter airs. This change will allow the Class to test the impact of raising boards and further Class guidance will be developed to guide the Race Officials.
Rule change to have more flexibility and to allow the Race Officers to prescribe times when boards may be raised in lighter airs. This change will allow the Class to test the impact of raising boards and further Class guidance will be developed to guide the Race Officials.
A vote to change the Class Rules to allow an extra foot loop was unanimously approved.
A number of Class Rules votes were conducted concerning safety. For the events in 2017, helmets, safety knives, and impact vests doubling as floatation devices were governed by each event’s Notice of Race. The Class proposed changes to its Class Rules to cement these issues. Of note is the ability for the Race Officials to determine when, in lighter winds, it is safe to race without helmets.
These Class Rule changes will be submitted to World Sailing for approval in the coming days.
In a positive development showing a new level of engagement of the sailors, the Class will meet again, informally, on Saturday, September 9, to review a list of small “quick win” improvements that can be investigated as well as some longer term investigations.
The sailors will help set the priority list for Nacra Sailing and the Technical Committee to investigate with the goal of making simple and cost-effective improvements to keep improving the performance of the Nacra 17.
An example of such improvements may be to allow a 3:1 traveller system, filling the screw holes in the rudder elevator and to look at the rudder gudgeons to see if we can reduce drag, weight and play in the system.
The Nacra 17 is meanwhile stumbling to the sharp end of the first foiling world championship with a medal race on the weekend.
Lin Ea Cenholt & Christian Peter Lubeck – photo © YCGM
Day 3 – Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte
The top two crews at the Nacra 17 World Championship both emerged from a challenging Race 7 of the Qualifying Series with their worst results yet. But, showing the hallmarks of potential champions, both regrouped and were immediately back into their stride during the subsequent two heats and so head into Friday and Saturday’s Finals with just a small cushion over the third placed team.
The World Championship leaders in La Grand Motte, France, remain Denmark’s Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck, local heroes when they won last month’s 2018 Aarhus Sailing World Championship Test Event.
The Danish duo who only narrowly missed Olympic selection to rivals Allan Norregard and Annette Viborg, broke from their usual ‘stay with the group and stay consistent’ strategy in today’s first light winds race, contested in a patchy 10 – 11kts of cross offshore breeze, only to find themselves hung out to dry hundreds of metres behind their rivals. They battled back to their discard, 19th.
In the same streaky breeze, which was enough, at times, to more favour the lighter crews who could foil and fly for periods, Great Britain’s duo Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson, who have only been together since May, also sailed their discard. They too bounced back to a 1,5 while the ice cool Danes went 2,2 to lead the Brits into the Finals by two points.
Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets had a similar day in the patchy, up and down sea breeze which did not quite reach the forecast 12kts.
They sailed to a first and a good fourth, but then had to fight back from deep to an eleventh. But while the Spanish aces are up to third in the standings because they already have an eleventh in their scoreline they go into the Finals eight points behind Saxton and Dabson.
With the top 24 pairs making the cut to the Gold Fleet, the business end of the Nacra 17 World Championship will see a big step up in the level. To date none of the Rio Olympic medallists are in the top five, Argentina’s Olympic champions Santi Lange and Cecilia Carrannza Carroli are sixth at their first Nacra 17 regatta since their Rio victory. They won the third race of the day. But silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin are eighth and bronze winner, Austria’s Thomas Zajac with new crew Barbara Matz are 19th.
The Danes Cenhholt and Lübeck have been as impressively consistent on the Camargue’s Baie d’Aigues Mortes as they were winning on their home waters.
Britain’s leading helm Saxton, who finished ninth in Rio and is one of the most experienced in the fleet having started in 2013 when he was runner up for the world title, warned:
“The Danes are fast, start well and are good upwind and downwind. But it is a going to get a lot tougher. It is wicked to be here among all these good sailors. I relish the opportunity from here.”
