Belgian A-Class Association

Intro

Results of the World Championship and future of foiling Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Écrit par Michel   
The moment has come, the A-class world championship has come to an end leaving a victorious Glenn Ashby on the highest podium, yet again (well deserved).
Glenn is just a super sailor.  A few years back, when the F18 WC was held in Belgium, I met Glenn at the beginning of the event and he told me that he hadn't sailed F18 in two years and he was going to sail with a crew he had never sailed with before... if I recall well, he ended 4th at that WC which was sailed in very windy conditions... no doubt he is a natural talent.

The interesting thing about this championship is the apparent ease with which new class entrants have been able to score that high in the ranking.  Think of Blair, Tuke (completing the top three) but also quite a few other top-10 sailors.
Is this a sign that the A-class' is not a very competitive fleet, filled with ageing guys because they are mostly the ones that can afford such boat?  Well, if we look at the pedigree of each of these top-ten sailors, the answer is a definite no.  Unfortunately we do not know exactly who needs to be labelled as an amateur and who is a pro sailor but my guess is that you would need to look at the 13th or 14th place of the ranking to find the first true amateur; i.e. someone with a job outside the sailing world, not "having to" sail to make money.  The top includes a mast builder, a few sail lofts (3) and ETNZ crew, there may be an exception because I don't have the background of them all (but he will confirm the rule then).
 
It will be interesting to see in the following days and weeks which conclusions are to be taken on the different forums.  My conclusions are the following anyway:
 
  1. foiling is here to stay but it will take another year before it becomes widestream available as part of standard gear.  I guess every boat builder is going to have to go back to the drawing board to further optimize their J-profiles, the position of the case on the hull, the L and T-rudders and all the trimming controls that go with them...  I wouldn't be suprised a boat builder will start to offer two sets or options of foils, e.g. ones shaped for light weather (Exploder-style) and ones shaped for heavier weather (DNA-style).  Certainly for short events allowing pretty accurate weather forecasting this may become a factor.
  2. breakthrough of a serious competitor to the DNA platform with the good results (and marketing) of the Exploder
  3. breakthrough of more radical rudder design (Paradox-type)
  4. class has not approved the change of class rules that, according to some, could have led to cheaper foiling constructions
  5. tables turn around very fast in the A-class world;  Mischa Heemskerk (previous WC) ended only 12th, Thilo Keller who did so well in Europe last year by winning many national championships only ended 24th.  Luckily, Jacek Noetzel confirmed his good result of the Europeans last year ending as first European in 11th spot!
 
A final word on the now famous rule 8 change, which is not going to happen soon now, only the future will tell if it is a wise decision.  It wasn't an easy decision anyway as one leading commentator first advocated the rule change, then he advocated the contrary to end up advocating for the change after all...  not an easy subject indeed!
Martin Fischer is now supposedly going to develop with DNA catamarans a single handed real foiling catamaran outside the rule limitations of the A-class... just like bimare did already by the way.  It remains to see if someone will want to buy such a boat.  
If I would like to foil so extensively, I would buy a moth, way cheaper, easier to transport and lighter to handle!
 
 
 
Flying event boats or long-term class boats? Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Écrit par Michel   

25 September 2013 is another of those epic days for the sailing world as it is the day the American defender has won the Americas Cup!  The crews can take a well deserved rest, shore crews can be dismantled, the remaining flyers, flags and pins can be thrown in the waste bin, each team can reflect on what went well or not so well.  We will all remember those hottest moments in the racing… until the next AC or big event comes up.

This epic day is also the last day of those 72’ carbon giants… Why?  They were purpose built for the event, that’s all.  They can only be sailed by highly  trained crews and they were designed specifically for the conditions that are found in San Francisco; flat protected water in combination with a constant good breeze!  Let the Oracle AC72 become a Christmas tree on Times Square...

