Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Concerns

In Langebaan we spend all of our sailing time blasting across water whose state varies from flat water slalom blasting on 7.8 race sails and slalom boards right up to wild water bump and jump hanging on to 4.8 m wave sails.
We therefor spend quite a lot of time discussing the perfect set up for the conditions we experience.  My current bug bear is the shortage of light, simple, fast easy to control slalom sails for real world sailors.  Full race sails can be heavy and very hard on one's body if sailed fully powered for long periods of time.  I don't have a problem with this and get that they need to win races and are not built for comfort.  I need something that is far easier to use even if it is not quite as good at accelerating away from a start or a gybe.  What I do not want is a heavy second tier sail with rod battens and "durable construction" like the Severne Overdrive.  I need high tech materials, tube battens and feather light weights.  The closest I can find to what would interest me is Naish's Grand Prix.  I haven't sailed the new Grand Prix but it looks and weighs the business.  I would not use it with the 75% mast since this sort of counters the extreme light weight.  I would probably ride it with a Fiberspar 7000 mast and Fiberspar boom.

The problem with our current designers is that they work to a push system where each year they give us a new sail range and hope that we will buy.  I don't think that we are able to specify what we actually need so the whole thing is a bit hit and miss.

Stephano Basso is working on the sort of sail I think the fast recreational guy may need with his brand Wingssails.  He feels as I do that 6 battens and 3 cams should be enough for a lightning fast slalom sail.  A good guy doing good work.

Amongst the mainstream brands North can be commended for reducing the number of battens in their Warp and cutting down on the weight.  I own a Ram 7.8 and love the sail but it is way too heavy.  Sailworks has quite light race sails and have kept the sleeve width down.  By all accounts these are fast, easy sails.  Bruce Peterson is no slouch on them

Gaastra seem intent on producing the heaviest sails on the planet.  Dan's designs are good of course but not easy to use if you weigh less than 100kg.  The second tier GTX Race is far too racy with it's wide sleeve and many battens.  I understand that they are no longer producing the technora version of the Vapor.  No good

I understand that cost has a bearing on the decision for or against high tech materials but if guys like Naish, Demon Sails in the UK and Sailworks can build light strong sails then everyone can.  Severne are starting to get the weight thing as can be seen in their S1 wave sail and the NCX Pro.  Maui Sails have the Ghost wave but even their technora race sails are too heavy.  Nice designs though.

My challenge to the sail designers therefor is to design a range of sails which are light, have no more than 7 battens and 3 cams, rotate easily and can be controlled even when totally overpowered.  Sleeve width can be slightly wide but narrower than the current wide sleeved race sails.  The sails should be able to be sailed on RDM masts for lighter guys and SDM for heavier or more serious racers (2 sets of cambers with each sail).  If you wanted to be fancy you could design a special super light mast range for the sails.  I would suggest that in the sizes 6.5m down that there should be camless versions.  We find here that we are faster on soft sails when conditions get wild.                  

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