But theirs is a potent pairing, the fresh drive and impetus brought aboard from the powerful, smart Dabson complementing Saxton’s experience, “We are good at cracking on, never switching off, we work hard and are good at regrouping and getting going again and that makes us quite nice and consistent.” Saxton said, “Katie has been great. There are not many sailors could hop on to the boat in May and already have a Europeans medal. Credit to her. She puts a lot of effort in and that goes a long way.”
“Some people are playing more than others. I tried a new setting today in the boat, just how you set the power up in the boat, and that seemed to work and so we are learning every day.” Saxton concluded.
Fourth in Rio, New Zealand’s Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are nicely poised in fourth.
Saunders said: “Overall today we are happy because the wind was a bit fickle on our course. We are happy with our start to the regatta The first objective was to be in the gold fleet and not to do anything stupid Now the serious things start tomorrow. We are in the match but the intensity goes up and up from here. Before the regatta we had worked hard at sailing upwind with the gennaker and that was not allowed so we had to regroup, relearn a lot of stuff. But we have been making good starts which are not usually our best points. So these are good learnings now to carry forwards to the Finals.”
Standings after Day 3: (top ten, 9 races, 1 discard)
1 Lin Ea Cenholt Christensen/Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN) (12, 1, 1, 3, 4,4, (19), 2, 2) 29pts
2 Ben Saxton/Katie Dabson (GBR) 31pts (6,4,2,6,5,2 (10),1,5) 31pts
3 Iker Martinez/Olga Maslivets (ESP) (1,(11), 9,4,7,1,4,1,11) 38pts
4 Gemma Jones/Jason Saunders (NZL) (3,5,4,(14), 3,7,5,11,2) 40pts
5 Moana Vaireaux/Manon Audinet (FRA) (6,5,7,4,3,3,9,6,(10) 43pts
6 Santiago Lange/Cecilia Carranza (ARG) (9,7,3,1,8,6,(12),10,1) 45pts
7 Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA) (12,2,10,6,1,2,3 (18), 10) 46pts
8 Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Dalmanin (AUS) (4,9,12,5,1,5,(13),4,7) 47pts
9 Pablo Defazio/Dominique Knuppel (URU) (5,3,5,5,14,(17), 3,9,3) 47pts
10 John Gimson/Anna Burnett (GBR) (3,4,2,(14),6,7,7,13,8) 50pts
Nacra 17 World Championships at La Grande Motte
American duo Riley Gibbs and Louisa Chafee were the leaders at the Nacra 17 World Championships after the first three qualifying races were contested in light, sub 10 kt breezes and pleasant sunshine off La Grande Motte’s Baie de Aigues Mortes. They were protested after racing for a measurement infringement and penalised, ceding the lead to Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnett.
As if to answer the question whether the younger generation can make a big impression at these first ever foiling Nacra World Championships, foiling kiteboarder and 49er racer Gibbs, 21, paired with Rio Olympian Chafee, 25, had opened with an opening second and two first places from their 24 strong Blue fleet group and were credited with the provisional early lead of the championship. But they were subsequently protested and penalised for sailing with the rubber bushes at the top of the foils removed, contrary to the International Jury’s interpretation of the measurement rules.
The young Americans, training partners of injured Bora Gulari and Helena Scutt who – Scutt reported after the hearing – had already trained with the bushes removed in order to preserve maximum strength in the head area rather than seek a performance gain were it to allow the foil to drop lower. “This is not about any performance gain this is about the strength in that part of the board.” Scutt emphasised after the hearing. “We had the boards not once, but twice, to measurement like that and so we considered it was fine.” Added USA coach David Howlett.
With the young American pair receiving a 50 per cent place penalty for each of their races, John Gimson and Anna Burnett now lead a British Sailing Team 1-2 at the top of the World Championship standings with New Zealand’s Rio Olympians Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in third. While several key groups have been working up on Lake Garda and here in La Grande Motte for example, the five strong British Nacra 17 squad have been training hard together as a unit on their native Olympic waters off Weymouth and Portland. They showed well at the first foiling Nacra 17 event, the European Championship in Kiel where British Sailing Team crews took three of the top six places.