Finally, following this epic day, some multihull fanatics (including myself!) can descend from their cloud on which they have been for the past 6 months, some extrapollating in their enthusiasm the AC 72 virtues to the whole of the sailing world… as if no other sailor can have the same enjoyments as the ones on (such) multihulls.  One to think about: maybe the guys sailing a Moth have a mirrored idea about multihulls …  In other words, dangerous and rather pedantic attitude to think that your truth is the absolute one, although a very human one indeed. Respect for all classes, big and small, fast or slow!  There are different ways to get a thrilling race for spectators, on-board audio and video is part of it, as are similarly shaped boats, rules that favor closer racing (reach start, narrow and short course, …), time limit of 40 minutes (for boats travelling at 20 knots at the time!!) etcetera.  I remember the medal race of the Tornados at Beijing Olympics, boring like hell!  I remember the Laser Radial medal race at last year's Olympics, thrilling!  I remember the F16 European Championship at Warnemünde this year, thrilling!

The subject of this article is directly linked with the above: the reinstated demand (by some) to have A-class catamarans to be able to fly, just like the AC 72 or the Moths…

One major bottleneck in this quest is identified, and everyone agrees: it requires a substantial change or complete removal of class rule 8.2.  No wonder, as this rule (in combination with rule 8.1) was specifically put in place in 2009 to prevent A-cats to become … flying/foiling engines.  If we don’t remove this rule, then builders will need to keep experimenting with ever more expensive devices to achieve this goal.  Okay, so if we remove rule 8.2, the experimentations will be cheaper, less dramatic, …? Raise your hand if you think so.

Oh, say some, but you will be able to put those new devices on old boats so the total cost of having a flying boat will be contained or even reduced.  What about the effects (and associated costs) of the facts that daggerboard cases are probably not located at the right point in the hull, the platform stiffness is much reduced, the front beam position is probably not right, etc?  Will we still have less expensive boats for the same competitiveness?

So the basic question is if the decision of 2009 was a good one or not.  Fact is that an overwhelming majority at that time enabled such rule.  What triggered certain people to put this question back on the table, only 4 years later?  My modest opinion is that there are two reasons for this. The first reason is because since the adoption of the rule 8.2, the boat builders have gained a much better understanding of foiling dynamics and its associated possibilities.  The second reason is the visibility given to really flying conditions by the Americas Cup (the actual and the Little AC).

 

OK, let’s cut to the essence and review the main justifications I have been able to hear and read to abolish article 8.2.

 

1.       The a-class is a development class so as little restrictions as possible should be imposed. 

Little to say against this except that is sounds really hollow in my opinion. Questions can be raised about other rules all the same but this is never being questioned although when doing so, they could also have a faster/lighter or even a cheaper boat as a consequence.  Bring the minimum weight back to 90 kgs, though I am obviously not in favour, that would have a proven cost reducing effect I guess. Increase the sail area, that will make the boat faster, or increase the maximum beam or...

 

2.       Reduction in costs without having to build boats with exotic structure to allow extreme boards to be inserted from the top.

OK, should we assume that structures and rake controls will not be exotic when inserted from the bottom or sideways or… I don’t think so.

 

3.       Most current boats would be easily modified to accept modern board developments.

Have you looked at the cost of a current set of curved daggerboards?  Add a couple of thousands to modify and repaint the boat, add some extra rake controls and some extra money because the cost of designing, testing, building the foils will rocket further (as the number of parameters increase to play with, so is the research and trial and error required).

One very good sailor asked me; why opposing the change of class rule because it is too late, the flying of A-cats is already happening NOW.  Point taken is my answer, why then the need to change the rule?  Will I still be able to go sail on the sea leaving the beach with a competitive boat?

Anyway, when you start flying, the hull shape (catamaran, trimaran, mono) is not important anymore, more hulls only add more complexity (and cost).   If I want to sail, I sail an A-class catamaran, if I wanted to fly, for sure I would have bought a Moth long time ago.

The other real question is therefore, do we want a boat optimized for an event or do we want a boat class (with all its pros and cons)?  Because I don’t doubt that sailors will start to carry different foiling rigs optimized according to the event (certainly the short ones where the weather is well predictable). I also predict that the next change of rule proposed will be changing the minimum wind limit if the foiling is going to be accepted.

Anyway, is there no reason whatsoever to change the rules then?  Well, I think in all fairness the first one I mentioned above is the only justification for it, all the rest is throwing sand in the eyes of those that do not want to follow on the first reason.  BUT, if the rule 8.2 is abolished, then this is only half a solution in my opinion, I would much rather see rule 8.1 abolished as well.  The class should go for foiling all the way... or not. 