Helm Gimson outlines the ongoing British squad philosophy, “The GBR squad, all five British boats, ourselves Ben Saxton, Tom Phipps, Rupert White and Chris Rashley have all been training together in Weymouth which has been good. We did a lot of practice sailing with the kite up upwind and then that got banned the day before the event and so we have been trying to remember how to sail ‘old style’. The training as a squad has been great, everyone has their different strengths, now we need to learn to race.”
Fifth in Kiel, Gimson, added, “We picked up our boat the day before the Europeans and then built it the day before and then raced. But we had spent a lot of time in Bermuda with Artemis sailing the foiling Nacra 20s. It was just about converting that to the platform we have now.” “Some guys are making the upwind foiling work, Ben (Saxton and Katie Dabson) are making that work reasonably, the Kiwis have a nice mode as have the Italians but you need a lot of space to do that. It is OK on tuning runs but on the race course it is a different story.”
Consistency in the light conditions on the opening day was not easy. Although the left on both course areas appeared to yield some profit in additional wind pressure there was some concern that the sea breeze might move to the right. First blood on the Blue course went to Spain’s Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets who lead to the first top mark ahead of Gibbs and Chaffee, the double Olympic medallist and Maslivets holding on to their early margin to the finish line. On the corresponding Yellow area Italy’s Lorenzo Bressani and Cecilia Zorzi – who, like Martinez missed out on Rio selection – also started out with a Race 1 victory.
But Martinez and Maslivets struggled in the second race, rounded third from last, and had to fight back to a mid fleet 12th, going 1,12,9 for the day to lie 21st just behind Rio gold winners Lange and Carannza Saroli. Recently crowned European Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti of Italy started modestly with two mid-fleet results and a second place but the Danish winners of the 2018 Sailing World Championships Aarhus Test Regatta, Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck came back after a modest 12th place opener to win both their subsequent races.
Helm Cenholt commented, “For us, we are really happy with our speed on the downwinds and having a lot of fun testing the boat and pushing it and seeing how we can make it a little faster. We might be falling off the foils now and then but it is all about the learning process. We got the boat on the 20th of June and so we did the Europeans and Aarhus. In Aarhus we were just consistent, we did not win a single race but our worst race was a fifth. Today we learned a lot, especially towards the goals which are finding the best settings upwind. Today I think we maybe got a little closer to a faster mode but also we are developing our settings- knowing how powerful the sails need to be set up for this boat.”
Racing starts at 1100hrs Wednesday with a forecast for NW’ly breeze in the morning.
Results can be found here : http://nacra17.org/events/2017-world-championship/
From September 4th to 10th, 60 crews representing 25 different nations will battle it out on the Bay of Aigues Mortes challenging for the Nacra 17 World Championships.
This first major world championship event of the new Olympiad will be the first to feature the Olympic multihull in full foiling flying mode and sees the return of Rio’s three Olympic medal winning pairs to compete against each other in this exciting new configuration.
Among the eight teams which could be considered favourites are Argentina’s gold medal winners Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza and France’s Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet who will be racing on the French duo’s home training waters.
A New Era
Launched in 2012 for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the Nacra 17 – mixed Olympic catamaran – is in the throes of a revolution, the conversion to foils which make it fly. Training and racing time in this new foiling configuration available to the world championship contenders has been very limited so far and so the most are still on a relatively steep learning curve. This will be an important first world level test.
Who will succeed Billy Besson and Marie Riou?
France’s famous four times world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou are taking time out to pursue different challenges and so are not competing this year, but are expected to reunite after Riou’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race. And so these world championships will seek to find successors.
Among those who may step up and take the title are the hugely experienced gold medal winners Argentina’s Santiago Lange and crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli, silver medalists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin of Australia and Austria’s Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank.
Among those who finished in the top 10 in Rio is the British helm Ben Saxton who now sails with Katie Dabson, the New Zealanders Gemma Jones and Jason Saunder, Italy’s Vittorio Bissaro who is with Maelle Frascari or Spaniards Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco.
From France Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet are at the top of a strong team of seven different crews lining up under the tricolour of the host nation. Most of them are very familiar with La Grande Motte and the waters there as they have regularly trained here over recent years.
Aside from the established names in the class this championship should see the emergence of many new faces: young sailors and crews from other classes such as the 49er or the foiling Moth. And as yet there are many unknowns about the handling and how to make the foiling Nacra 17 perform best on the different points of sail. So the 2017 World Championship promises to be open as well as exciting.
Yacht Club of La Grande Motte at the controls
The Yacht Club of La Grande Motte has organised and hosted dozens of major sailing events. They hosted and ran a very successful and popular 2014 Nacra 17 European Championship. An experienced team of 90 people are mobilized locally to run the championship. And already for more than 15 days there have been a dozen crews training on the world championship waters. And more are arriving every day.
* Following a training accident on Wednesday, two times International Moth World Champion Bora Gulari will not now compete. US Olympian is reported to be making good progress after his release from the hospital.
•Monday 4 September – 11h30: Security briefing & 13h55: Training regatta
•Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 September – 10h55: Qualifying races
•Friday 8 & Saturday 9 September – 10h55: Fleet races
•Sunday 10 September – 09: 55: Fleet races & 13h55: Medal Race
With the end of the ‘A’ Class Catamaran World Championships, seeing Stevie Brewin (AUS) crowned for his third title now is a good time to reflect on what has been happening in the ‘Formula 1’ of small sailing cats over the last couple of years. The development class, conceived in late 1950’s, is never standing still.
Back in 2015, at Hellevoesluis, Mischa Heemskerk (NED) arrived with a revamp of an earlier sail shape he’d developed a few years earlier. The Decksweeper sail was designed to give the power lower down on the sail and thus keep the boat flatter. But, for displacement boats, the sail needed to give the boat some heel when going downwind, doing the ‘wild thing’ and flying a hull, reducing the drag for the best speeds.
He dropped the design back then, as no discernible benefit was observed. However, as a result of America’s Cup designs filtering back down to the ‘A’ Cat, and the advent of the foiling daggerboards, with their winged rudder systems, the need to keep the boats flatter became much more important. So, in the May he turned up at the Dutch Nationals and wiped the floor with the fleet. Beaten by some margin that weekend was one Glenn Ashby (AUS).
Fast forward to the September and to Punta Ala for the Worlds. Both sailing for the DNA factory team, Ashby had gone home, simply chopped a chunk off the top of an older sail and stitched on the same area at the bottom to create a decksweeper. In the ensuing regatta, he beat Mischa in every race, and by an increased margin each time. The decksweeper was here to stay for foiling boats.
The debate then started as to the foil design and to which shape was the best for whatever. This was made much more interesting by the famous ‘A’ class rule 8, which stated that all foils must be inserted from the top of the hull. The tips underneath to be no closer than 1.5m apart, and at no time during insertion and operation were any part permitted to go outside the 2.3m maximum beam. Of course, the class was free to decide to abolish rule 8, but it was decided to keep it in the narrowest of votes at the World AGM in 2015.
Fears of all sorts of wild board shapes and the ‘law of unintended consequences’ where boats could just become twin hulled Moths or something was averted and the very clever people in the class set about doing stuff, but all within the rules. The current shape is the Z foil, with subtle variations in shape, profile and longitudinal placement being fine tuned. Rake systems are becoming simpler and adjustment easier, at least when compared to the early pioneer’s designs. A variant has since filtered through to the Nacra 17 now too.