Nevertheless I suggest we add a new rule to the class; a rule change can only occur every ten years or so. Now you can’t say I am not making constructive proposals J

 

(this article reflects my personal opinion only)

Michel  

Dernière mise à jour : ( 26-09-2013 )
 
Curved boards are a bliss! Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Écrit par Michel   

Exactly two years ago I wrote a blog on this site with some thoughts on the future of the A-class, and more specifically around the subject of curved boards.

A few questions were raised and observations made.  Having now had a full season of joy with my new A-cat (*) that has the new curved boards, new mast design and sail to go with it, it now seems the right time to reflect on those questions and observations.

To cut it short on my new boat;  she is magnificent and extremely rewarding to sail.  At the same time – and that explains part of the previous sentence – she has become more technical to get the latest percentage of speed and control than the boat with straight boards.  It goes without saying that sailing this boat in a recreational way is very possible as well, though some get a kick only when a regatta is involved, others are happy with just being on the water, either way is fine!

So, how about the possible added complexity as I mentioned in my previous blog.  Well, it turns out to be less of a fuss as it could have become;

Daggerboard changes based on wind and water conditions; within one and the same boat builder this is not occurring though some (e.g. bimare) allow to put straigth and curved boards in the casing, depending on the conditions but, to my knowledge, no other builder is making any straight boards anymore.  Also, each boat builder has its model of curved board, hence no possibility to start swapping board designs …

Adjustment of vertical or horizontal rake of the boards; as I mentioned previously, this possibility is offered on some boats but, at least at the Europeans, I did not see anyone change this  so I wouldn’t be surprised it is disappearing again (for something different?).  The horizontal rake is actually quite easy to adjust, just stand a bit more to the front (or the back) in trapeze and the board will either lift a bit more, have a neutral effect or make the hull be sucked more into the water (when standing too much in front for example).

Curveboard design;  this is rather fixed now per boat builder as each make their own boards.  I can’t dwell any further as I know too little about board design differences between boats except that my board seems to be working very very well, this has been checked at the European and other championships and also when racing at sea (a better test for such boards J).

When sailing my new A-class I get certain sensations back that I had lost for too long; planning as if you were on a Laser, that is what the curved boards (in combination with all the rest of the developments on/of the boat) give you, with the same sense of challenging nature’s equilibrium all the time.  This is only applicable when sailing in over 10/11 knots of wind (high 3, low 4 bft depending on sea condition), below that wind, the curved boards hardly seem to have any effect, if at all.  In fact, between 1 and (low) 3 bft I put my boards up when going downwind as I always did in the past and it works best like that I think.

 So, all in all, the A-class catamaran is still my chouchou and curved boards, along with the new mast designs, sail designs and hull shapes have now proven to be significantly better than the Flyer1/2 type of A-classes.  My proof of that is the results I am getting when sailing multi-class (handicap) races about which I will be writing another article soon.

Happy sailing!

Michel

(*) beginning 2012 I bought a Vision A-class with a medium Saarberg mast and a Landenberger contender MAXX aramid sail.

Dernière mise à jour : ( 02-09-2012 )
 
Who curved my centreboard? Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Écrit par Michel   
Important note: Following article is written in my personal name and does not reflect the Belgian A-Class Association's view on the issue of allowing curved centreboards in A-class catamarans.
Dernière mise à jour : ( 10-11-2008 )
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Sailing venues in next few months in Belgium Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Écrit par Michel   

There will be some good A-class sailing in Belgium during following months at the following regattas;

  1. Season's Opening; March 29 and 30 at the lake of L'Eau d'Heure  (www.sneh.be)
  2. Open Belgian Multihull Championship; May 17 and 18 at the coast at Koksijde (www.kyc.be)
  3. Zeeschelde; 31 May at the coast at Knokke (www.rbsc.be)
  4. European Championship; 22 till 29 June at La Baule (F) (www.a-cat.org)
  5. Belgian Championship; 12 and 13 July at the coast at Knokke (www.rbsc.be)

More regatta news to follow Tongue out

Hope to see you all soon on and off the water!

Dernière mise à jour : ( 01-03-2008 )