In late 2015/early 2016, two of the leading manufacturers suddenly released new models to the surprise of the class. First was the Polish Exploder Ad3. Designed by Spanish sailor and designer Gonzalo Redondo, it was a new take on their earlier A13/14/15 designs, but with altered beam and mast foot positions, the foils were moved further forward and the hull shape altered to incorporate more fore and aft rocker to allow lower foiling lift off speeds.
It was an immediate success commercially as it was noticeably easier to foil compared with the earlier designs that relied upon considerable circus skills to balance the boat and avoid that crowd-pleasing wipe out.
Then the Dutch firm, Holland Composites, unveiled their stunning looking DNA F1. The prototype was in a clear coated black carbon finish. Huge attention had been paid to the aero package on the boat. The beams had streamlined fairings to smooth the airflow over the trampoline. The tramp itself was made from carbon cloth and was stiff with a taut fabric under tramp.
Everything was hidden inside this sandwich, all the lines, and control sheets within this. It was sealed to the hull, so no air would escape upwards and created a tunnel hull effect. Even the tiller bar joiner was aero designed to be in the lee of the rear beam. It looked like a rocket ship. And sailed like one too in the hands of it’s co-designer Misha Heemskerk. He was simply untouchable in the 2016 Worlds in DNA’s back garden at Medemblik. However, costing more than the average Mercedes C class, it was a rich boys play thing indeed.
Foil shape and rudder tip shapes are still being played with, but the latest developments look to be in rig design. The deck sweeper, with its lower centre of power, has been fitted on mast cut down from the original 9m to about 8.3. This allows the bottom to get wider and further add power lower on the sail.
The new World Champ, Stevie Brewin, has been sailing in AUS with this rig setup very successfully.
However, he frequently sails in more breeze at his club and on the AUS circuit than many European and US sailors. He elected to use the full rig at Sopot for this very reason. Another school of thought is that this would just end up with a Laser sail in the end.
Tall, high aspect ratio may be the other way to go in the end, as we may not realize how efficient the ‘A’ cat rig actually is for its weight. Most use this sail with a curved carbon boom, however, Stevie has developed a boomless variant that works just as well, if you know how to use it.
The ‘A’ cat fleet and World Sailing has now officially designated two boat types as variants within the same class of boat. The non-foiling, or Classic, as it is officially called, has many more sailors than the sexy young foilers now seen at the front in such regattas. However, the international class association, IACA, has been keen to bring them all back into the fold under its protective wing, rather than let them all wander away muttering under their breath.
They now have a separate official handicap in both the SCHRS and PY systems. Many older sailors greatly enjoy the racing in the Classic fleets. Circus skills and super bendy legs are less common amongst these experienced veterans, but they still want to come to the party.
Also, the Classic is the ideal starter boat for the class. By learning all the skills and tuning techniques that this technical boat demands, they provide the best foundation course available. Many National associations now run parallel rankings for both fleets, and the race on the same courses. But beware of them in the light stuff. Classics will often get a win, as the much higher drag of the foiler’s underwear is a considerable slowing problem.
Now things are settling down a bit as far as platform designs are concerned. The Swiss manufacturer of the Scheurer G7 has been developed by the SUI sailor Sandro Caviezel, who has designed an extended empennage, filling in the space between the rear beam and the hull stern. This is designed to smooth the airflow out from under the hull and reduce drag further. Seems to work too in the higher winds.
But at the 2017 Championship, there was no groundbreaking technological development that trumped the rest of the fleet. The sailors had caught up with decksweepers, Z foils etc., and it looks like it is back to good old fashioned sailing skill. The new techniques have been mastered by many of course, but the racing was far closer than it had been for the last two years.
This year, a few figures stood out in the fleet. Local Polish sailors Tymuk Bendyk, Kuba Surowiec and Maciej Zarnowski were all up with the pace. Tymuk particularly loved the heavy stuff and he has sailed in those waters since the age of seven. Kuba likewise was always on the pace. Maciej put in solidly good results until his starboard bow was neatly severed in the first race of the windy Wednesday, rendering him out of contention despite getting redress for that race.
Mischa was always going to find it hard to retain his crown. His F18 World title has taken time away from his ‘A’ cat training, plus the lack of regular training partners didn’t help either. In the end, his campaign was probably over in race 2, when he capsized at the bottom mark whilst chasing Stevie, then fatally miscounted the laps, and put in another one.
Despite giving it everything, it cost him 29 places and the title. Darren Bundock (AUS) was on equal points with Stevie after the qualifiers, being in separate fleets and both led. But when they met in the medal races, the student beat the master. 5th was his final finishing position. Manuel Calavia (ESP) was awesomely fast. He showed great pace in the previous weeks Polish Nats by winning the event.
However, an OCS on race 2 hurt him fatally as it turned out. 10th was his eventual position. Dave Shaw (NZL) was the surprise find of this regatta. His hard work and training paid off spectacularly, and he was in the running to be on the podium until the last day of racing. And in the Classics, Pontius Johnson (SWE) on his black Marstrom was 22nd overall in the 125+ fleet.
With something for everyone, Sopot didn’t disappoint. Monday was a lovely 12-14 kts. Tuesday was 8-10, so marginal foiling was had, but it increased nicely later in the day. Wednesday was a full-on 17-19 kt blast with 3ft waves to match, but by the afternoon’s first medal race, it had moderated somewhat. But it was the Thursday racing that put pay to several podium hopes.
On a light wind day, in the second race, most of the hotshots took the left of the course in a light and shifting wind. Those who were forced to tack off at the start, due to being in dirty air or bad positioning, found themselves on the right of the course and in a huge shift and increased pressure, giving them all the jump on all the superstars over on the left. The lead was almost 2 mins in many cases.
Bruce Mahoney (USA) made the most of his opportunity and led for most of the race, being overtaken by Stevie on the last leg, but with a virtuoso display of light airs foiling, Bruce pipped him to the bullet by a boat length. Only Stevie had managed to claw his way back to the front. All the other title challengers were left languishing in the thirty and fortysomethings.
Before the regatta, it was predicted that the best reader of the wind would emerge at the top. Brewin was that man. He was equally comfortable in both the heavy and the light stuff, master of all the techniques needed to clinch his third World title. He is a truly great sailor and deserved his win.
The next big international events are in 2018 in July at Warnemünde GER, then the Worlds in Hervey Bay AUS, November 2018, then to Weymouth UK in August 2019.
Source: Gordon Upton, Editor, A-Cat.org
as published on Scuttlebutt on August 27th, 2017
The MOD70 trimaran Concise 10 sets a new record in the Round the Island Race © Paul Wyeth / www.pwpictures.com
It was an absolutely flying start from the MOD70 Concise 10. Nobody thought that the course record set by another MOD70, Phaedo3, last year would fall. But their fast time to the Needles and rapid progress down the back of the Island set them up for a solid time. Then favourable winds allowed them to make the finish line on one tack, setting up a last gasp dash to the finish line.
Crossing the line after 2 hours 22 minutes and 23 seconds means they beat Phaedo3’s record by exactly one minute! Congratulations to skipper Ned Collier-Wakefield and his team.
It was probably, in truth, not the glorious start that most had hoped for with breeze in the high teens and a little bit of rain combining to give the sailors competing in this 81st edition of the race something of a shock to the system. Still, nothing like a fine bit of British weather to help wake you up at 5am!
But despite this damp start the skies have since become much clearer, the clouds have broken, the rain has gone and the sun is shining. Though the conditions may not have been conducive to lounging in the sun, they certainly gave all of the sailors a fast ride down to the Needles.
We did initially expect to see a large number of boats over the startline with the tide pushing everyone to the west. But, caution seemed to play out for most and, though there were recalls in most classes, the tendency seemed to be just one or two keen starters in each fleet.
Photos by Max Ranchi, www.maxranchi.com
Despite an impressive late charge from their compatriots on Team Tilt, Jerome Clerc – steered Realteam to hang on to the lead to win the GC32 Riva Cup by four points after another three race day held in perfect 10-16 knot conditions on Italy’s Lake Garda.
Flavio Marazzi’s Armin Strom Sailing Team managed third place, making the podium of this first event of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour a 100% Swiss affair.
Proceedings got underway on the final day with a last round of the GC32 Racing Tour’s new Anonimo Speed Challenge – an opportunity for the crews to eek out the fastest speed from their foiling catamarans.
Photos by Max Ranchi, www.maxranchi.com
On the final day of the regatta it was the turn of Jason Carroll’s Team Argo to record the high score of 27.65 knots. However this was not enough to better the speed of Flavio Marazzi’s team which managed 31.02 knots on Friday.
Sadly Team BDA fortunes didn’t go so well after they experienced a capsize while they were not racing. Fortunately they were quickly righted with the generous help of the Argo’s experienced support crew and the US team’s big black tender.
Team BDA take a dip – Photos by Max Ranchi, www.maxranchi.com
Racing resumes at the GC32 Villasimius Cup, in southern Sardinia over 28 June to 1 July .
Final results – GC32 Riva Cup:
1. Realteam (SUI) – Jerome Clerc, 30 points
2. Team Tilt (SUI) – Sebastien Schneiter, 34
3. Armin Strom Sailing Team (SUI) – Flavio Marazzi, 45
4. Team Engie (FRA) – Sebastien Rogues, 54
5. Team Argo (USA) – Jason Carroll, 60
6. Racing Movistar (ESP) – Iker Martinez, 70
7. Mamma Aiuto! (JPN) – Naofumi Kamei!, 73
8. Team France Jeunes (FRA) – Robin Follin, 77
9. Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco (MON) – Pierre Casiraghi, 79
10. Team BDA (BER) – Mackenzie Cooper, 96
11. Codigo Rojo Sailing Team (ARG) – Federico Ferioli, 115
On Friday 28 April World Sailing has confirmed its support for the existing roll out plan to release the first batch of 45 Foiling Nacra 17’s on June 26. The European Championship, as previously stated in the released NoR will be a foiling event, and the World Championship in La Grande Motte, France, will also be raced in foiling Nacra 17’s. In addition, World Sailing with their partners in Aarhus, would like to announce that the Aarhus test event will also be conducted in Foiling Nacra 17’s.
Both the Nacra 17 Class Executive and the Board of World Sailing recently reviewed and debated all options on how to transition to the foiling Nacra 17. Both parties have confirmed their support for the initial plan, and this was made official in a letter to Nacra 17 class president, Marcus Spillane from the Board of World Sailing following their board meeting on April 25, 2017.
With this confirmation World Sailing will review its plan for the Sailing World Series event in Japan for October 2017. It is probable that the Nacra 17 event will be cancelled for 2017 due to unavailability of sufficient foiling Nacra 17’s and lack of demand to race the event in C board Nacra 17’s. World Sailing will make an official announcement shortly.
While the above news will mean disappointment for all teams not able to get their boats in the initial allocation or before the Worlds, we understand your frustrations and the implications for your campaigns. The Nacra 17 Class will continue to work with Nacra Sailing to make every effort to minimise the impact on each team.
Since the initial distribution was announced in January, the manufacturing plans remain on time. In addition Nacra Sailing have increased their build capacity for the second half of 2017.
The Class continues to investigate other options with Nacra Sailing to speed up the roll out of foiling equipment to as many teams as possible. Aside from equipment, we are engaging with World Sailing on how best to minimise the medium-term impact of uneven equipment distribution to reduce its effect on future event entry particularly the qualifying for future Sailing World Cups.
This decision reflects the best course of action, despite their being no perfect solution. All parties are committed to ensuring that the equipment side of this Class is right for the 2020 Olympics. With early feedback from top teams testing the foiling equipment we will be better placed to ensure the long-term success of the foiling Nacra 17.
by Nacra 17 Class Executive